Payton Wilson Ready For Some 'Meat and Potatoes Football'

Brett Friedlander

The NC State football team is still a few days away from getting on a plane and hitting the road for the second straight week.

But Payton Wilson already knows what's on the menu for Saturday night when the Wolfpack lines up against Pittsburgh.

"It's kind of like meat and potatoes," the sophomore linebacker said Wednedsay during a virtual session with the media. "Line up and run the ball, let's see who can hit."

After playing two straight games against uptempo offenses to start the new season, State will see a more traditional, smashmouth style of game against the 24th ranked Panthers of coach Pat Narduzzi.

It promises to be a physical matchup that fits right into the wheelhouse of a hard-hitting player such as Wilson. 

There won't be as much reading and reacting as there has been against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. Rather, the outcome will likely be determined by which team wins the most one-one-one battles, especially those that take place in the trenches.

"It's just kind of like big on big," said Wilson, who led the Wolfpack with 69 tackles last season despite starting only one game. "They're going to put a lot of o-linemen, we're going to stack the box and see what the deal is. They're going to try to run it. Everyone knows Pitt is a tough team. We've got a lot of tough guys on our side of the balls. I'm really excited about it.'

Wilson is especially excited about getting back on the field after missing last week's loss in Blacksburg.

Although the reason for his absence has not been announced -- State doesn't release that kind of information -- coach Dave Doeren said after Wilson was removed from the previous week's win against Wake that his star linebacker was suffering from a dehydration related issue.

He had 10 tackles in that game.

Without him, the Wolfpack struggled from start to finish against the Hokies, surrendering 495 yards in a 45-24 loss.

"I didn't even travel, just because I wasn't playing, so it was tough for me to watch because I knew I could be making plays. It sucks watching my brothers out there playing without me.

"I've been playing football all my life. It's what I love to do. I think I could have helped a lot."

Even tougher than watching his teammates play was watching helplessly from home on television while one of his fellow players, Khalid Martin, was taken from the field in an ambulance.

"Outside of football, me and Kahlid have a really good relationship," Wilson said. "I look at him as a brother. Anything he needs, I'm there for him. Anything I need he's there for me. 

"Not knowing because I was so far away was tough. I just sent up a prayer for him. It was in God's hands at that point. I was upset for him and I'm hoping he makes a full recovery."

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