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October 5, 2013
Offensively, there's no secret about one component of Wake Forest's attack: they want to get the ball to star receiver Michael Campanaro, a lot.
NCSU senior corner Dontae Johnson knows that about as well as anyone. Two years ago in Winston-Salem, Johnson was part of a defense that saw Campanaro torch State for a half before leaving the game with an injury. Campanaro caught five passes for 93 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown, and threw for a 40-yard score on a trick play. Not surprisingly, Wake led 20-6 at the break en route to a 34-27 win.
Last year, Johnson drew the assignment on Campanaro. He was told to cover him man-to-man pretty much the entire game. The result: five catches but for just 14 yards, although Campanaro for the second straight year did throw a touchdown pass, a fact Johnson has reminded his secondary teammates about this week.
"I think my being long and tall, that really affected his play," the 6-foot-2, 195 pound Johnson noted about last season's game. "He plays the slot a lot, and I feel like he hasn't seen anybody that's long. I guess by me being long and tall gave me an advantage on him."
Despite Johnson's success covering Campanaro last year, Johnson is not taking anything for granted.
"He's a tough competitor," Johnson noted about Campanaro. "He's very shifty for his size. He's very agile, and he has a knack for the ball. He catches the ball in traffic, he catches the ball over the middle and he just makes plays. The throw him the ball and he makes plays. That's why he is such a great competitor and a great player."
Johnson also noted that with a new coaching staff in Raleigh, the scheme will look different Saturday than last year.
"We are going to mix up a few things and just make sure we know where he's at and try to eliminate his production," Johnson noted. "We are not going to be able to stop everything thrown to him but just eliminate his production and make other people beat us.
"We still got to play our game plan as a defensive unit, make sure guys are in the right places at right times because all their receivers are great players. They can all make plays. If you go to sleep on those receivers, they'll burn you for a big play. We can't have that. We got to make sure we know where Mike is and everybody else play assignment football and do their job."
Stopping Campanaro would go a long way to ending perhaps the most notable losing streak in NCSU football. The Pack has not won at Wake Forest since 2001 and has lost seven of the last eight games they have played in Winston-Salem.
Johnson remembers two years ago how State rallied from being down 34-13 deficit to cut the lead to just seven before failing to convert a late fourth down and then not stopping Wake Forest on a third down.
"Hopefully it ends on a better term, better note than that," Johnson said. "We haven't won there in a long time, what better way to change that?"
BB&T Field, or Grove Stadium for ACC traditionalists, seats 31,500, but it has proven to be a difficult venue not only for NCSU but numerous other conference foes.
Johnson does not believe that there is anything unique about playing in Winston-Salem, rather it's a product of Wake Forest doing what good home teams do.
"Any team playing at home definitely gets an advantage. Winston is just one of those tough places to play, but any team that plays at home has an advantage over the away team," Johnson said.
"The crowd can't change what we do on the field. We got to make sure we do our job as a team."
N.C. State NEWS