Deacs, Wolfpack eye bowl slot
One thing will be assured when the final whistle blows and Wake Forest and N.C. State walk off the field on Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The winner will be bowl eligible with six wins while the loser will still need one more victory to qualify for the postseason.
Both teams sit at 5-4, with Wake coming off a crucial win over Boston College and the Wolfpack trying to snap a two-game losing streak and trying to rebound from an ugly 33-6 loss to a Virginia team, which snapped a six-game losing streak. Both Wake and State will have two games remaining after Saturday. Wake finishes with Notre Dame. State has Clemson and Boston College.
“Last week, our kids realized we were in a tough spot with four good teams left on our schedule and needing to win two to have a chance to play in the bowl game,” Grobe said. “We got one (win) out of the way but they know what’s at stake, that we’ve got to win another game to become bowl eligible. As a coach, what you are focusing on play well for three weeks, not just getting a win. If you focus too much on becoming bowl eligible and what might happen, you don’t play very good football. So, we’re focusing more on a very talented and well-coach N.C. State team.”
The Wolfpack’s poor performance against the Cavaliers came a week after a heart-breaking loss to rival North Carolina on Giovani Bernard’s punt return in the final minute.
State coach Tom O’Brien acknowledged the Wolfpack suffered from a letdown last week while committing five turnovers and mustering just 216 yards of offense while their defense was gouged for 446 yards, 248 on the ground.
“It’s mental,” O’Brien said at his press conference on Monday. “It’s a matter of getting yourself ready to play and playing the best that we can. . . That’s where the change has to come. For whatever reason, we didn’t show up and play the way we are capable of playing last Saturday and it’s on us to get ourselves back to the way we were playing the previous four weeks before that. If that happens then we are going to put ourselves in a position to win.”
O’Brien and his coaches believed State was on the right track when practice ended on Thursday.
“Somewhere between Thursday and Saturday something changed,” O’Brien said. “You talk to the offensive coaches; they thought they had a really good week of practice. There was enthusiasm, they were sharp, and then we went out and there were a lot of guys on offense that didn’t play very well. That’s as bad as we played offensively all year. The bottom line is, they controlled the line of scrimmage both on offense and defense which is something that we’ve always prided ourselves on.”