We could probably just streamline this "morning after" segment: the first quarter (the good), the rest of the game (the bad), and the ugly (lardass lineman unnecessarily flops on top of Jerod Fernandez, resulting in what appeared to be a serious injury), but when you break an embarrassingly long losing streak in road games against the team your beloved program has played more than any other, you better believe you're getting you some bullets.
Goodness, that sentence was nearly as long as NC State's scoring drought after it rocketed to a 28-0, first-quarter lead Saturday against Wake Forest. The Pack snoozed home to a 35-17 win, moving just one more triumph from the hallowed ground of bowl eligibility by escaping Winston-Salem with a "W" for the first time since 2001. (I totally wrote bowel instead of bowl in that last sentence and seriously considering just leaving it.)
Oh yeah, I promised bullets.
- The heretofore absent big plays in the passing game reared their beautiful heads with a vengeance right from the get go, with Jacoby Brissett hell-no-ing a sack before finding Maurice Trowell for a 59-yard house call (Dave Doeren's term, shamelessly stolen). Trowell's first career score put the Pack up 7-0 before the game was a minute old.
- The redshirt freshman seemed to emerge from the bye week as a more integral part of the offense, as he caught four balls for a team-high 87 yards. Trowell had just two catches for eight yards on the season before busting loose.
- Nyheim Hines got into the score-your-first-career-TD act on a 58-yard bomb later in the frame.
- Meanwhile, Matt Dayes did Matt Dayes things, scoring on a career-long 85-yard ankle breaker before adding a 57-yard scamper. Though he was used sparingly after the opening frame, Dayes still notched a career-best 205 yards on just 16 carries. He was stopped for a loss exactly zero times and has a dozen rushing scores on the season.
- If Dayes managed another 205 yards next time out (highly unlikely, but let's dare to dream), it would leave him a mere two yards shy of becoming NC State's first 1,000-yard rusher since Touchdown Anytime McClendon in 2002. Woo hoo! Arbitrary thresholds!
- Dayes is also on pace to break T.A.'s single-season record of 18 scores and needs just one more trip to pay dirt to match his team-leading total of 13 TDs from a year ago. Brace yourselves for this stat: Dayes has 30 career touchdowns, or just three less than Torry Holt had in his career. Ted Brown (51) is probably off limits, but Dayes (currently 6th) has a good chance to end up second in career scores in program history.
- The average offensive scoring play for the Pack covered 64.75 yards! Bra'lon Cherry's 52-yard punt return to put the game yet further away in the fourth quarter is not included in that figure, but it wouldn't exactly tarnish it much. Cherry now has 311 punt-return yards on the season and is averaging 16.4 yards per run back, a figure that will probably place him in the top 10 nationally once stats are updated for the weekend.
- The team totaled 475 yards of offense overall (more than it managed in its two previous ACC games combined).
- The Pack pulled down Wake quarterbacks for sacks SEVEN times, led by a three-sack performance from Mike Rose. The senior now has a team-high 6.5 sacks on the season. True freshman Darian Roseboro continued to impress with a pair of sacks; Bradley Chubb got one while his mama was being interviewed in the stands; Shawn Boone got one too.
- The Pack held opposing QBs to a sub-50% completion rate for the sixth straight game and Hakim Jones returned from injury in style with a pick.
- A.J. Cole out-punted heralded Wake boomer Alex Kinal 44.5 to 43.2 and had four boots inside the 20.
- The big-play bugaboo continued to plague the Pack, as Kendall Hinton scrambled for a 69-yard score to temporarily breathe a bit of life into the Deacs. It was pretty evident why Doeren recruited Hinton, who should develop into a solid dual-threat QB for Dave Clawson.
- After giving away five first downs on penalties against Virginia Tech, the Pack was again generous with the marker-moving miscues, gifting Wake four new sets of downs via penalty.
- After the ridiculous 322-yard outburst in the first 15 minutes, the Pack managed just 153 yards over the final three stanzas. Obviously, it's going to take four quarters of full-effort football to not get embarrassed by a Clemson team that likely sent Al Golden to the unemployment line by handing the under-achieving Canes their worst loss in program history yesterday.
- Jaylen Samuels looked surprisingly human, raising concerns about his foot injury. Jay-Sam did have a team-high seven catches but for just 26 yards. He was pedestrian in the running game, gaining a mere nine yards on four attempts. I fear the apocalypse.
- Brissett was solid (20-for-34, 227 yards, two TDs, no picks, and just one sack), but he missed a completely unaccounted for Trowell alone in the end zone when Wake simply could not be bothered with covering him. How do you not survey the field pre-snap and take note and advantage of this fortuitousness defensive misalignment?
- I am ready for the Jackson Maples experience. Kyle Bambard is 3-for-8 with three misses inside of 40 yards, and the most recent shank was about 30 yards off target.
- Fernandez's aforementioned injury. Thankfully x-rays did not indicate a break (though perhaps some dirty play), so perhaps his season is not over.
Oh god, Clemson.