It wasn't the start NC State starting left tackle Rob Crisp wanted, but he was just happy to be back on the field against Maryland last Saturday. The junior, who missed the last five games with an injury, was knocked down by the defender he was blocking on the Wolfpack's first offensive play of the day, but he quickly knocked the rust off after that initial wake-up call.
"Just coming back from the injury, it felt great to be out there with my guys again," he said. "It was like the first game all over. The first play, I was a little bit nervous, I even got put on my butt. After the first play, I had to realize, I'm out here with the big boys, so I shook it off and went on, played the game."
NC State pulled out the win, thanks to another game-winning drive in the game's closing moments from quarterback Mike Glennon. It marked the second-straight from the signal caller in the game's final two minutes and 30 seconds.
"It was Mike," Crisp said. "It was great, Mike stayed calm, the offensive line stayed calm. Maryland was rocking, so congrats to their fans, but the biggest thing was we just stayed calm. Our kicker made one great kick, and he helped us win the game."
Crisp and his teammates up front limited Maryland, who entered the game ranked 14th nationally in sacks, to just two quarterback takedowns, despite starting their fifth different lineup in seven games.
Center Camden Wentz is the only player who has started every game at one position, and everybody who has played significant time on the first-team line, except for redshirt freshman center Joe Thuney, has logged game time at multiple positions during their college career.
"It just shows how versatile our offensive line is," Crisp noted. "R.J. Mattes, for one, can play every position on the line except center. It shows how versatile we are as a whole and how much we pay attention to details.
"I trust the guy to my right as much as the guy who plays on the other side of the offensive line. I trust them all the same. We're a brotherhood here, so we have to trust each other and have faith in one another."
However, State doesn't have much time to revel in their victory; a North Carolina team that is coming off of a loss to Duke and has no postseason to play for awaits the Pack on Saturday. NC State has won five in a row against the rival Tar Heels and the importance of the game is not lost on Crisp, who attended Chapel Hill High School before finishing his career at Athens Drive in Raleigh.
"It's big," he said of the upcoming game. "That's one thing I've heard about since I was knee-high, but it's just one game. It's the next game on our schedule and that's how we're going to approach it.
"Everybody makes a big deal about it, but it's just the next game. We're about winning each game."
Crisp was a five-star recruit coming out of the prep ranks, and was Rivals.com's No. 13 overall player in the country. North Carolina was among the countless schools that pursued him, but he had an idea of where he would end up the entire time.
"I gave [UNC] a chance," he remembered. "I always knew where I was going. I'm happy that I made a choice to come to NC State and I wouldn't change it for the world. I gave them a chance, but this is where I always wanted to be.
"I was always a State fan. My guardians who adopted me had season tickets to all of the State games, so I've been coming here since I was 12 years old."
Since the loss to Tennessee, the Pack has controlled the time of possession in every game until the Maryland contest. Crisp knows that will be a crucial battle this weekend, so he and his teammates up front are focused on changing what happened last Saturday. They are definitely aware of the fact that Duke ran for 234 yards in their 33-30 win over UNC.
"I believe it is [key], but that's a concern every game," he said. "The more the offense is on the field, the more we can control the ball, which puts more time on the clock and gives us more opportunities to score points, which is the objective of the game. The more the offense stays on the field, the better it is for us, no matter what game it is.
"[Duke's win] just shows that if we can run the ball, we might have the same outcome that Duke did."