Tom O'Brien's latest second half reclamation project got off to a good start as NC State put together its best effort of the season and won its first league game. This was despite some typically unfortunate news prior to the start of the game; somehow Tobais Palmer suffered a concussion during pre-game warmups that would prevent him from playing, while TJ Graham was held out of the first half because of a violation of team rules.
The Pack's receivers didn't exactly step up to fill the void left by those two guys, and State's early efforts were frustrated by a number of key drops. On one drive alone, State receivers dropped two touchdown passes and another that would have set them up at the Virginia one yard line. Thanks to an unusually reliable running game, that made for the strangest drive of the 2011 season. The eventual result was a blocked field goal, but fortunately that would not prove a decisive moment in this game.
While battling poor field position all afternoon, the man who cut through the crap and gave NC State the decisive plays it needed was David Amerson, whose first interception set the team up for a quick score on a short field. His second pick--off a mishandled pass from UVA quarterback David Watford--gave the team the breathing room it needed to salt the game away in the 4th quarter.
Mike Glennon played a near-perfect first half; his throws were on target in almost every case, but he didn't get any help from the guys at the receiving end. Brian Underwood dropped a sure TD that hit him in the hands; later on a receiver in the end zone had a ball hit him in the stomach and drop to the ground. Should have been a better afternoon for him, stats-wise, but that's so much water under the bridge. He wasn't sacked all afternoon, and though the offense stalled for a long period in the second half, they played through the drops and managed enough points to avoid a woulda-coulda-shoulda finish.