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X-Factor: Derrick Tangelo will need to bring the heat to keep N.C. State's passing attack at bay

The Blue Devils will need to excel in the trenches defensively in order to leave Raleigh with a victory on Saturday.
The Blue Devils will need to excel in the trenches defensively in order to leave Raleigh with a victory on Saturday.

After a thrilling first win in Syracuse, N.Y. this past weekend, the Blue Devils return to their home state with newfound confidence. They will hit the road once again for a date with the red-hot N.C. State Wolfpack, who after a pair of impressive upset wins find themselves on the verge of cracking the AP Top 25. As these two squads prepare for battle this weekend, the Blue Zone brings you an early look at one player from each side that could turn the tide.

Duke: Defensive Tackle Derrick Tangelo

Running backs Deon Jackson and Mataeo Durant may have garnered the spotlight after last week’s feel-good win, but Derrick Tangelo also broke out in a big way against the Orange. After a quiet start to the season for the senior defensive tackle, Tangelo announced his presence with team highs in tackles (six) and TFL (three) while also adding his first sack of the season. With Chris Rumph II and Victor Dimukeje on the edges, the pass rush is already an undeniable strength for the Blue Devils, but the prospect of an interior lineman like Tangelo making the leap into stardom could make life miserable for opposing passers.

Two weeks ago, N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren made the decision to reinsert Devin Leary – last year’s starter – at quarterback, and the decision has paid dividends thus far. However, it is worth noting that Leary has faced minimal pressure in his return to action: the Wolfpack offensive line has surrendered just two sacks in two weeks, both to an elite Pitt line that leads all Power Five teams in sacks per game. If Tangelo is able to sustain this level of play and the pass rush can get to Leary, this game could be a lot more interesting than the standings would suggest. 

N.C. State: Tight End Cary Angeline

At 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds, Cary Angeline is quickly establishing himself as the class of the conference at the tight end position. After standing out in a lackluster offense last fall and earning himself an Honorable Mention All-ACC nod, the USC transfer is already blowing away his former accomplishments in a number of categories. Most notably, Angeline has transformed into a scoring machine: he leads the ACC in touchdown receptions while finding paydirt on nearly half of his receptions. Two of those scores came in the Wolfpack’s statement win over Pitt, and the most recent came on a thrilling trick play against Virginia on Saturday. Clearly one of Leary’s premier targets, Angeline does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Duke has struggled mightily to contain tight ends this season, with Luke Benson’s 53-yard score on Saturday the most recent example. Top tier tight ends like Boston College’s Hunter Long and Notre Dame’s Tommy Tremble have made Duke look silly on defense, and Angeline certainly possesses the tools to do the same. The emerging star will provide a unique challenge for a Duke defense that will already have its hands full with a surprisingly good receiving corps. If Angeline gets involved and finds his way into the end zone, then everything will be going according to plan for the surging Wolfpack.

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