It had been a while since something positive about the defensive front was the most prominent part of the discussion rather than the list of injuries.
The Wolfpack is turning to some younger players up front and that might also pay off in the future.
Still, there's an uphill climb facing the Wolfpack, which must reach the seven-win mark in order to become eligible for a bowl. N.C. State heads to a game at Florida State in its next assignment and that might offer a true barometer about the direction of the season.
-- N.C. State has not played Virginia on an annual basis since ACC expansion, but its drought in Charlottesville, Va., had been notable nonetheless. The Wolfpack's 28-14 victory Saturday snapped a five-game losing streak in road games against Virginia. N.C. State's most-recent victory there had been in 1994.
-- The Wolfpack held Virginia to 12 first downs in perhaps its best defensive display of the season. Virginia's 14 points in the game marked the fewest for an N.C. State opponent in the Football Bowl Subdivision this year, with all the other opponents at that level scoring at least 24 points.
KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Bryan Underwood -- He burst on to the scene with a three-catch, 125-yard performance at Virginia. He was rewarded as two of those plays went for touchdowns. His 79-yard scoring catch is the longest touchdown catch by a freshman in school history.
LOOKING GOOD: CB David Amerson added two more interceptions to his total. That pushes his national-leading total to eight pick-offs this season and it was part of a defense that held Virginia to 125 passing yards.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The Wolfpack has used newcomers in various special teams roles and that might have played a part in having a field goal blocked during the first quarter at Virginia. It was the only field-goal attempt of the game for N.C.State.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Each game, things continue to get easier for me. Each game, I try to take something from it and build on it." -- QB Mike Glennon, whose team has won consecutive games for the first time this year.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
-- CB Rashard Smith was in the starting lineup for the first time in more than two years when he got the nod against Virginia. He's a redshirt sophomore who missed last season with a knee injury. His return adds to depth in the secondary. He filled in as a return specialist in the first half of the game.
-- LB Terrell Manning is proving to be a key member of the defense as he led the Wolfpack with nine tackles at Virginia. His absence earlier in the season left a hole in the defense and his mobility is an asset that's much-needed on the unit.
-- RB Tony Creecy is picking up some of the slack in an injury-riddled offensive backfield. His contributions against Virginia included a 5-yard touchdown reception for the first scoring play of the redshirt freshman's career.
-- WR T.J. Graham didn't play in the first half at Virginia because of a team disciplinary action for "not living up to the expectations" of a player in the program. He was limited to two catches totaling 8 yards in the second half, though he had two kickoff returns for a combined 37 yards.
-- QB Mike Glennon threw three touchdown passes at Virginia in a game played in his home state. His season total stands at 19 touchdown passes, tying him for sixth place with Jamie Barnette (1997) for single-season touchdown throws.
-- WR Tobias Palmer missed the game against Virginia after an unusual incident. He sustained a concussion during pregame warmups.