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November 5, 2011
NC State fifth-year senior tight end and co-captain George Bryan simply does not like today's opponent. It's nothing against the current North Carolina players, but Bryan doesn't like anything to do with the college 30 minutes to the east.
The Castle Hayne, N.C., native said his home area is split between UNC and NC State fans. The two-time All-ACC tight end has always had a simple philosophy when Tar Heels fans try to be friends with him.
"It was always a constant battle between people," said Bryan about the Wilmington area. "I don't hang out with anybody that pulls for Carolina. We all get along well because we all pull for State. Not one person [pulls for UNC].
"I just don't like Carolina, but it's nothing against their players. I just don't like Carolina, and I can't explain it. It's just one of those things. It's like you are born not liking something to eat."
Bryan badly wants to go 5-for-5 in victories over UNC. The kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium.
"It means a lot, and I try not to think about it," Bryan said. "But it is the next one, and I don't want to go out losing to them. They are a good team and if we don't play well, they can win the game. I think we will come ready to play."
Bryan and fifth-year senior defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy addressed the team Friday in the annual speech the captains give.
"We'll be letting the younger guys know how important and big this game is," Bryan said. "The last thing I want is for some of the key players that are younger to come out and be shocked with the atmosphere and the way this game is going to be."
Bryan caught three passes for 17 yards against Florida State last week, which was modest progress for the decorated tight end. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder has 13 catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns this season, which is off the pace of last year. He caught 40 passes for 422 yards and six scores in 2010.
"Everybody, myself included, definitely needs to make some plays because it's a huge game," Bryan said. "I feel like it was definitely baby steps. I definitely feel like there has got to be more for me this game. I have to step up."
Bryan said the key for the Wolfpack on offense is to create a new line of scrimmage.
"We have to push them back," Bryan said. "We have to start off early and keep scoring. The backs are going to run hard and it will take care of itself."
Bryan said a win over UNC would give NC State its confidence back. NCSU has to win three out of the last four games to become bowl eligible.
"This is one that everyone marks on their calendar for NC State and Carolina," Bryan said. "It keeps us bowl eligible and keeps us moving up in the ACC where we want it to be."
Getting a boost from the Carter-Finley Stadium crowd will also help the Wolfpack players.
"It's going to be loud and crazy and everyone is going to be there," Bryan said. "They are great fans and they'll do what they've been doing all year. The campus, you can feel more of a buzz with everybody. There are more people talking to us and asking about the game, and stuff like that."