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September 8, 2012
Quick hits and notes from NC State's 10-7 victory at Connecticut in front of 34,202 fans at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., Saturday afternoon.
A win is a win, right?
NC State's 10 points were the fewest in a victory since they shut out South Carolina 10-0 in 1999, a game played in torrential rains during Lou Holtz's first game coaching the Gamecocks. Ironically South Carolina was also involved in the last time State played such a low-scoring overall non-conference game. The Gamecocks knocked off NCSU 7-3 at Carter-Finley Stadium in the 2009 season-opener.
Last year's 13-0 home win over UNC was the last time State was involved in a game with fewer total points. This was the lowest overall scoring game away from Carter-Finley Stadium for State since a 14-0 win over South Florida in Charlotte during the 2005 Meineke Car Care Bowl.
From what we can tell, the last time State scored 10 points or less and won a game away from home was 6-0 against Maryland in 1970 in a game played at Norfolk, Va. In a true road game, the last time NCSU scored so few and won was 10-6 at Wake Forest in 1968.
Almost a shutout
When Connecticut sophomore back Lyle McCombs scored on a five-yard touchdown with 7:00 left in the game, it ended State's attempt of its first road game shutout since 1977 against Syracuse. Connecticut had not been shut out at home since 1978 against Connecticut.
Still, Saturday was a stout effort for the defense, which gave up just 239 yards of total offense and 12 first downs, two of which came because of a Wolfpack penalty. Connecticut was held to just 35 yards net rushing on 32 carries. McCombs, a freshman All-American last season after rushing for 1,151 yards in 2011, ran 20 times for just 60 yards.
Had this game been played last season, the total yards would have been the third fewest behind UNC and at Boston College for yards allowed and trailed only the UNC game in fewest rushing yards allowed.
The biggest negative for the defense Saturday was a potential injury to fifth-year senior safety Earl Wolff, who picked off a pass and recovered a fumble before leaving.
Saturday may have also been a breakout game for sophomore linebacker Rodman Noel, who finished with a career-high six tackles, including one for a loss.
Wolff's interception was the fifth of his career. Senior safety Brandan Bishop and junior corner David Amerson also intercepted passes. For Bishop, it was the 10th of his career, allowing him to join a list of 12 other NC State defenders with double-digit career interception totals. Bishop is tied for sixth all-time in school history.
Amerson's pick was the 14th of his career, moving him to within two of Eric Williams and Art Rooney for the all-time school best.
State may want to reconsider playing games in the Northeast. Last year State lost 14-10 at Boston College. Since BC joined the ACC, State has scored 10, 17, 20 and 10 points in four games in Massachusetts. Now comes this output at Connecticut.
NCSU gained just 258 yards of total offense. The only time they had less last year was when they mustered just 166 total yards in a shutout 34-0 loss at Florida State. NCSU could only manage 54 yards rushing, a number partly skewed by the fact they allowed six sacks, the most given up since Cincinnati got to Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon six times last year.
The Pack had to play this game without starting left tackle Rob Crisp, as the junior did not make the trip to Connecticut with an unspecified injury. In his place was redshirt sophomore Tyson Chandler, and he struggled mightily to contain UConn senior defensive end Trevardo Williams.
Williams had 12.5 sacks last year and had a four-sack performance against Rutgers. He finished the game with 2.5 sacks and assisted on another hit for a loss. He now has 22.5 career sacks.
The poor offensive performance did net one career-high. Sophomore punter Wil Baumann's nine punts matched the most he has done in a game with the nine he had at Virginia last season. Baumann averaged 38.6 yards per kick on the windy afternoon.
Freshman receiver Charlie Hegedus saw more playing time and like last week caught one pass, this time for 11 yards. A second true freshman got onto the field Saturday. Linebacker M.J. Salahuddin played on special teams.
What the win means
NC State improves to 1-1 overall and Connecticut drops to 1-1. State is now 2-0 against the Huskies all-time, and O'Brien improved his personal record against UConn head coach Paul Pasqualoni to 4-5. O'Brien is 5-4 against Big East teams since coming to NCSU. He is also 5-0 all-time against Connecticut.