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N.C. State is focused on controlling the controllables.
After last weekend’s highly anticipated showdown with No. 12 West Virginia was scuttled due to Hurricane Florence, the Wolfpack can not afford to look back.
This week the Pack hits the road to take on Marshall in what is, at least for the time being, the final nonconference test of the campaign.
Had the game against the Mountaineers taken place, State could have had a marquee victory against a top-tier opponent — the kind that propels a program — or just as easily had a brutal loss that rendered this season’s squad an afterthought only a quarter of the way into it.
Instead the next contest for the Wolfpack, while still involving a school from West Virginia, does not have the same national allure.
It does present problems.
Marshall awaits N.C. State with the opportunity to settle a score from last season and claim a win over a Power Five school at Edwards Stadium in Huntington, West Virginia — one of the toughest places to play in the country.
“It’s not ideal, but it’s out of our control too, so you make the most of it,” N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren said of the unexpected off week. “I told the players you try to find a positive in everything. We were a little beat up at the time. .. I think having that chance to kind of hit reset, catch up on our sleep and it was good for all of us.”
Of the Thundering Herd, which the Wolfpack dispatched by a 37-20 score last season at Carter-Finley Stadium, Doeren said: “They are 2-0 and (were) 8-5 last season. The biggest thing that jumps out as is they’ve got 17 of 22 starters back when you look at their offense and defensive teams. ... Basically the entire defense that we played against and they played us well.”
TE ANGELINE CLEARED
One player the Wolfpack will have available to attack the Marshall defense is tight end Cary Angeline. The transfer from Southern California was ordered to sit out three weeks by the NCAA following his arrival. The cancellation of the West Virginia contest means it is now only a two-game absence.
Angeline will get a look Saturday.
“We’re going to get him going in practice this week and see where he’s at,” Doeren said. “He’s been on the scout team getting ready. It’s not going to be like all of a sudden he’s out there getting 30 catches in a game. He’s going to have to work his way into playing and blocking, but he will play. He’ll be a part of what we do and he’ll work his way in.”
The hope for N.C. State is that the addition of talent at the tight end position will also help its lagging running game take off before conference play.
“Getting Dylan Autenrieth (from injury) back is a big deal for some of our run game and adding him and Cary at the same time presents more opportunity for us personnel-wise,” Doeren said.
STUCK ON 11
The loss of the 12th game was not ideal for the Wolfpack.
It could have ramifications later in the season but N.C. State is grateful that would be the extent of any damage.
“I would love to have a 12th game, personally, but it has to fit what we want,” Doeren said Monday. “We have a bye week that we want to keep for the reasons it was put there, middle of the year before Clemson and everyone else.
“Obviously here we weren’t hit as hard (by the hurricane) as I expected. I’m really proud of our operation staff. A lot happened last week in a pretty short period of time. We know (Marshall’s) fans will be great and we’ll see where the weather goes. We’re expecting to be wet when we play on Saturday and we’ll do our best to prepare for that as we always would.”
Rob McLamb of Inside Pack Sports has covered N.C. State athletics and recruiting since 2012. You can follow him on Twitter @RobMcLamb.