N.C. State spent the off week working on a laundry list of fixes, coach Dave Doeren said, but the top priority was trying to find a way to cause more turnovers.
The Wolfpack defense did not have a takeaway in the first two ACC games, losses to Louisville and Virginia Tech, and has only five in six games this season.
Doeren said the source of his team’s problems are in tackling.
“When you’re getting people to the football, putting hats on the ball, then you’re going to create fumbles,” Doeren said.
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“We spend a lot of time talking about it, and we’ve got to continue work on getting them but it’s a game-changer any time you can get the ball back for your offense.”
N.C. State’s late-season charge in 2014 started when its defense started creating more turnovers. The Wolfpack had nine takeaways in the last five games last season and won four of those games.
But the defense hasn’t been able to pick up where it left off. The Wolfpack forced two turnovers in the season-opener against Troy and three in a rout of South Alabama but none in the other four games.
Doeren also lamented his defense’s inability to get to the quarterback, another staple in last year’s strong finish. The Wolfpack had only one sack in a 28-13 loss to Virginia Tech, after registering four in the home loss to Louisville on Oct. 3.
More pressure equals more interceptions, Doeren said.
“When you’re hitting the quarterback a lot, and now he’s a little bit off with his timing, now you’re going to get picks,” Doeren said.
N.C. State has a chance to improve in both categories in Saturday’s game at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons have given up 20 sacks in seven games, which ranks 116th out of 127 Division I-A teams.
Wake quarterbacks John Wolford and Kendall Hinton have combined to throw nine interceptions, which ranks 109th in the country.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio