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Previewing Wake Forest-NC State: Q&A with Backing The Pack

With Saturday's game just days away, we turned to Akula Wolf from SB Nation's NC State blog Backing The Pack to get some info on our opponents down the road. You can find my answers to his questions on BTP, and definitely give him a follow on Twitter. #ACCSOLIDARITY

So without further ado...

1.) Let's just get this out of the way now. So what exactly happened with Russell Wilson? Obviously casual ACC fans know part of the story, but there's plenty of headscratching from all over as to how he slipped right away. On a similar note, how are State fans treating the situation? Are you guys Wisconsin fans for the year or do you simply want Wilson to succeed? Is #AllRussellWilsonEverything an acquired taste?

I think the crux of it, what made it different from previous years, was that we'd reached sort of a boiling point with Mike Glennon. He's maybe the most highly regarded quarterback prospect we've signed in a decade, and he'd sat the bench for three years. How long was he willing to wait around? If Tom O'Brien hadn't been willing to commit to him early on, it's possible he may have left, and without a commitment from Russell Wilson at that point, it would have put the program in a tough spot. So to some extent, Tom O'Brien was simply hedging.

O'Brien couldn't have been happy with the fact that Russell Wilson was skipping another set of spring practices, and we're breaking in a lot of new receivers this year, which made that early work all the more important. TOB loves Glennon--that's his guy. He recruited him. I think he felt the safer play was to hand the keys to Glennon, who'd put in the work and been there every spring.

And I think, generally speaking, most State fans understood where O'Brien was coming from. Now that the season's finally here, that's certainly subject to change. Personally I thought he had to find a way to bring Wilson back, because you just don't let a proven commodity--and one of the best QBs in school history--walk away. I'd have gone all-in on this season. But that's another factor--one year of Wilson vs. two years of Mike Glennon.

I hold nothing against Russell Wilson, and I'm pulling for him. But it's weird. It's really, really weird seeing him in another uniform.

2.) On the other side of the coin is Mike Glennon. Assess the job he did last week. Is he the answer?

He didn't blow anybody away with his performance in week one, which is fine. He was crushed on a sack and gave up a fumble that was returned for a score, but he was reasonably efficient otherwise and did not throw an interception.

I don't know if he's the answer. With the amount of talent he has, I think his learning curve is going to be a sharp one. He could get a lot better in a hurry as he gains experience. It could end up that y'all were very fortunate to get him early in the season. But who knows at this point.

3.) What are expectations like in Raleigh this season? How is the mood of the program in general? What are fans' thoughts on TOB these days?

I think the mood is good in general, and I think confidence in the program is higher than it's been in a long time. Coming off a 9-4 season, that's not surprising. We've finally got some stability personnel-wise after going through a lot of growing pains due to injuries. TOB's job security is fine. Right now. In another couple of months, with this whole Glennon/Wilson dynamic, the story could be totally different.

Given our schedule, which is not especially challenging, I'd say most expect seven or eight wins. Anything worse than 7-5 would be a disappointment for sure. But expectations are more of a week-to-week thing when you're breaking in a new starting quarterback.

4.) Who are some players for Wake fans to keep an eye on Saturday? Who will be the X-Factor for the Pack this week?

Offensively I'd look for tight end George Bryan to get more involved; he's someone we figured would be a go-to target for Glennon but he didn't factor into the opener at all. Tobais Palmer had a nice debut at receiver, and could be a difference maker in the slot. And TJ Graham is always a threat to make a big play happen with his speed, whether it's at receiver or kick returner.

Defensively, both Audie Cole and Terrell Manning are worth keeping an eye on, along with safety Earl Wolff. If there's an x-factor, I'd say it's the defensive line. We've lost a couple guys to injury at defensive tackle, and while the replacements were fine against Liberty, Wake's offensive line is significantly bigger than the Flames'. I'm still not sure what to make of the DL as it's currently constituted.

5.) Obviously Demon Deacon fans have their own views on the team and what they think will happen...but I'm curious to know, what is the perception of the Deacs down I-40? How do you view the series between Wake and State, and what are your thoughts on the program overall?

After last year, I felt like the Deacs wouldn't be good enough to win this game, not by a longshot. And after the Syracuse game, I don't so much feel that way anymore. Now it looks more like Grobe has his team on its usual competitive and pesky track. We've had absolutely no luck in Winston-Salem over the last eight years, and I don't doubt Wake is capable of winning on Saturday. I think if you took a poll, the prevailing opinion would be one of extreme worry. Hard to feel otherwise about it given how things have gone for us at your place.

6.) Okay--prediction time. Who wins, what's the final score, how does it all go down?

I have no idea. I really don't even know where to begin with a guess here. I'm beginning to understand why TOB hates playing conference games in week two. But I checked with the gut and it said NC State 28, Wake Forest 20.