NC State defensive coordinator Mike Archer knows that he has his hands full defending West Virginia's potent offense. The Mountaineers are led by sophomore quarterback Geno Smith.
Smith completed 219 of 333 passes for 2,567 yards and 23 touchdowns with just six interceptions for an impressive quarterback efficiency rating of 149.71. Archer sees some of NC State redshirt junior quarterback Russell Wilson in Smith, with one notable exception.
"He is taller," Archer said. "He is bigger. Having seen him in high school he is a bigger version of Russell. The problem is he is 6-foot-4. He can see over the top of people better than Russell, but he's similar, yeah.
"The thing we have to deal with is now from our standpoint is we have been really good against the run but horrible in the pass. Just looking at them here this week, they do like to run the football. It's a misconception because everybody thinks it's West Virginia that they don't run it. They average 150 yards rushing.
"Our biggest concern is we have to get a lot better on the perimeter and dealing with the passing. You can't keep giving up 400 yards a game passing and be successful, so right now that's our biggest concern. We're not really in game preparations right now. We are trying to get better at the things we need to get well."
Archer joked that anyone who has watched tapes of NC State's last two games will try to throw the ball on NC State.
"Going against the offense helps because you are getting the speed," Archer said. "The one thing about bowl preparations is you're going good against good until you go down for the actual preparations, so we're going against Owen [Spencer] and Jarvis [Williams], T.J. [Graham], and those guys, so that's pretty good.
"We have to teach our players to understand what the personnel is in the game and look at formation sets, because that tells you a lot about what they do. They have a system. They believe in the system, and they execute the system. Like any other system, you have to understand what they are trying to do base on the formation."
NC State's defense though is certainly better prepared to handle West Virginia's dynamic offense, which includes a potent running back duo of speedy Noel Devine and bruiser Ryan Clarke, than it would have been a year ago at this time. Archer attributes that to simply being a year older in many positions.
"There was a few of them back there that [last year] really thought what they knew, but really didn't know until the season was over," Archer noted. "I don't know if they really didn't know until they started looking at the cut-ups, and you can sit there and look at it over and over and watch it happen over and over, and then you can go out there in the spring and actually have it corrected and see success against the same route and formation. That's when they understand, 'Maybe I didn't know as much as I thought I did.'"