October 1, 2012

Know your opponent: North Carolina State

2012 Record: 3-2 (0-1 ACC)

Starters returning: 16 total, seven offensive, seven defensive, and two specialists

Breaking it down: North Carolina State enters Saturday's 8 p.m. matchup coming off of a wild 44-37 loss on the road to Miami last weekend. With a loss to Tennessee in the season opener and a pair of victories over The Citadel and South Alabama, the Wolfpack's most impress victory in 2012 is a 10-7 win over Connecticut.

Injuries have decimated an offensive line that was expected to be a strength for N.C. State. Starting right guard Zach Allen is the latest casualty, suffering a lower leg injury against Miami that will keep him out on Saturday. Redshirt sophomore Cam Fordham will start in his place, meaning the Wolfpack offensive line will have its fourth different lineup in six games.

Despite the revolving offensive line lineup the Wolfpack are still averaging 30.2 points per game. The defense has been the unit that's let N.C. State down, giving up an average of 390.8 yards per game, including 651 to Miami on Saturday.

FSU leads the all-time series with N.C. State 22-10 and is 9-6 in Raleigh. The last time the Wolfpack hosted a top-five opponent was in 1998 when they upset then-No. 2 FSU 24-7. The Seminoles defeated the 'Pack 34-0 last year in Tallahassee, but fell 28-24 in 2010 in Raleigh.

"This is another double whammy game -It's an ACC game with an interdivisional game," said FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher. "So it's very important and we'll have our hands full."

Through the air

Player to watch:

QB Mike Glennon (Sr.)

2012 Passing: 109-176 1,422 yards, 10 TDs, 6 interceptions

2012 Rushing:27 carries, minus-54 yards and 2 TDs

Mike Glennon hasn't gotten off to the start most thought he would during his senior campaign. The N.C. State offensive line has given an ACC-high 16 sacks this season, as Glennon has been taken down 15 times and thrown six interceptions.

Despite the lack of production and the turnovers, Glennon has still put up solid numbers throwing the ball. He's completing 62 percent of his passes in 2012. Against Miami Glennon was 24 of 42 for 440 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

"Glennon has a great arm. He's a very big guy," said FSU middle linebacker Vince Williams. "He does a good job of isolating linebackers against tight ends, against running backs, they do a lot of check down stuff. They do a lot of mismatches between the tight ends and the running backs, so that can be a little confusing if you don't know exactly who you have at the time. "

Quintin Payton has been Glennon's top target with 19 receptions for 421 yards and a touchdown. Tobias Palmer is second on the team with 18 grabs for 190 yards.

Redshirt sophomore Bryan Underwood is also an emerging star at wideout. Underwood has 12 catches for 188 yards and six touchdowns. He has tied a school record with five straight games with a receiving TD.

Pounding the ground

Player to watch:

RB Tony Creecy (R-So.)

2012 Rushing: 50 rushes for 250 yards and 3 TDs

With a struggling offensive line the Wolfpack's ground game has been nothing to write home about. N.C. State is averaging 161 yards per game on the ground and 3.8 yards per carry.

Redshirt sophomore Tony Creecy leads the team with 250 yards on the ground. Creecy has battled injuries this season, but had 120 yards on 19 carries last week against Miami. Creecy is averaging five yards per carry this season.

True freshman Shadrach Thornton has taken over the role as the No. 2 back due to a suspension to 2010-leading rusher Mustafa Greene. Thornton has rushed for 232 yards on 38 carries this season, an average of 6.1 per carry and found the endzone twice.

Getting defensive

Player to watch:

CB David Amerson (Jr.)

2012 Stats: 3 interceptions, 16.5 tackles and six passes defended.

To say the Wolfpack defense is coming off of a disappointing performance against Miami would be a massive understatement. N.C. State allowed the Hurricanes to rack up 651 yards of total offense, as Stephen Morris threw for 566 passing yards and five touchdowns.

Despite leading the ACC with seven interceptions the Wolfpack are dead last in the ACC in passing defense, giving up an average of 278.6 yards per game through the air. N.C. State's struggles against the pass are surprising considering the veteran playmakers they have in the secondary.

Junior cornerback David Amerson led the nation in interceptions last season with 13, and already has three this season. Senior safety Earl Wolff is another veteran playmaker who hasn't been able to make a difference in pass defense. Wolff has 31.5 tackles this season, 2.5 for loss and an interception.

Amerson and fellow corner Dontae Johnson present a unique challenge for offenses, as both are listed at 6-foot-3.

"You just have to be more direct with your passes," said FSU QB EJ Manuel. "Be extremely accurate. I know their top corner is (David) Amerson and he has had a great year, a lot of hype going into the season. I know that we will be prepared for him, I know our receivers are looking forward to that match-up, because we have guys that are 6-6-, 6-5, then our speedy guys can run down the field and make plays."

The Wolfpack's defense is much more stout against the run than the pass so far this season. Opponents are averaging just 112.2 yards per game on the ground and just 3.4 yards per carry.

Outside linebacker Rodman Noel is someone FSU will have to keep an eye on. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound sophomore has 26.5 tackles this season, six for loss. Redshirt junior Darryl Cato-Bishop leads the 'Pack with 2.5 sacks this season. He has just 5.5 total tackles, but four have been for loss. N.C. State has 12 sacks this season, good for fourth-best in the ACC.

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