Here's what we'll be watching for on Saturday, along with those lions and tigers and bears:
1.) Where are we, and how are we doing?
Fun facts are fun and all that, but they mean nothing when you actually get onto the field. As esteemed somewhat-fictional coach Gary Gaines would say to each one of us, the only curses are the ones we self-impose. NC State hasn't won in Winston-Salem since 2001 and that's true and irrelevant at the same time. Those teams don't matter; the result Saturday says nothing except where we are right now, in the third season of Dave Doeren's tenure. That will matter a lot in the short-term.
2.) What did NC State learn during its time off?
Coaches like to tout the timeliness of bye weeks, whether it's because they have a few guys who needed the rest, or because they needed a break to re-evaluate. NC State, like everybody else, took time to "self-scout," as coaches put it, and basically go over everything they've done up to this point, from playcalling on down to execution.
Last season, the break following the Louisville game happened to lead up to a road win at Syracuse that would be the first step in salvaging the season; coincidence mostly, I'm sure, but maybe not entirely. The Wolfpack needs another boost off of this break, and let's hope the extra practice/study/rest time makes one possible.
3.) Hello, yes, is this the offense? It's me calling, and I'm trying not to cry.
Okay, so it's been a rough first couple of games for NC State's offense in conference play. Louisville and Virginia Tech have pretty good defenses, which is fine, but I think it was fair to expect a little more out of State's offense in those games. I don't think averaging 13 points per game in league play will get much done. Make us all feel better, offense! That is your task this Saturday. Along with scoring enough points to win. These goals are not necessarily one in the same.