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College football:N.C. State searching for answers

Associated Press
RALEIGH ó N.C. State hasn’t had much to be encouraged about lately, but at least the Wolfpack has been in this spot before.
That’s one positive coach Tom O’Brien is hanging his hopes on.
“We’ve got four games left, and we have been pretty good in November,” he said. “So let’s go out and see what we can get done.”
N.C. State (3-5, 0-4 ACC) is 6-2 in November in two seasons under O’Brien, but this year it is the only winless team its league.
One reason has been a leaky defense that has allowed 146 points in its last three games, losses to Duke, Boston College and Florida State.
Last week in Tallahassee, Fla., N.C. State allowed 7.6 yards per play and fell 45-42. A week earlier, Boston College gained 7.1 yards a snap in a 52-20 victory.
“It’s embarrassing because we’re better than that,” senior safety Clem Johnson said. “It’s just kind of tough, because personally I feel that we’ve been practicing pretty well and not transferring it to the game field.”
Johnson expressed confidence that the Wolfpack can get back to being the defense it was earlier in the season, when it held South Carolina to 256 yards and then dominated Football Championship Subdivision teams Murray State and Gardner-Webb.
“We just haven’t been able to get it together,” he said. “We just have to find that solution and get it rolling again.”
Johnson said the Wolfpack figured to extend the momentum from last season, when it finished with four straight wins and claimed its first bowl berth since 2005.
“We kind of wanted to start where we left off, and it didn’t happen,” he said.
Instead, the Pack is back where it was last November, facing a stretch of must-win games to be bowl-eligible. Last year, the Wolfpack was 2-6 before claiming a Papajohns.com Bowl berth. This season, two of the Wolfpack’s three wins have come against lower-division teams, meaning it must finish with seven wins to play in the postseason.
Injuries are one reason for the struggles: 11 players are out for the season. The latest is offensive tackle R.J. Mattes, who tore ligaments early in the FSU game. Also, N.C. State took on the Seminoles without Ray Michel, who had started 21 games in a row at middle linebacker before being sidelined with an ankle injury.
“We all keep waiting for a break,” O’Brien said. “Something good’s got to happen sometime. We can’t keep going south forever. No sense feeling sorry for ourselves.”

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