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O-Line Play Could Be Key For Wolfpack

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State coach Chuck Amatolooks at his offensive line and sees no All-Americans, noall-conference players and not much depth.

And he wonders just how the Wolfpack (2-0) will be able to blockNorth Carolina's Julius Peppers and Co. on Saturday.

"They intimidate," the N.C. State coach said of NorthCarolina's front four. "They're big, strong and fast. They comeoff the football 100 miles an hour."

North Carolina's defense pulled off the unthinkable lastweekend, holding No. 18 Florida State to nine points and 224 yardsby dominating the line of scrimmage.

The 41-9 victory by the Tar Heels (1-3) wasn't so outrageous toAmato, who was once a top assistant with the Seminoles.

"If you can play defense, you've got a chance to win anyfootball game you're in," Amato said. "I've told people all alongthey've got a great defensive football team. They've got the mostdominant player in college football playing one defensive end."

The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Peppers already has 10 tackles for lossin four games. Last season, he led the nation with 15 sacks. He isjoined up front by Joey Evans, Ryan Sims and Will Chapman.

"Their front four is as good as any front four I've everseen," Amato said. "This game is going to be won up front. Theirstrength defensively is their front seven and our weakness onoffense is our offensive line. That's quite a matchup there.

"Philip (Rivers) might be taking some Advil before the game aswell as after it."

Rivers is the Wolfpack's trump card, a 6-5 quarterback who has aquick release and great vision. He's only been sacked twice in twogames.

"Rivers has a very good release. It's uncanny," North Carolinacoach John Bunting said. "It reminds me a little bit of (Jeff)Garcia, a little bit of (Dan) Marino - very, very quick.

"He sees blitzers. He sees receivers. He knows where to go withthe ball and where to get it right now. Not only does he have thisuncanny quick release, but he has the anticipation. He obviouslymakes that offense go."

A game that a week ago appeared to be somewhat of a sleeper isnow very interesting. The Tar Heels believe wins over the Seminolesand Wolfpack could turn their season around.

North Carolina also has a score to settle with N.C. State.

The Wolfpack ran up close to 400 yards on the Tar Heels lastseason in Chapel Hill, then danced on their logo at midfield afterposting a 38-20 victory.

Bunting, who replaced Carl Torbush as head coach in December,hasn't watched tape of last year's Wolfpack game and doesn't planto.

"I've heard there was some stomping on the "NC" out here.I'll get to that later," said Bunting, hinting he might use theincident to help motivate his team.

"I don't think much about last year," Bunting added. "I thinka lot about this year and the years to come. I didn't watch theFlorida State tape from last year either. Why should I?"

North Carolina linebacker Quincy Monk hasn't thought much aboutlast year's celebration by the Wolfpack in Kenan Stadium. The N.C.State win broke a seven-game losing streak to its arch-rival.

"It was disrespectful, but we just have to take care of ourbusiness," Monk said.

There is often an emotional dropoff in college after big wins.The Wolfpack suffered one after beating the Seminoles in 1998,losing a week later at Baylor.

But Monk guaranteed the Tar Heels would remain focused aftertheir upset of Florida State.

"We're going to increase the pressure because we know whatother teams are going to expect from us now," Monk said.

Saturday's game has another interesting twist - both coaches areat their alma maters.

"It's ironic," Bunting said. "He was a linebacker, I was alinebacker. We're both defensive coaches by trade. I know he has alot of enthusiasm for the game and for his alma mater. And I lovefootball and football players, and I love team play. and I reallylove this university. It just adds a little to the big picture."