SHOT #1: Put Maryland behind the sticks, and then get after the QB
Tualia Tagovailoa had a great year for the Terrapins, earning 3rd Team All-Big Ten honors from PFF (with Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy earning 1st and 2nd team honors, respectively). Tagovailoa has the ability to bail the Maryland offense out of any situation they may find themselves in.
The one area Maryland struggled with this year was protecting the QB (8.2% Sack Rate, 103rd in FBS), especially in passing situations (13.6% Pass Down Sack Rate, 125th in FBS). If NC State can win on the early downs and get the Terrapins into obvious passing downs, the opportunity to bring the pressure and get to Tagovailoa will be there. That’ll give the Wolfpack a great shot at getting the Maryland offense off the field.
SHOT #2: Protect the ball and go for efficiency over explosiveness on offense
Yes, we all just spent the entire season lamenting over NC State’s offensive approach of being super conservative in an effort to not turn the ball over, essentially eschewing any effort to move the ball down the field in the name of risk aversion.
And yet here I am basically saying that’s what we need to do in this game. Yes, I hate myself sometimes.
Maryland’s defense is a solid unit. Not spectacular, but certainly above average. There are not a lot of weaknesses to exploit, but the two areas that the Terps defense doesn’t do particularly well in are forcing 3-and-outs and forcing turnovers. I’m sure that’s music to Dave Doeren’s ears.
The Wolfpack will, of course, need to take some chances in the game, but if they can find some efficiency in the run game and/or short and intermediate passing game, while protecting the ball, sustained drives can be had.
SHOT #3: Fisher’s Christmas Whiskey
What? You thought I was going to go with some Old Bay flavored abomination from Maryland? No.
I picked up a bottle of Fisher’s Christmas Whiskey from Fainting Goat Spirits in Greensboro on a whim a couple days before Christmas. It was originally destined to be a gift, but my curiosity got the better of me. Fisher’s Christmas Whiskey is a 2-year-old American Single Malt whiskey infused with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.
It’s definitely heavy on the spices, and I also found a pecan flavor to the whiskey. It wasn’t my favorite at first taste, but grew on me quickly, and by the end of the first glass I found myself going back for another glass... and another... and another.
It’s Christmastime and it’s a local liquor from our home state. So get yourself a bottle (while you still can - it is a limited edition offering), have yourself a shot, and root for the Pack!