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Some N.C. State background

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I had an email correspondence with Mike Potter, who covers the Wolfpack for CBSsports.com. You can read all his outlook from the NC State perspective here. You can follow the NC State RapidReports Twitter feed here.

He already posted these five keys to tonight's game for NC State and here are some of his comments about what the Wolfpack bring to the table.

On the quarterback:

The lead story since the beginning of practice, of course, has been the departure of Russell Wilson to Wisconsin and his replacement, Mike Glennon. Glennon was a highly-touted high school recruit whose brother was QB at Virginia Tech. Glennon and Wilson have vastly different styles. Wilson is the run-and-throw guy, while Glennon is a 6-6 drop-back passer with an extremely strong arm. He has done pretty well and been able to complete a few bombs, and has steadily improved as the season has progressed.

On the defense:

The defense was supposed to be the strength of the team, but has been a weak spot at least partially due to injuries to better players in the front seven. DE Jeff Rieskamp (shoulder) who is from Cincinnati, has missed the last two games and may have a 30 percent chance to be ready. DT J.R. Sweezy, the defensive co-captain, is still out for at least this game (broken left foot), and OLB Terrell Manning who was a vocal guy is out three weeks after Monday knee surgery. The secondary is solid, but can State create a pass rush?

On the offense:

Wilson wasn't the only loss on offense, as State had to replace a lot of guys at skilled positions. The down-line guys are steady, and the proven returnees are TE George Bryan - who is the team's best player but has gotten extreme attention from pass defenses - and FB Taylor Gentry who blocks and catches passes but has NEVER had a carry from scrimmage. O'Brien has promised him one this year, but we all know it will be at home.

On injury situations:

Top RB Mustafa Greene was injured in the spring (foot surgery) and won't likely be back until the next game at earliest. Curtis Underwood, who was going to transfer to North Alabama before Greene was hurt and O'Brien talked him into coming back after Greene's injury, and James Washington split time at halfback. They'll also catch plenty of passes.

On the wideouts:

State lost its top two WRs from last season (graduation). Six guys rotate through the positions. T.J. Graham is the return wizard whose catching ability was suspect in the past, but he has gotten better at that with a couple of big receiving TDs and is extremely dangerous on returns. Junior transfer athlete Tobais Palmer is the other big-play speedster and even makes tackles on the kick teams.

On the special teams:

One other note is that State is the only FBS team in the country using true freshmen at placekicker (Niklas Sade), punter (Wil Baumann) and long snapper (Scott Thompson). They would have gotten about a B-minus for the opening game against Liberty, but have been aces all around since.

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