September 7, 2007

Keys to the game: NC State at B.C.

The North Carolina State football team lost its season opener last week, but have a chance to redeem itself with a big game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Boston College.

The theme all week is that NC State first-year coach Tom O'Brien is making his first return trip to Boston College, where he coached the last 10 years. However, it will be the players who have to execute and get it done on the field.

There are several questions going into the game, which will be on ESPN2, but here are the Keys To The Game.

Slow down B.C.'s passing game

Boston College senior quarterback Matt Ryan tore apart a solid Wake Forest secondary for 408 yards, showcasing an improved wide receiving corps. NCSU cornerbacks Levin Neal, J.C. Neal, Jimmie Sutton III and Jeremy Gray will be put to the test, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Wolfpack play three cornerbacks at the same time in a nickel defense.

B.C. starting wide receivers Kevin Challenger and Brandon Robinson work the short routes, but the emergence of sophomores Rich Gunnell and Clarence Megwa have added a vertical, big play dimension that the Eagles have lacked in recent years.

Strength up the middle

NC State is missing both starting defensive tackles DeMario Pressley (knee injury) and Alan-Michael Cash (father's funeral), and B.C. will try to exploit it. Remaining defensive tackles John Bedics, Ted Larsen and Markus Kuhn will get tested early and often, and junior college transfer Antoine Holmes could also be in the DT rotation.

The young defensive tackles need middle linebacker [db]James Martin II[/db] and strong safety DaJuan Morgan to step up in the middle of the field.

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