College Football Preview: N.C. State vs. Wake Forest
Published 12:00 am Friday, September 9, 2011
WINSTON-SALEM ó Wake Forest and North Carolina State are playing their first Atlantic Coast Conference game a little earlier than their coaches might prefer.
The Demon Deacons (0-1) play host to N.C. State (1-0) on today in the Wolfpack’s earliest league opener since 2007.
“I’d like to be like the Big Ten and play your four nonconference games, and then go into conference,” N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien said. “But this is the way the schedule breaks, so this is how we have to do it.”
The focus for both teams will be on their starting quarterbacks after they had strong opening games last week with opposite results.
Wake Forest’s Tanner Price threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters while giving his team a 15-point lead against Syracuse. But after he sprained his left knee early in the fourth, the Orange rallied for a 36-29 overtime victory.
“The receivers were catching everything I was throwing their way,” Price said. “But there were a lot of things that didn’t go our way. We had a lot of missed opportunities.”
Glennon, the backup to all-ACC quarterback Russell Wilson the last two years, had less-impressive numbers ó 156 yards on 18-of-31 passing with one touchdown ó but he stayed out of trouble despite getting sacked four times in a 43-21 win over Liberty.
“Mike took a hit, but he got up and it didn’t bother him,” O’Brien said. “When things weren’t going his way, he didn’t panic.”
The defenses may carry the day in this one.
Before Price went out, the Demon Deacons, who had the ACC’s worst defense last season, held Syracuse to just two first downs and 52 total yards offensively in the first half. The Orange finished with 15 first downs and 299 total yards.
When Price went down with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, so did Wake Forest’s confidence. That allowed the Orange to tie the game and win it in OT.
“Our guys didn’t handle that very well,” Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said of Price’s injury. “We were in really good position to win a football game, and we let it slip away. Our guys I think need to understand that there’s going to be a little bit of adversity in every game, and we have to keep fighting and find a way to get it done.”
While the Wolfpack’s defense gave up 406 total yards against the Flames ó including 295 yards passing ó they also forced a team-record-tying seven turnovers, with Brian Slay returning a fumble 52 yards for a score.
“The point of emphasis coming into this season was turnovers,” O’Brien said. “It’s one thing we’ve harped on and worked on the last three years with this team. … We want them to be aggressive. It all starts with the pressure up front and having the quarterback release the ball in time so that you can make a break.”