"I think [the offensive line has] gotten better," said Tom O'Brien. "We lost our left tackle, so we had to regroup again after the Tennessee game. The kid we were playing, Tyson Chandler, hadn't played before. I think he started to get better. I think that helped it.
"No disrespect to the Citadel, but we were playing a IAA school. Sometimes those help. I'm certainly not being disrespectful to them by saying that."
A big positive for State in the victory was the emergence of true freshman tailback Shadrach Thornton. Making his first college start, Thornton rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns while adding another four catches for 26 yards.
"I thought he played well, particularly with the ball in his hands," NC State running backs coach Des Kitchings said of Thornton. "Just like with any freshman running back the challenge for him is to continue to progress in pass protection.
"The Citadel game wasn't a game where there were a lot of blitzes to challenge him, but going forward in the ACC that's going to happen. He has to be ready for it."
"It was kind of a necessity that we had to play him, but he certainly was ready to play and did a great job on Saturday night," said O'Brien. "He really didn't miss anything, he was headed in the right direction, ran the right routes and did what he was supposed to do, which is good. With most kids, you hope that after his first experience that he'll be better this week and more prepared to do things. This defense will pressure us a lot more than we saw on Saturday.
"He's a tough kid from the first day of camp, we've always done pass protections with running backs against linebackers. He wasn't afraid. He's not afraid to go block somebody, we just have to make sure he goes to the right guy, because he's going to have to pick up somebody in pass protection this week."
"I've always said about injuries, one man's misfortune is another man's opportunity," O'Brien added. "He made the most of his opportunity. Going forward, he's going to be able to play."
The Wolfpack's injury report was released earlier today and senior tailback James Washington will miss the Miami game with an ankle injury. Sophomore Tony Creecy, who is listed as the starter on the depth chart, wasn't on the report and neither was sophomore Mustafa Greene. However, that doesn't mean Greene, who has missed the previous two games for undisclosed reasons, will play.
"No update on Moose," said O'Brien following today's practice.
It appears likely that the Wolfpack will head down to Miami looking to knock off the Canes with Creecy, Thornton, and senior Brandon Barnes ready to carry the ball.
State came into the season without a defined rotation and through four games it still hasn't been cleared up with the three top backs missing at least one game. That has to be a concern for Kitchings.
"We would like to settle on a rotation here going forward," said Kitchings. "We want to get into a real good rhythm and just let those guys play because we do have the meat of the schedule coming up. We know that we have to be productive and the guy on the field has to be productive."
The good news for the Wolfpack is Miami has had issues stopping the run this season. The Hurricanes are allowing 226 yards rushing per game, which ranks No. 109 nationally, and overall the defense is 98th in the country in total defense, yielding 453 yards per game.
But, Kitchings knows that Miami has the personnel in place to give State problems.
"They are an athletic group," he said. "They always have been and always will be. They are a fast and athletic group. Defensively they will pressure you. From a protection standpoint, that will definitely be a challenge for us... we have to help protect the quarterback.
"It comes down to being physical. We have to be a physical group at running back. We want to be the enforcers."