- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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The stats don’t line up in NC State’s favor. Nor do the players up front.
No. 3 Florida State enters Saturday’s Atlantic Division game in Raleigh ranked No. 18 in the country with three sacks per game. The Pack is No. 106 in the country in sacks allowed with 3.2 per game.
Quarterback Mike Glennon, who has already been sacked 14 times this season, might want to wear some extra padding this weekend.
If NC State is going to pull off yet another upset of Florida State, it’s going to have to do a much better job of protecting Glennon, but it will have to do it against one of the nation’s best defensive lines and with yet another patchwork offensive line. Three projected starters -- guard Zach Allen (foot), tackle Rob Crisp (lower back), and guard Andrew Wallace (foot) -- will all miss the Florida State game, according to NC State's Thursday injury report.
NC State has beaten Florida State in four of the past six games when the Seminoles were ranked. NC State will have the advantage of a raucous home-field crowd at Carter-Finley Stadium, but injuries and changes to NC State’s offensive line this season give the edge to the Noles up front until proven otherwise.
Florida State defensive ends Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner are currently sixth and eighth respectively in the NCAA in sacks. The pair is also No. 1 and No. 2 in the ACC in sacks. Werner and Carradine are the only teammates in the top 10 for sacks in the FBS.
“Well, they're big in the middle, and I think that's -- if you're going to be a four-down lineman team, you need to have those big 300-pounder strong guys that control and keep their linebackers free, middle linebacker free specifically, and then they have great skill on the outside,” NC State coach Tom O’Brien said. “Carradine and Werner both lead the conference in tackles for losses; they lead in sacks. They turn those guys loose because the guys in the middle can eat up a lot of blockers, and those guys set the edge and get up the field and create all kind of havoc.”
Heading into this season, NC State’s offensive line was expected to be one of its biggest strengths. All five starters had previous starting experience. Injuries have changed the situation dramatically, and NC State has lacked continuity up front. The Pack will use its fourth different starting offensive line in six games against FSU.
Starting left tackle Crisp was injured in the season opener, and backup right tackle Tyson Chandler, a redshirt sophomore, has started in Crisp’s spot in the past four games. Against The Citadel, starting right tackle Wallace suffered a foot injury, and missed the Miami game. Last week at Miami, right guard Zach Allen left the game with a foot injury and is out for the season for surgery, according to NC State's Thursday injury report.
“We only have one guy that we came into the season in the position that we wanted guys to be in,” O’Brien said. “That's definitely going to be a concern for us Saturday night against this great front of Florida State.”
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