"Everything is condensed," coach Tom O'Brien said. "Everything is (addressed) faster."
It sounds a bit like a rush job for the Wolfpack, but it should have had time to address some areas prior to this week. Last year's game at Central Florida preceded the Cincinnati game on N.C. State's schedule and that was a much tougher assignment than Football Championship Subdivision opponent South Alabama, which lost to the Wolfpack on Saturday night.
But the growing list of injured defenders is of utmost concern. The Wolfpack was further hindered when back-up defensive end Art Norman was limited to about 10 plays in the last game.
So the Wolfpack expects challenges to be heightened from a physical standpoint because of what could be a makeshift defensive unit. "It's kind of difficult to play defense around here," O'Brien said.
-- This is a homecoming game of sorts for some of the Wolfpack, including coach Tom O'Brien, offensive coordinator Dana Bible and tight ends coach Don Horton. They're all from Cincinnati. But DE Jeff Rieskamp, who's from Cincinnati, has been out with an injury the past couple of weeks and might not be available for the game. "I know it's killing him," O'Brien said of Rieskamp's situation.
-- N.C. State's injury toll has been rising and expect coach Tom O'Brien to keep the status of players even more tight-lipped with a short turnaround and a non-conference opponent. O'Brien has pointed out that the ACC's policy on the revealing of an injury list refers to conference games, leaving open the possibility that he'll keep injury matter completely private leading to the game Thursday night at Cincinnati.
SERIES HISTORY: N.C. State leads Cincinnati 1-0 (last meeting, 2010, 30-19 N.C. State).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Wolfpack has relied mostly on gaining yards through the air and QB Mike Glennon appears capable of carrying that load. He combined with backup QB Tyler Brosius to complete 19 of 22 pass attempts against South Alabama. The rushing game has been solid at times, but with RB James Washington and RB Curtis Underwood sharing the carries from the tailback position some of their good deeds don't appear extra special by the end of the game.
Washington and Underwood combined for 104 yards against South Alabama and RB Tony Creecy, a third-stringer, added another 15 yards.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The defense has been trying to gain its footing and the defensive backs seem to be the most scrutinized group. While members of the secondary might have made strides in the third game of the season, the group up front has continued to be plagued by injuries. The Wolfpack is waiting for more production from its linebackers and they might have to find a replacement for LB Terrell Manning, who went out of the South Alabama game with an injury.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "On defense, we've had too many guys going out hurt. We're back to the same situation we had three years ago." -- N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien on the team's growing injury list, which he claims since the start of August includes seven of the top 15 defenders.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: N.C. State at Cincinnati, Sept. 22 - This is a rematch of last year's non-league encounter, which was also played on a Thursday night. N.C. State has been a regular participant on Thursday nights in recent seasons, and this is the only non-Saturday game on this year's schedule.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Wolfpack needs continued production from QB Mike Glennon, who has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes across the last three halves of play. If N.C. State's defense is so wounded from a physical standpoint that the Wolfpack has trouble stopping Cincinnati, it reasons that the N.C. State offense will need to be clicking throughout the game.
The defenses from these two teams have been good at securing turnovers, with N.C. State ranking third nationally with seven interceptions and Cincinnati next with six pick-offs in three games. This marks the fourth time since 1980 that N.C. State has played at least one road game as part of a five-day turnaround between games.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
LB Dwayne Maddox -- He's filling in for injured Terrell Manning and he'll have quite a responsibility. But as a senior, he has been around the program and could be up to speed in many areas.
WR Tobias Palmer -- He's a receiver who has made big plays, but his ability to provide some toughness at that position is a bonus. He's also serving in valuable roles on special teams.
S Brandon Bishop -- He has snatched interceptions in consecutive games and he's also one of the anchors in the secondary. When the call went out for more leaders to emerge on defense, this is one of the guys who appears willing to answer.
-- P Wil Baumann received kudos from the coaches for making significant improvements since the start of the season. He's a true freshman and proving that he might be a weapon for the Wolfpack.
-- TE George Bryan, who's lining up to be one of the most productive pass-catching tight ends in school history, can't be accused of padding his statistics against the so-called little guys on the schedule. In two games against Football Championship Subdivision opponents this year, Bryan has a total of one reception for 10 yards.
-- DE Darryl Cato-Bishop moved into the starting lineup because of injuries and he's making he most of his new chance. He notched two sacks against South Alabama.