Weekly Preview: North Carolina State
Image Credit: Baltimore Sun
Opponent: North Carolina State Wolfpack (3-9, 0-7 Atlantic Coast Conference)
Game Date/Time: Saturday, November 30, 2013; 12:30 PM ET
Venue: Carter-Finley Stadium (57,583)
TV/Radio Broadcasts: ACC Network, Terrapin Sports Radio Network
All-Time Record: 33-32-4 North Carolina State
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Previewing the Wolfpack:
Dave Doeren’s first year at the helm of N.C. State hasn’t quite gone according to plan. The team fired Tom O’Brien after a 7-6 season that saw a loss at the Music City Bowl and hired Doeren, the former Northern Illinois head coach, fresh off an Orange Bowl loss to Florida State. O’Brien’s firing was a shocking one, as he had led the Wolfpack to 3 straight winning seasons. Athletic Director Debbie Yow cited ticket sales and poor recruiting classes as the reason for his dismissal.
Doeren’s team has certainly gone through some struggles this season, especially at the quarterback position. Brandon Mitchell was the assumed starter after transferring from Arkansas, but got hurt after a few weeks under center. Pete Thomas took over after Mitchell went down, a transfer in his own right from Colorado State. Neither man has been impressive at all, as they have combined for 9 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions. Mitchell is more of a runner than Thomas is, but both have gained decent yards on the ground, and have combined for 3 rushing touchdowns. They are listed as co-starters on N.C. State’s two-deep depth chart for this weekend’s game.
Dave Doeren’s offense is a no-huddle, quick-hitting offense based on running the football. N.C. State’s running backs have been good this season, with Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes carrying the bulk of the load. They have 4 rushing touchdowns each so far this season. Quintin Payton is N.C. State’s most impressive receiver, as he is averaging 19.4 yards per catch, and has scored 3 touchdowns.
The Wolfpack have yet to win an ACC game on the year, and are coming off of a brutal 42-28 loss at the hands of East Carolina. They are in the midst of a 7-game losing streak, and will be hungry for a win against Maryland to cap off their season. While this isn’t a very impressive team, Terps fans surely remember what happened the last time they faced Maryland in Raleigh. After the Terps jumped out to a 41-14 victory, N.C. State came all the way back to win by a score of 56-41. The Terps also lost to the Wolfpack last season on a missed last-second field goal by Brad Craddock, after Caleb Rowe saw his first action of his career and led the Terps down the field on what could have been the game-winning drive. Instead, it led to a heartbreaking loss. The Terps are ready to get 7 wins this season, and need to get through a team that has haunted them recently to get there.
A Look Back:
This Saturday will be the last time that the Maryland Terrapins ever play an ACC conference football game. The team is undoubtedly ready to move on to the Big Ten, but winning their last conference game would be a nice finish to what has been a crazy season in College Park. Somehow, after the number of injuries and obstacles that they have had to suffer, the Terps have a chance to get 7 wins, and are guaranteed to be heading to a bowl game. This really speaks to the depth that Coach Randy Edsall has built within the program, and his coaching and mentoring abilities. He takes the “next man up” saying to heart, and his entire team does as well. His players are playing their hearts out for Coach Edsall, and it’s easy to tell how much they think of him as a man and as a football coach.
C.J. Brown is another remarkable story that Terps fans have followed over the past few years. After many injuries and set-backs, he is set to lead the Terps to a bowl game and into the Big Ten next season. While he may not be the most talented guy on the field, everyone who comes into contact with him will tell you that he has as big of a heart as anyone on the field. His toughness and leadership have played a huge part in the success of this season’s team.
So, after all of the crazy occurrences and disappointing results, the Terps are going bowling, and have a chance to get 7 wins. When it’s all said and done, that’s extremely impressive. Most Terps fans were simply hoping for a bowl game at the beginning of the season, and that’s what they’re getting. While it may not have been the most perfect way to get there, somehow it happened. And you have to give a huge amount of credit to the players and coaches for that.
Zack’s Keys to the Game:
- Run the ball - Last week against Boston College, the Terps struggled to run the ball, especially on the read-option. They’ll need to get that going in Raleigh on Saturday to make their lives easier in the game.
- Pressure N.C. State’s quarterback - Whichever quarterback the Wolfpack decide to go with on Saturday, the Terps need to be able to pressure him. Both are prone to turnovers, so the defensive backs should be ready to play the ball.
- Score early, protect the lead - The Terps’ defense has been good at protecting leads this season, but had a lapse last week against Boston College. If the Maryland offense can jump out to a quick lead against N.C. State, the defense needs to contain the Wolfpack offense and limit the big, momentum-changing plays.
- Get that seventh win - Six wins is great, but seven is even better. For a team that is without its top 2 cornerbacks and top 2 receivers, 7 wins would be incredible. Not only would it give them confidence heading into their bowl game, but it would ignite the fan base and make them start believing in this team heading into next season.
- Finish strong - Related to the above key, it would be big for the Terps to leave the ACC with a bang. Beating N.C. State would not only ensure that the Wolfpack not win a conference game in 2013, but it would also be a great parting gift to the conference.