NC State appeared to have suffered no hangover from losing its ACC opener in disappointing fashion to Louisville, jumping to an early 10-0 advantage in the theoretically tough atmosphere of Lane Stadium at night. But then the second quarter happened; Virginia Tech rattled off 21 consecutive points and the Pack would manage a mere field goal the rest of the way to drop their second straight. The Hokies salted it away with a long touchdown run near the end of the game—the first points State had surrendered in the fourth quarter all season—to make the final 28-13.
The game was closer than that, but there are no moral victories, even on the road, against a Virginia Tech team that came in with a losing record after managing a grand total of 100 yards of offense in a home loss to a decidedly mediocre Pittsburgh squad.
As with any loss, the bad far outweighed the good, but let's start with what went right. They don't call it the bad, the good, and the ugly for a reason.
- Jumichael Ramos made an excellent catch despite being blanketed by coverage for the game's first touchdown; it was nice to see him have a moment after his unfortunate fumble shifted the momentum in the prior week's loss to Louisville.
- Kyle Bambard connected on both of his field goal attempts and an extra point, hopefully gaining a little confidence after a spotty start to his career. He also made a nice catch of a high snap after inexplicably being called upon to punt. It's like the snapper forgot that the punter was about a foot shorter than A.J. Cole, but Bambard averted disaster by leaping to corral the snap and rugby-styling a 49 yarder under pressure.
- A week after seeming to lose its identity on offense, the Pack did remain somewhat committed to running between the tackles, even giving some "Shad carries" to the talented Jaylen Samuels. JaySam made good with a solid 4.7 average per carry. He added a couple of catches for 29 yards as well and desperately needs more touches. As a team, State average five sack-adjusted yards per carry, which is encouraging.
- Despite the steady harassment of the secondary on BTP, the defense has held the opposing team to a sub-50% completion percentage for five consecutive weeks.
- Airius Moore, while struggling a bit in coverage, was stout in the run game, making 10 stops.
- Pharoah McKever notched his first sack of the season.
- The other football team tied #4 Wake Forest in thrilling, Beameresque fashion, 0-0.
- A young team failed to fight through the momentum swing in the second quarter. Unfortunately you don't get to toss out a quarter, but the Pack only allowed seven points outside of the snowballing of suck in the second frame.
- Cole was otherwise solid, averaging 43.8 yards per boot, but had his worst punt at the worst time—when the Hokies were surging. Coupled with a ridiculous 10-yard penalty on JaySam for being a bit too forceful with his downing of the short, bouncing kick, the shank set the Hokies up with great field position and they punched it in for a 14-10 lead.
- The Hokies got seven in their first three trips to the red zone; the Pack settled for field goals twice.
- The Pack once again failed to force a turnover and was -1 for the game in takeaways.
- The play pretty solid defense overall but give up the big play theme continued for the defense. After Hakim Jones left with an injury, Brenden Motley picked on his replacement, Germaine Pratt, for a 27-yard score. Later, Travon McMillian put the game away on a 59-yard scamper.
- Despite uncolorful colorman Mack Brown's repeatedly noting Matt Canada's mantra that the Pack must stay on track in down and distance, there were seemingly a million east-west first down calls that put the Pack off schedule when they went sour for negative yardage.
- After running nine consecutive times for 63 yards down to the Va. Tech 14, Canada inexplicably called a roll out pass rather than another run, resulting in a fourth down and a field goal in the third quarter when the Pack trailed by 11.
- Jacoby Brissett was just 12-for-25 for 113 yards and was sacked four times.
- No JaySam scores. Did I mention he needs more touches?
- Isaiah Ford caught three TD passes in one quarter, something a Frank Beamer-coached receiver had never done in his 29 years at the helm of the Hokies.
- Virginia Tech had lost six of their last seven home games against power five conference opponents. This is just not a very good program anymore (once again, taking away any sense of "moral victory" out of play).
- The Pack were penalized nine times for 81 yards; five of those penalties resulted in Hokie first downs. Though there were a couple of questionable pass interference calls (and an obvious one that wasn't called against Va. Tech), you simply can't overcome all of that laundry on the road in a tight game.
- As bad as State's defense was in the second quarter, the offense certainly didn't do their mates any favors by managing a grand total of TWO yards in the frame. The defense was noticeably gassed when the Hokies marched for their third score.
- Dave Doeren is 3-15 against the ACC and the 0-2 start all but guarantees a fifth consecutive season in which NC State will not finish above .500 in conference play.
The upcoming bye week could not come at a better time. Steel yourselves for much "back to fundamentals" talk. Hopefully the offense uses the time to find an identity, but what the team really needs are daily sessions with a sports psychologist to exercise the demons of playing on the road at Wake Forest, a place where the Pack have not won since 2001. The dark horse for the ACC title has been taken to the glue factory; hopes of a top 25 finish are dashed; lose the Wake game, and the goal for even a lower tier bowl berth go on life support.