Senior defensive lineman Brian Slay has been through a lot since he's been at NC State, and the latest was the heartbreaking loss at archrival UNC last Saturday.
"It's kind of going to stay with you a little bit, but you got to move on," Slay stated. "There's still games to be played. You can't really let last week carry over to this week and not be prepared and not be ready and catch another loss."
Slay, who at some point during his career has probably played every position on the NC State defensive line, is taking to heart one of the painful lessons from the UNC defeat, as well as State's other two losses.
The Pack trailed Tennessee 22-7 at the end of the first quarter in the season-opener in Atlanta Aug. 31. State was down 23-7 after the opening frame at Miami Sept. 29, and entering the second quarter at UNC last Saturday the Heels were up 25-7.
During his Monday press conference, NC State head coach Tom O'Brien pinpointed the defensive line as a unit that must be more consistent to avoid getting off to slow starts.
Slay does not disagree.
"You look at our three losses, we've given up a lot of first quarter points," Slay noted. "That's been a key to the offense having to pick the defense up rather than the defense going out there and doing well and offense just putting points on the board rather than coming back."
But knowing the problem is the easy part. Identifying why it's happening is harder. Slay said he only "wish he knew" why the defense has struggled early in the losses, but he's hopeful an emphasis on practice this week could make a difference.
"We have started practices early and fast so we can get going, and I think that could carry over to Saturday with the start," Slay stated.
The game against Virginia Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh has some personal sentiments for Slay. He graduated from Stone Bridge High in Ashburn, Va.
Slay noted that he used to play basketball with Wahoos starting center junior Luke Bowanko, and he also knows of redshirt freshman tight end Rob Burns, who is from the same school Slay attended.
Despite his personal ties to Virginia, he is more motivated to get the taste of the UNC loss out of his system.
"You got a little anger and aggression you got to let out," Slay said.