NC State held their second scrimmage of the preseason Friday night, closed to the public and media, but from the sounds of it, the highlight was the defense.
"Defense is playing at a real high level right now," head coach Tom O'Brien admitted. "They're ahead of the offense pretty good right now. There are some things we can do to help ourselves offensively that we have to take care of.
"When you look out there, there's a lot of guys that have played a lot of football out there [on defense]. They're playing fast right now. They're recognizing things, they see it, they're anticipating. They're playing well."
The offense completed 25 of 43 passes but for only 119 yards and there was an interception that was returned for a touchdown. The defense had eight sacks for losses of 45 yards and 14 overall tackles for losses. The Pack running backs ran 42 times for 124 yards, but when sacks are included the final rushing stats are 50 carries for 79 yards.
O'Brien said that the eight sacks was probably a combination of both the defense and offensive line protection issues, but he admits that the 4.8 yards per catch average was not good.
"I would say right now we're ahead of where I think right now we've been on defense," O'Brien said. "We're certainly ahead of where we've been. Offensively, I don't know if we are where we've been or if we got to catch up a little more. Certainly there are some things that we got to get out of this. The receiving corps has to help us a little more. I think maybe they took a step back tonight."
Despite the modest passing numbers, O'Brien praised his starting quarterback, redshirt junior Mike Glennon.
"He's still got good leadership," O'Brien noted. "He's throwing the ball. He's throwing it on time. He's throwing it where it's supposed to be. He's doing what he needs to do."
The freshmen trio of kicker Niklas Sade, punter Wil Baumann and long snapper Scott Thompson also apparently did well. Baumann punted 10 times for an average of 40.4 yards, and Sade made 4 of 5 fields, connecting from distances of 23, 41, 42 and 43 yards but coming up short from 53 yards.
"Those kids kicked the ball well, we caught the ball, the snaps were excellent," O'Brien said. "I'm very happy with what we're getting out of the snapper. We put the punter under a lot of pressure out there, as best we can, and he punt the ball well. He shanked one tonight but got a little bit of a roll on it. That helps, but that happens so we can learn from it and move on.
"If I had the chance in a game situation I might not have kicked a 53-yarder. It's good to throw him out there at this point to let him try it. It was on target but a little short right now. He's a little dead-legged because he's been kicking a lot. Hopefully we'll find his range as we go on."
The Pack has Saturday off on the field, but will participate in media day and Meet the Pack day off it. It's back to the practice fields Sunday in preparation for a scheduled scrimmage Tuesday evening.