Quick hits and notes from NC State's 33-6 loss to Virginia in front of 54,812 dejected Wolfpack fans at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh Saturday afternoon.
Um, what was that?
Typically after the game, NC State's sports media relations department will crank out a lengthy list of game notes for reporters in bullet points that take up a full page. Saturday the game notes were just five short bullets that may have taken up a third of the page.
That's what happens when you have a lackluster performance like NC State's Saturday. The Pack was thoroughly dominated at the line of scrimmage, and the stats prove it.
Virginia came into Saturday having piled up just seven sacks on the year. They had six against the Wolfpack. NC State ran for a paltry 19 yards, a new season-low. It's the fourth straight week the Pack has rushed for 67 yards or fewer.
On the other side of the ball, State got to the Virginia quarterback tandem of junior Michael Rocco and sophomore Phillip Sims just once, and the Cavaliers rushed for 248 net yards, shattering their previous season-high of 186 yards at Duke Oct. 6.
The domination at the line allowed Virginia to have a staggering time of possession advantage of 36:42 to 23:18. It's just the third time all year that State has lost the time of possession advantage and the most lopsided margin loss of the season.
Passing game off, too
Virginia had intercepted just one pass all season before Saturday. They had three picks against the Wolfpack. Fifth-year senior quarterback [db]Mike Glennon[/db] was harassed into completing just 23 of 46 passes for 197 yards and one meaningless, late touchdown in the fourth quarter. It's the first time this season State has been held under 200 yards passing in a game.
Glennon's late touchdown pass went to fifth-year senior tight end Mario Carter, a 2-yard catch that was Carter's only catch of the contest and his first TD of the season. He had one prior career touchdown before Saturday.
Not getting to the end zone was redshirt sophomore Bryan Underwood. Who caught four passes for 52 yards but saw his streak of nine consecutive games with a touchdown reception come to an end, one short of matching the ACC record that belonged to former Virginia receiver Herman Moore.
Two themes continue in the losses
To State's credit, they did not give up a lot of big plays on defense. But the other two disturbing trends in their losses came up to bite the Pack again: turnovers and slow starts.
NCSU trailed 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. In State's four losses, they have been outscored 84-21 and trailed by at least 14 points in each of them at the end of the first quarter. State has outscored opponents 35-13 in the opening frame in their five wins, but in their two ACC wins were outscored 6-0. The difference though is they stayed competitive versus digging a big hole like they have in their three ACC losses.
Virginia was not noted for being a strong-starting team. They had not led at halftime since their loss at Duke Oct. 6.
The Pack also had five turnovers compared to just one for Virginia, which had one of the worst turnover margins in the country coming into Saturday. Virginia had a net negative-16 in the turnover margin before playing NC State.
NCSU has committed 19 turnovers in its four losses. They had just four in their five wins.
Perhaps their should be a fourth theme to the losses: safeties. The Pack had a safety against Tennessee in the opener in Atlanta Aug. 31 when Glennon was hit and fumbled into the end zone and the ball was recovered by NCSU redshirt sophomore fullback Logan Winkles.
Then at Miami Sept. 28, a high, mishandled shotgun snap went into the end zone, and Glennon had little choice but to fall on it for a safety.
Saturday, Glennon was under heavy pressure when he dropped back to throw from the NCSU 9. His desperate attempt to throw the ball away and avoid the sack was flagged for intentional grounding, and since it was in the end zone it resulted in State's third safety given up this year.
The three safeties this year matched the total they have had in the last five years combined. The last safety came in 2008.
What the loss means
Virginia wins at NC State for the first time since 1999 and defeated the Pack for the first time since a home victory of NCSU in 2006. NC State still leads the overall series against the Wahoos 34-22-1.