TSX: Redemption Time

North Carolina State's time in the Top 25 didn't last very long, as the No. 23-ranked Wolfpack blew an early 17-0 lead and were overwhelmed late by Virginia Tech 41-30.

Ultimately, a Wolfpack team that started the season 4-0 by avoiding mistakes fell into the trap that Virginia Tech has used so well under Frank Beamer for years -- try to do to much against the Hokies, or lose focus for a moment, and Tech can make its opponents pay.

That happened to State in all three phases of the game after intermission, which led to 34 second-half points for the Hokies. It started when Tech returned the second-half kickoff for a touchdown, and continued as missed tackles led to big play after big play for the Hokies offense.

When State had the ball, Russell Wilson put up big numbers, throwing for 362 yards and three touchdowns. Virginia Tech played most of the game in man coverage and blitzed often, challenging him to take risks in order to convert big plays against the secondary.

That worked at times, but Wilson also threw three interceptions, all to Jayron Hosley. He attacked the Tech defense downfield, which produced yards early and pass interference penalties late, but the turnovers and incompletions also left a lot of points on the field, which proved costly.

Next up is Boston College, coach Tom O'Brien's former school that has struggled early in the season. State has shown a lot in the season's first five weeks, but now it will have to prove it can rebound from a tough loss in a game it felt it should have won.

NOTES, QUOTES
-- LB Nate Irving continues to look like the player he was before getting injured before last season. He made 13 tackles against Virginia Tech, a week after having 16 against Georgia Tech.

-- The attendance figures for the Virginia Tech game were the most for North Carolina State in nearly a quarter-century, thanks to the addition of temporary bleachers that held nearly 500 fans. Officially, 58,083 showed up for the game against the Hokies, the third-most fans in school history. A pair of East Carolina games, in 1985 (58,650) and 1986 (58,300) are the top two totals, though the sports information department notes that "some long-time Wolfpack faithful dispute those numbers."

GAME BALL GOES TO: WR Owen Spencer -- Spencer didn't score, but he stretched the Virginia Tech defense to the tune of six catches for 145 yards. The senior is doing his part to help his class end their Wolfpack careers on a high note.

KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Mustafa Greene -- Of the two freshman running backs in the rotation (redshirt frosh Dean Haynes is the other), it's Greene who has emerged as the one with big-play capability. He had 10 carries for 91 yards against Virginia Tech, including one 49-yarder, and also caught three passes for 30 yards.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They came in here playing man [coverage], and we lick our chops when teams play man. I mean, they're a good secondary, probably one of the best in the country and pretty surely the best in the ACC. We're the best receiving corps in the ACC and one of the best in the country, so we have to go after them." -- North Carolina State WR Owen Spencer, to the Raleigh News & Observer, on the team's game plan against Virginia Tech.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD:
The Wolfpack got off to a ferocious start, jumping out to a 17-0 lead before the folks in Raleigh. State moved the ball for most of the game, recording 299 total yards by intermission. The defense had eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage, with Nate Irving and Audie Cole having three apiece.

STILL NEEDS WORK: State's defense gave up 34 second-half points, including two touchdowns in the final two minutes that put the game away for good. Tackling was a constant problem in the second half. Russell Wilson threw three interceptions and constantly took the risky pass over the safer one with dire consequences. The Wolfpack were flagged for nine penalties, and Russell Wilson was sacked four times.

ROSTER REPORT:
--Andy Leffler looks like he's the punter for the foreseeable future. After struggling in his debut a week ago, the walk-on averaged 43 yards a punt against the Hokies, and downed two inside the 20-yard line.

--CB David Amerson moved into the starting lineup in the boundary cornerback slot, replacing Justin Byers.


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