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Friday, November 11, 2011
Familiar foe for Boston College

By Jack McCluskey
Special to ESPNBoston.com

NEWTON, Mass. -- Just how familiar are they with each other?

"It's like you're playing your older brother," Eagles linebacker Luke Kuechly said before practice Wednesday. "They know what you're doing, you know what they're doing. It's whoever can do it the best."

Yes, NC State and Boston College know each other quite well, thanks to former BC boss Tom O'Brien switching from the latter to the former in December 2006.

And it's not just O'Brien who knows the Eagles intimately. The Wolfpack coaching staff includes six coaches (offensive coordinator Dana Bible, tight ends coach Jim Bridge and offensive line coach Don Horton among them) who followed the head man from BC to NC State.

Frank Spaziani coached with O'Brien in some capacity for 26 years, including eight years as O'Brien's defensive coordinator at BC.

Suffice to say there aren't likely to be many surprises for either coaching staff on Saturday (12:30 p.m., ESPN3).

NC State is coming off a 13-0 smothering of North Carolina, in which the Wolfpack D recorded four sacks and three interceptions and allowed the Tar Heels a total of 3 yards rushing.

BC, of course, lost its previous game 38-7 to Florida State.

Coincidentally, NC State's last loss also came at the hands of the Seminoles (34-0 two weeks ago). Not that the Eagles will be taking any solace in that. Spaziani said they have to be careful when trying to use last season's meeting, a 44-17 NC State runaway at Carter-Finley Stadium, as motivation.

"When you're 2-7, I'm not sure you want to remind anyone of how you got handled," Spaziani said, with a laugh.

"This is a very interesting opportunity for all of us, to dig our way out of this. We'll see how it goes."

The Eagles face challenges on both sides of the ball.

"They're a tough football team, they're a hungry football team. They've got good schemes offensively. They execute well," free safety Hampton Hughes said of this week's opponent. "They've got a good pocket passer with a big arm. That's gonna be a challenge for us."

Redshirt junior Mike Glennon has thrown 20 touchdown passes this season, his first as the Wolfpack starter, which places him fifth on the single-season list. Only Philip Rivers and Russell Wilson have thrown more.

The 6-foot-6, 232-pound Glennon's also produced big plays, with TD passes of 63, 65, 67 and 87 yards.

"We just need to keep everything in front of us," Kuechly said.

And on offense, quarterback Chase Rettig needs to be careful with the ball.

NC State sophomore defensive back David Amerson is the nation's leader with nine interceptions, breaking the school record for INTs in a single season.

The Eagles are also preparing for a lot of motion in the Wolfpack defensive front.

"It's a way of playing," junior right tackle Emmett Cleary said. "You've gotta be good with your eyes and good with your feet. You can't be leaning on anything because they're gonna move on every play."

Cleary made it clear the offensive line wasn't happy with its performance against Florida State, when the rushing game struggled badly a week after springing Rolandan "Deuce" Finch for 243 yards against Maryland.

"We didn't do the job on Thursday," he said. "We had some miscommunication errors where we weren't working on the right people & and against a real solid defense like that you're not gonna go anywhere [if you do that]. We know what we've gotta do and we've gotta go do it."

It's that simple. Both teams know what the other will try to do, and which team wins will come down to which team is able to execute its plan better.

Because of all the uncharacteristic losing the Eagles have done this season, there's a little extra motivation to win on senior day.

"You've gotta finish the season strong," sophomore linebacker Steele Divitto said. "The seniors absolutely deserve this win at home. So all the younger kids have to step up also and do their role so we get that win."

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.