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Previewing the Opponent: NC State Wolfpack

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NC State Wolfpack
Record: 3-3 (0-3 ACC)
Head Coach: Dave Doeren
All-Time: FSU Leads 22-11

Overview: This is the game that Florida State fans have been looking forward to since last year. If you remember -- and it's unlikely that Seminoles fans have forgotten -- NC State beat FSU 17-16 last October. It was a brutal upset. Up 16-0 at the half Florida State's offense would go quiet while the 'Pack eked out just enough against FSU's defense to stun the Seminoles and end their title hopes.

But as Florida State's players and coaches have said all week, this is a different year and a different team. That doesn't make them any less sick over it, but that's especially true in light of the coaching change NC State made at the end of last season. This Wolfpack team will more closely resemble last year's Orange Bowl opponent, Northern Illinois -- Dave Doeren's former team -- than it will the team that FSU met in Raleigh last season.

How FSU Stacks Up: Provided Florida State doesn't come out too amped or flat, they outclass NC State. That's not to say that the Wolfpack don't still do things well, but they are 0-3 in the ACC and the common opponent they share with FSU -- Clemson -- handled NC State in Raleigh. 

Dave Doeren is a very good coach, NC State is going to improve under him but his players are not in yet and his system is not running the way it did at NIU. Look for Florida State to work on shutting down the run game early and forcing NC State to become one dimensional on offense. Florida State has one of the top secondaries in the nation -- as it proved against a much more potent Clemson passing attack last weekend -- and the quicker Jeremy Pruitt's unit can force Brandon Mitchell to air it out the better.

Offensively the Seminoles are going to go out and do what they have all season. Cam Erving said this week that they don't believe in letting a defense dictate what they're going to do, they dictate tempo. A lot of times that's just talk. This year -- given the evidence -- I'd argue that's probably true. James Wilder Jr. will be out Saturday as he continues to work back from a concussion he suffered last weekend which means that Devonta Freeman should see a few more carries and Karlos Williams will also see more playing time. Then there's that Jameis Winston fellow and those acrobatic receivers -- look for them to get involved at some point too.

Provided Florida State doesn't repeat the mistakes of last year, this should be a good Saturday for the folks in Tallahassee. Bobby Bowden will plant the spear before the game as FSU celebrates his return and then the Seminoles will look to get revenge against the team that embarrassed them last year.

But don't look for NC State to just roll over either.

"They’re coming off a bye week. They’ll be rested, they’ll be healed. They’ll get guys back on the field. They’ll have a lot of time to study, bring in new wrinkles to the game," said Jimbo Fisher on Monday. "(We’ve) got to get our kids focused and move on, I think they will. They understand that. We’ll get a good week of practice, get rested and get ready mentally and prepare to play this week and win the game during the week with that preparation.

Three Players to Watch:

1.) Brandon Mitchell, QB -- Back from an injury this weekend, if NC State wants a repeat of last year he will have to have a big game.

2.) Bryan Underwood, WR -- The Wolfpack's leading receiver is tied for 10th all time at NC State in career touchdown receptions.

3.) Jack Tacho, CB -- The freshman had two interceptions in NC State's last game.

Quote of the Week: "I remember the day he retired – it rained for three days straight in Tallahassee. He never came around after that and I haven’t seen him in a long time. He’s a legend – I came here to play for Coach Bowden first. He’s a legend and I wanted to play for a legend, and I was lucky enough to be on the team for a year.”

-RS Sr. C Bryan Stork on Bobby Bowden

 

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