"We got off to a good start offensively, but I don't know what we were doing defensively," coach Tom O'Brien said after a perplexing first half turned into a 38-24 victory over Central Michigan. "We figured it out in the second half."
But time isn't always on N.C. State's side as it learned by falling into deep holes in three previous losses.
If nothing else, it should be clear to the Wolfpack that it can't afford to let things unfold too long before it starts to click. That hasn't worked well this season.
The problem for the defense is that it tends to need time to adjust in each game. By then, the Wolfpack has been in some serious trouble and rebounding from an 0-2 record in the ACC will be a tough assignment when it resumes play after an open week with a game at Virginia.
-- N.C. State has intercepted 12 passes this year, a marked improvement in that category from a year ago. In 2010, the Wolfpack's defense managed nine interceptions for the entire season. "The interceptions started coming (against Central Michigan) and one turned into four," coach Tom O'Brien said.
-- N.C. State altered its uniforms in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Against Central Michigan, the Wolfpack wore black jerseys for the first time in school history. Those uniforms had pink lettering. N.C. State players also wore red helmets for the first time since 1999.
KEEP AN EYE ON: CB David Amerson -- He'll remain among the leaders in the country in interceptions after picking off two passes against Central Michigan. That gives him six interceptions this season and it might eventually signal a change in strategy for offenses that haven't shied away from throwing in his direction.
LOOKING GOOD: S Earl Wolff was involved in probably too many defensive stops in the first half in the defensive backfield. He helped the secondary regroup in the second half after a rough start to Saturday's game against Central Michigan. By the end, he was credited with a team-high 11 tackles.
STILL NEEDS WORK: A Wolfpack defense that seemed to make some strides still has the tendency to be beaten for big plays. One of those came in the form of a 77-yard rushing touchdown surrendered against Central Michigan. The Wolfpack will work on its discipline on defense to establish more consistency and also address playing angles better in the defensive backfield so that some of the big gainers can be reduced.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We were mentally there in the second half and made plays. We felt we gave up too much in the first half." -- CB David Amerson on the Wolfpack's defense, which yielded 254 yards of total offense in the first half and then held Central Michigan to 43 yards in the third quarter of Saturday's non-league victory.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
-- RB James Washington eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the second week in a row. He finished with 109 yards against Central Michigan, again picking up the slack for the absence of injured RB Curtis Underwood. Combined with the game against Georgia Tech a week earlier, Washington became the first N.C. State running back to reach the 100-yard rushing mark in consecutive games since Andre Brown in 2005.
-- QB Mike Glennon has been under considerable scrutiny this season. But by throwing for four touchdowns against Central Michigan, he pushed his season's total to 17 touchdown passes. Only three others -- Philip Rivers, Jamie Barnette and Russell Wilson -- have thrown for that many in a season in school history.
-- WR T.J. Graham has had a limited impact as a receiver the past couple of weeks. He left the game against Central Michigan with an apparent injured right arm in the second quarter, but he returned briefly and finished with 139 all-purpose yards to move into second place all-time for the Wolfpack with 4,505 all-purpose yards. He passed Torry Holt in that category.
-- LB Terrell Manning was back for the Wolfpack after undergoing minor knee surgery Sept. 19. He didn't ease back in because he was credited with nine tackles, including a sack, and an interception against Central Michigan.
-- RB Curtis Underwood missed a game for the second week in a row with a knee injury. He had been the standout out of the backfield at the start of the season.
-- P Wil Baumann was back handling the punting a week after he missed the Georgia Tech game because of a muscle pull sustained in pregame warmups. His three attempts against Central Michigan went for an average of 37.3 yards.