Kyle Wright’s status changes from day to day, and he most likely won’t play. Kirby Freeman has confidence after leading Miami on a fourth-quarter comeback. Freeman has to make better decisions with the football and manage the offense to longer-sustaining drives. Daniel Evans is an improving quarterback, throwing six touchdowns and passing for 335 yards or more.
Advantage: NC STATE
Miami’s group up front played well the last drive in Florida State. The unit has given up 13 sacks this season and has grown since the beginning of the season. North Carolina State’s unit has allowed 19 sacks, but has played better in the two-game win streak.
Graig Cooper showed what he is capable of doing in the game-winning scoring drive against Florida State. Javarris James and Shawnbrey McNeal should also run effectively against a poor run defense. The Wolfpack’s Jamelle Eugene broke out with 112 rushing yards last week. Eugene has only averaged 44.5 yards per game on the season.
Darnell Jenkins continues to make big plays for the offense and has been a go-to target. Sam Shields needs to get more involved this week and Lance Leggett should be motivated coming back from injury. NC State’s Donald Bowens is a deep threat with 454 yards receiving and three touchdowns. John Dunlap also has found the end zone three times.
Miami has done a good job despite the injuries at defensive tackle. Teraz McCray has stepped up with some big plays. Vegas Franklin and Joe Joseph continue to progress. Calais Campbell and Eric Moncur must get to the quarterback more than they have in the past few games. North Carolina State’s Willie Young is their best defensive player with 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss.
Colin McCarthy’s return to the lineup showed how valuable he is to this defense. McCarthy and Tavares Gooden have both been steady contributors. The Wolfpack have given up 190.6 rushing yards per game. Ernest Jones leads the team with 60 tackles.
Miami’s secondary has to do a better job containing receivers on third downs. Randy Phillips has confidence after recording two interceptions in Tallahassee. NC State’s secondary has been inconsistent all season. Cornerback Jeremy Gray has a team-high two interceptions.
Miami’s special teams improved dramatically against Florida State. Matt Bosher had his best game of his career, Daren Daly made a key field goal and the Hurricanes scored on a fake field goal. NC State has been very good on special teams. Place kicker Steven Hauschka is 10-for-10 in field goal attempts while kick returner Darrell Blackman has scored once and has given his team good field position.
Advantage: NC STATE
Saturday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPNU and broadcast locally on WVUM 90.5 FM. The game begins at noon.
Visit TheMiamiHurricane.com for a live blog of the game.