NC State Vs. Tennessee Preview No. 25: It's A Quarterback Past Optimism

We're wrapping up our Tennessee preview series today with a look at the quarterbacks. Number 25. Many thanks to Omega for carrying this series, because it's been enjoyable from start to finish.

I've gone on record in a couple of places that I feel like Tennessee is going to win this game, and the primary reason for that is my suspicion that our linebacking corps will be ineffective in pressuring Tyler Bray or handling pass coverage or handling anything really. I mean, it's possible we could get all the pressure we need from the defensive line, but when was the last time we could rely on that with any sort of consistency?

We're pretty similar in that both teams figure to rely heavily on the passing game. Tennessee has Bray, who while fragile is as talented as Mike Glennon, and the Vols also have Justin Hunter, who is a talent we can't hope to match (from a receiver vs. receiver perspective). Our secondary is great but playing defensive back is by definition fighting a losing battle. The linebackers have been a crucial part of State's pass rush since Jon Tenuta arrived in Raleigh, and with so much unknown, this whole situation could result in a big identity crisis. Er, what I mean is, everything is going to be fine. Like double rainbow fine.

Bray completed 59.5% of his passes last season and averaged eight yards per attempt. He threw for nearly 2,000 yards and averaged about 42 attempts per interception. (Bray was limited to seven games in 2011 because of injury.) Glennon posted a better completion percentage, but picked up just 6.7 yards per attempt and his interception rate was a bit worse. I think it's safe to call this position a push heading into Friday, so it's the pass support around these two that's going to make the difference and most likely decide the outcome of this game.

It's not that the ground games can't make a big difference in the outcome...it's just unlikely one will prove decisive given where these teams are coming from. If the Pack's linebackers are better than I expect them to be in Game 1, that could change things dramatically. If not...

And this has been you requisite wet blanket for the week. Sorry, everyone.

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