However, minutes into the matchup he broke free for a 49-yarder that not only jumpstarted State's first major drive but also gave him some much-needed confidence.
"That [catch] was big," said Payton. "It wasn't so much [my] nerves but playing a different role. In the lights, first game on TV... it was good to get that first catch out of the way."
Payton finished the game with four catches for a game-high 129 yards, and at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds he proved that he can stretch the field vertically and be a big target for Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon.
"I knew all cap that Quintin was ready to have that kind of performance," said Glennon. "He looked great all camp."
Pleased with his own performance, Payton knows that he and the offense can still be better.
"I made some plays, and I don't feel like we played bad," he said. "I feel like we made some careless mistakes. Turnovers kind of hurt us, but as an offense we did some good things and we did some bad things."
Next up for Payton and NC State is a road matchup against UCONN. The Huskies blanked UMass to start the season, and defensively they were dominant, holding the Minutemen to just 59 yards of offense and limiting them to three first downs. UMass did not have an offensive snap in UConn territory.
"We just have to be better than last week," said Payton. "We need to fix the mistakes we made and come out with the 'W.'
"We can win. We have to play our game... no turnovers and no big plays on defense."