Quick hits and notes from NC State's 28-21 win at Central Florida Saturday night in Orlando, Fla.
Turnovers, lots of them
NC State has not been a team in recent history to force a lot of turnovers, but they tend to come in bunches, and the Pack forced five of them against Central Florida. Redshirt sophomore defensive backs C.J. Wilson and Earl Wolff both recorded their first career picks Saturday, with Wilson returning his 43 yards for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. Wolff's 43-yard return set up a second quarter touchdown.
Wilson's pick six was the first defensive touchdown for the Pack since fifth-year senior Nate Irving returned an interception for a score against Clemson in 2008.
Redshirt junior linebacker Audie Cole also had an interception. Cole also recorded 12 tackles, including nine solo hits, a career-high 3.5 for losses and a sack in what can be best termed as a breakout effort. Sophomore safety Brandan Bishop forced a fumble with a helmet on ball hit on UCF sophomore receiver Quincy McDuffie at the NC State 11 with 52 seconds left to secure the win. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Terrell Manning recovered that loose ball, while senior long snapper Corey Tedder picked up a special teams fumble.
The five turnovers were the most NC State has forced in a game since they had UNC give it up six times two years ago.
Defense overshadows offense
After the game, Cole noted that the offense had bailed out the defense too many times, so the defense owed the offense. The Pack's offense just never got on track Saturday aside from a few drives. NC State ran seven more plays than UCF, 70-63, but the Knight outgained State 308-239. The Pack was also forced to punt 10 times. The last time State punted that many times was 10 against Texas in 1999.
Win is a big one
The last time NC State won an out of conference road game was Oct. 20, 2007 at East Carolina, and the last road victory of any sorts was Nov. 22, 2008 at North Carolina. The game was almost the reverse of what happened the first two times these teams played in the 2007 season opener.
Central Florida led 25-3, and an NC State quarterback change from Daniel Evans to Harrison Beck sparked a second half rally for the Pack that eventually fell short at 25-23. This time State led 21-7 at the break and 28-7 going into the fourth quarter before freshman quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey sparked UCF off the bench. Godfrey's athleticism and fresh legs completed 7 of 10 passes for 107 yards and ran 10 times for a team-high 53 yards and two fourth quarter touchdowns. Central Florida had 142 yards in the fourth quarter against a gassed Wolfpack defense.
The Pack may have struggled some in the muggy conditions. Gametime temps were 87 degrees with a heat index reaching 97.
The win marked the first time NC State has started 2-0 since they began the 2002 season 8-0.
One step forward, one step back for special teams
After a stellar showing against Western Carolina, NC State knew they were going to be tested by Central Florida's strong special teams. The Pack was not up for the task. McDuffie returned a kickoff 93 yards, and fifth-year senior Jeff Ruiz's 15-yard shank gave UCF excellent field position to start their final drive at the NC State 49. Ruiz averaged just 33.7 yards per kick.
One positive was that fifth-year senior Josh Czajkowski recorded his first two career touchbacks on kickoffs.
The kids can run
Offensive MVP probably goes to the rookie duo of Dean Haynes and Mustafa Greene at running back. Greene ran 14 times for 55 yards and a 21-yard touchdown while Haynes ran 10 times for 49 yards and a score. Combined that's 24 carries for 104 yards.
Spotted in the press box
New NC State athletics director Debbie Yow was in the press box for much of the pregame intently watching the afternoon slate of football games. Also at the game was a scout from the Detroit Lions. One side note about the new stadium for UCF, the press box shakes quite easily when the Knights' fans get excited.