The North Carolina State Wolfpack are the favorites in Saturday afternoon’s matchup against the Virginia Cavaliers. Even though coming back home after a tough loss in Chapel Hill against the Tar Heels, the Wolfpack are expected to be dominant against a team that has left much to be desired since early in the season. However, it isn’t a surprise that the Pack has struggled offensively and defensively this season and especially when it comes to the first quarter.
Looking back at wins and losses this season, NC State has won on games where they have been able to contain the opponents’ offensive attack during the first quarter: 3 points to Florida State and Maryland each. In the games against UCONN, South Alabama, and The Citadel, the Wolfpack only allowed for a combined seven points in the first quarter.
Flipping the tables and looking at NC State losses (Tennessee, Miami, and North Carolina), the Pack has struggled defensively in all of these games. When you put yourself in a hole so early in the game, not only does it make it harder for the offense to find a rhythm and for the defense to rest, but it also impacts the team spiritually and psychologically. No one likes losing. It messes with us and makes the other team acquire better morale.
As we look towards the battle between the Wolfpack and the Cavaliers Saturday at noon, NC State needs to come out strong defensively and put a stop to the Virginia offense early on. We also need to Mike Glennon show us the same kind of passing skills that we saw displayed against Carolina with a better performance by the wide receivers and the running backs.
NC State can easily win this game. However, headed into the last four games of the season, the Wolfpack don’t need to just win this game, they need to dominate and show all the defensive and offensive talent and ability they can bring to the field.