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September 17, 2011

Wolfpack offense starting to take shape

NC State's offense is looking for consistency and to continue to build an identity today against South Alabama.

The Wolfpack (1-1) host the Jaguars at 6 p.m. today at Carter-Finley Stadium, with the game on ESPN3.com. South Alabama opponents are averaging just 9.0 points, 141.0 rushing yards and 112.0 passing yards per game through its two wins this season. The Jaguars have also picked off two passes, but have just two sacks.

"We respect our opponent and we are looking forward to getting back out and playing," NC State offensive coordinator Dana Bible said. "We are going to put together a good plan and work like heck to get it executed, and then look at the scoreboard afterward.

"We now should be in a stage of what we believe in our own self image and self-esteem in what we can or can't do, and that it is at a different level than it was previously."

The strength of South Alabama's defense resides at linebacker, and the secondary has plenty of experience, plus a pair of former Division I players in safety B.J. Scott (Alabama) and cornerback Damond Smith (Western Michigan).

"The middle linebacker [Jake Johnson] has transferred from Virginia Tech, and their weakside linebaker [Enrique Williams] is a really active player,, and I really like him and the way he plays," Bible said. "Their rover [Ken Barefield] is really active and they feature that part of their defense."

Scott is the marquee attraction in the secondary because of the previous hype of being Rivals.com's No. 28 overall player and No. 3 athlete coming out of high school. He signed with Alabama, but couldn't find a niche at either cornerback or wide receiver, and subsequently transferred to South Alabama.

"Down through the middle of that defense, they present a lot of challenges," Bible said.

NC State will be concentrating on what it does best against South Alabama. The Wolfpack are hoping to string together four quality quarters in a row offensively for the first time this season.

"I think part of it is people in new roles are learning their capabilities," Bible said. "I'm not certain, but it might have taken a game and a half for us on offense to figure out what we are capable of doing. That's not unusual. There are plenty of new pieces, so there are still some uncertainties. The only way for it to become certain is to do it."

NC State had three touchdowns in the second half against Wake Forest, but lost 34-27 in Winston-Salem, N.C. Bible hopes to build off that post-halftime production and said redshirt junior quarterback Mike Glennon showed some impressive traits in throwing for 315 yards and three touchdowns.

"He was very good," Bible said. "They challenged him, gave him a lot of looks and came after him. He really has grown as a quarterback in the two games. You can't put a price tag on playing a game. As much as we try to duplicate it in practice, it is still not playing the game."

Wide receivers T.J. Graham and Tobais Palmer both had a pair of big touchdown receptions to help rally the Wolfpack back. Palmer went for 65 yards, while Graham scored from 63 on a big fourth down and 10 play.

"There is now tangible evidence that we can go big play and over the top," Bible said. "We have some real speed and skill at some of the positions, but it is inexperienced. Now, all of a sudden, they aren't as experienced."

NC State dropped a handful of passes and Bible said that is always discouraging.

"Nobody is trying to do that, but that has to happen in the execution of the passing game," Bible said. "That is something we are always working hard to correct."

Another achievement coming out of the Wake Forest game was that the offensive line allowed zero sacks and did a solid job in run blocking for running backs Curtis Underwood, Jr., and James Washington.

"There was a lot of positive things that we took from the game," Bible said. "Are we disappointed and devastated from the loss? Yes, certainly. That is football. We have to build on that and be consistent."


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