Desperate Measures

The Wolfpack's injury woes on the defensive line have become so devastating that no option seems unreasonable at this point.

That's why Taylor Gentry, a senior fullback, was pulling extra duty against Georgia Tech. He played on the defensive line at times until an ankle injury cut short his outing and he missed the second half.

Gentry isn't void of some maneuvers on defense because he excels in special teams coverages. He has been the team's top tackler on special teams.

"It's tough to judge (how the defense played) because of who we're playing," coach Tom O'Brien said after the 45-35 loss to Georgia Tech. "We got some good effort out of a lot of guys. Hopefully, there are some more guys who can play next week."

The return of J.R. Sweezy, who had been out all season with a foot injury, gave the defense a jolt. Still, he wasn't in his natural position of defensive tackle. "I think we used him right. We put him at end," O'Brien said. "We didn't put him at defensive tackle where he's more likely to get chopped."

The injuries didn't cease among defensive lineman. Darryl Cato-Bishop, who was moved from defensive end to defensive tackle during the week to supply more bulk in the middle, left in the third quarter with a hand injury.

-- After it was stuck with minus-26 rushing yards in the loss to Cincinnati, the rushing game and pass protection were something the Wolfpack aimed to correct. That might have been accomplished as N.C. State gained a season-best 195 yards on the ground in the setback to Georgia Tech. QB Mike Glennon was sacked twice.

-- Georgia Tech was supposed to be the ball-control team, so it was almost startling when N.C. State put together a 19-play drive that covered 81 yards and consumed 9 minutes, 45 seconds. That came in the second quarter, but the Wolfpack turned the ball over on downs. It was the longest drive for N.C. State in terms of plays since Nov. 14, 2000, when then-freshman quarterback Philip Rivers directed a 19-play, 94-yard drive against Maryland. In both cases, the Wolfpack lost the games.

KEEP AN EYE ON: DE Art Norman -- He plays on the much-maligned defensive line, but he has been productive during stretches. He seems to be learning on the fly, but he has provided some stability along the front as the interior of the defense tries to regain some health from an injury perspective.

LOOKING GOOD: The absence of RB Mustafa Greene, who has yet to play this season, was eased a bit when RB James Washington gained a career-high 131 rushing yards on 20 attempts against Georgia Tech. That was also the best rushing total on the team this season and it's the most for an N.C. State running back since Jamelle Eugene's 149 yards in a 2007 game against North Carolina.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The Wolfpack can't seem to manage solid starts to games and it constantly is dealing with deficits. This has put the offense in a tough situation. After the first play of the second quarter against Georgia Tech, the Wolfpack trailed 21-0. The 45-35 final score against Georgia Tech was deceptive because N.C. State scored 14 points in the final 34 seconds.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The fake punt was devastating. We've got them off the field, but then they go down and score. Our inability to not make mistakes really hurt us." -- Coach Tom O'Brien, whose team faced a 21-0 deficit early in the second quarter in the 45-35 loss to Georgia Tech.

-- The Wolfpack had to go to a backup punter against Georgia Tech because of P Wil Baumann's pulled muscle during warmups. P J. Ellis Flint was used, averaging 35.3 yards on three punts.

-- Redshirt freshman RB Tony Creecy had a chance to work with the first-team offense and he showed he has the ability to make some moves by gaining 77 yards on 12 carries. It was his first time out there with the first-team unit.

-- The return of DT J.R. Sweezy, who had been out since the preseason with a broken foot, was a bonus for the Wolfpack. He played at defensive end instead of his normal spot of defensive tackle. The senior captain made the Wolfpack's only sack of the game. "I feel great physically," Sweezy said.

-- FB Tyler Purvis made two touchdown receptions in the second half against Georgia Tech. Those were the first catches of his career. He was in the game because starting FB Taylor Gentry, who also filled in on the defensive line, was out with an ankle injury.

-- S Brandon Bishop scored on a fumble recovery and return in the final minute against Georgia Tech. It was a 33-yard play, marking the second score for the defense on a returned fumble this year.

-- LB Audie Cole has been bolstering his tackles numbers again. He was credited with 13 stops against Georgia Tech and he's on his way to leading the team again in that category.

Pack Pride Top Stories