New starting quarterback Jay Davis looked sharp in a 16-of-22, 168 yard, and two-touchdown debut for the Wolfpack. The junior showed an ability to make fast reads and quick throws, tossing darts to receivers slanting across all sides of the field.
"I thought I handled [the game] well, but there's certainly some things I can improve on," Davis said. "I made some mistakes, especially in the redzone, that I personally can't do anymore. If I can improve on the mistakes I made I'll be alright."
Coach Chuck Amato was visibly pleased with Davis' performance.
"I thought Jay [Davis] did an outstanding job in handling the team, his composure with the team, and the confidence that he had," said Amato. "You can almost tell that he's been tutored by that youngster that left us, and he's learned an awful lot over the last three years."
Amato himself had control of the team, sporting a sparkling pair of red Adidas basketball shoes to complement his khakis.
Junior tailback T.A. McLendon nursed a sore hamstring and sat out the game, giving way to freshmen Darrell Blackman and Bobby Washington, who split carries while combining for 114 yards on 22 attempts. Blackman broke through the line for a 2-yard touchdown to start the scoring for State and record the first of his career.
"That's great," Blackman said. "My first college touchdown. I feel I accomplished something on the field and I made my self proud... and I made the team proud. We just performed for the fans."
Reggie Davis would get into the act in the second half, rushing for 25 yards on five carries, and also scoring a short-yardage touchdown.
Throughout the evening, the Wolfpack was clearly too strong for Richmond, a I-AA opponent who won just two games last year. The 'Pack's advantage was most notable on defense, as NC State held the Spiders to only four first downs and 80 total yards in the first half.
Richmond quarterback Stacy Tutt was on the run the entire evening, as Mario Williams and Manny Lawson repeatedly broke through the line, Lawson once forcing and recovering a fumble from Tutt. The tight pressure up front created opportunities for the secondary, who recorded three interceptions on the night.
Marcus Hudson, starting in place of the injured Andre Maddox at safety, looked quite comfortable after switching over from corner, flying across the field and making big plays all night. Not only did he recover a blocked punt for a score, but Hudson capped his succesful return from a year off with an interception in the 3rd quarter.
I've been taught to read the quarterback's eyes, and I have four older brothers who played on the defensive side of the ball," Hudson said regarding his terrific ball skills. "A lot of that stuff I got from them too."
In addition to the defense, new special teams coach Manny Diaz's unit showed that the Pack's trademark kick-blocking ways would not disappear this year. The Pack opportunistically pressured the punter, with safety Troy Graham breaking through in the second quarter to block a punt that was recovered for a touchdown by Hudson.
Red-shirt freshman Marcus Stone started the second half, and also looked good, going 8-10 for 61 yards.
Starring on the receiving end for the Wolfpack were Tramain Hall and Lamart Barrett. Hall got the crowd going when at the 17-yard line he led two defenders toward the sideline, setting up two key blocks by his teammates, and suddenly turning the corner and exploding up the field into the end zone. Hall totaled six catches for 60 yards on the night.
Barrett made his bid to be this year's Jerricho Cotchery, finding seams throughout the night and grabbing everything thrown his way. Barrett finished with six catches for 59 yards.
The Pack now readies for Ohio State on September 18th. Amato conceded that the Pack still had too many penalties and plenty of room for improvement.
"We have to tackle better, and we have to stop the run better straight at us," he said. "If we don't, that game in fourteen days will be a long day."
However, with with Davis' strong performance, the offense appears to be in good hands.
"I expect [Ohio State] to come and get us, and we're going to do the same to them," Davis said. "It will be a fun game either way."