UNC Football: Previewing North Carolina State


It’s never fun losing to a rival. It’s even worse in consecutive weeks.
After a devastating 33-30 loss to Duke, the University of North Carolina looks to rebound this week against the North Carolina State Wolfpack.

Nov 5, 2011; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Bryn Renner (2) is pressured by North Carolina State Wolfpack linebacker Audie Cole (42) during the first half at Carter Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Liz Condo-US PRESSWIRE

North Carolina (5-3, 2-2 ACC) took a 30-26 lead over rival Duke with just over three minutes remaining, but there was just too much time for the Blue Devils. Duke capped off an 18-play, 87-yard drive with a touchdown pass on 4th and 2 from the five-yard line with 13 seconds remaining.
Coming into the game, North Carolina had won eight straight against Duke and 21 of the last 22. The Blue Devils quickly put an end to that streak. With the victory, Duke became bowl eligible for the first time since 1994.

For North Carolina, the loss was just another bump in the road in Larry Fedora’s first season in the ACC. The Tar Heels have now lost all three games this season by a combined nine points.

Now, the Tar Heels must put the loss behind them as they regroup and refocus on North Carolina State. Losing to a rival like Duke is one thing, but losing to rivals Duke and N.C. State in the same season is blasphemy.
North Carolina State (5-2, 2-1 ACC) comes into the game riding a two-game winning streak thanks to fourth-quarter rallies against Maryland and Florida State.

The Wolfpack trailed Maryland for the majority of the fourth quarter before a Niklas Sade 43-yard field goal with 32 seconds remaining gave the Wolfpack a 20-18 lead for good. N.C. State also trailed Florida State 16-0 at halftime before running off 17-consecutive points to shock the #3 Seminoles 17-16 in Carter-Finley Stadium.
North Carolina State also has victories over Connecticut, South Alabama and The Citadel. They have lost to Tennessee (35-21) and Miami (FL) (44-37).

The Wolfpack are 29th in passing yards (284.0 per game), 92nd in rushing yards (130.3) and 72nd in points (26.9). Their defense is ranked 28th in the nation in points allowed, just giving up 20.1 points per game. The Wolfpack have been disruptive on this side of the ball with an ACC-leading 22 sacks thus far this season.

North Carolina State’s offense is led by quarterback Mike Glennon, who has shown why he is considered a NFL prospect. While he may be inconsistent, Glennon has shown the ability to make every throw in the book. He showed great poise and leadership in the rallies over Maryland and FSU and looks to be hitting his stride as a quarterback.

Glennon has passed for 1988 yards and has a 14-to-7 touchdown to interception ratio. He has a 129.9 QB rating. After his 307-yard effort against Maryland, Glennon raised his ACC-leading yards per game average to 284.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t had much help from his rushing attack. The ground game has amassed only 912 yards, compared to almost 2000 for Glennon and the passing attack.

The leading rusher for the Wolfpack is Tony Creecy (81 carries, 319 yards) while Shadrach Thornton (55 carries, 282 yards), Brandon Barnes (28 carries, 101 yards) and Mustafa Greene (28 carries, 101 yards) have also contributed.
Quintin Payton (29 receptions, 551 yards) is North Carolina State’s leading receiver while Bryan Underwood (22 receptions, 342 yards) leads the team with 8 touchdowns.

For North Carolina to come out on top, they have the spread the ball around through the air and let Gio Bernard dominate on the ground. North Carolina’s defense is one of the best in the conference and they should be able to stop the run game and load up to stop Glennon and his core of pass-catchers.

With basketball season hours away, Larry Fedora and the football program are desperate to keep fans in the stands and cheering for the football team. Losing to Duke probably didn’t help his cause while losing to N.C. State for the 6th consecutive time would probably be the nail in the coffin.

But snapping the losing streak and putting the hiccup to Duke behind them would at least temporarily revive the football program. While most eyes will be on the rebuilding basketball program, Fedora and the football program can give UNC fans hope for this season and beyond.