Florida State heads on the road to face a reeling N.C. State team that just dropped a heartbreaker to Miami. The Wolfpack are reshuffling their offensive line, trying to find answers for a defense that has been torched by the Hurricanes and Tennessee this season, and still haunted by the memories of last year's 34-0 loss to Florida State.
So, how is NC State planning on staying competitive this year? For some insight, we checked in with David Morrison, who covers the Wolfpack for the Greensboro News & Record.
NoleNation: Jimbo Fisher and EJ Manuel both rave about how talented Mike Glennon is, but he didn't find much success against FSU a year ago. What has Glennon said about last year's meeting, and how's he planning on improving this time around?
David Morrison: Glennon has said that FSU is the fastest team he’s ever faced, before or since. To the point where he wasn’t really prepared last year for that speed. He said he’ll have a better idea of how much time he’ll have to throw this year before the rush gets to him.
NN: David Amerson got plenty of hype after recording 13 INTs last year, but he's been picked on routinely this year, including a pretty bad performance last week against Miami. What's been the difference for Amerson?
Morrison: Amerson's a very intuitive player that makes his living guessing and jumping routes. When he's right, he comes up with interceptions. When he's wrong, he gets torched. He's been wrong much more often this year and has yet to compensate in his aggressiveness.
NN: Speaking of that Miami game, from a defensive standpoint it was pretty much a disaster for N.C. State. How much do you think the Wolfpack will be looking to tweak from a technical standpoint this week, and what did the outcome do to the team from an emotional standpoint?
Morrison: It'd be a mistake to change too much schematically in the week leading up to the toughest game of the year. From an emotional standpoint, it has to wear on the defense that, in both of State's losses this year, it has gotten shredded. Saturday's loss bothered the teams' captains enough to call a players only meeting Sunday to make sure everyone is on the same page.
NN: Amerson's flair for INTs was a big help last year, but this season it's been N.C. State's penchant for giving the ball away that has been front and center. Through five games, Glennon has six INTs and the team has seven fumbles lost (and another seven they put on the ground but managed to hang on to). How big of a focus have the turnovers been, particularly going against a defense like FSU's this week?
Morrison: It's got to be a big emphasis, especially after giving the ball up six times to Miami. Cutting down on mistakes, in general, seems to be the focal point this week. The Wolfpack had an uncharacteristically high amount of penalties and turnovers last week and were still in it. Things could get ugly if Saturday's a repeat of that.
NN: Given what you've seen of N.C. State so far, what do you think are the two or three biggest keys to the Wolfpack pulling the upset?
Morrison: First, find a way for the piecemeal offensive line to give Glennon enough time against a scary front. Second, keep Manuel in the pocket, because bad things happened when Stephen Morris broke contain. Third, find some way to negate the sizable speed advantage the Seminoles enjoy. Good luck with all three...