Namely, that the Wolfpack had the opportunity for most of the game to pull the upset over the No.3 ranked team in the country. Quarterback Pete Thomas was unable to make the plays when the Wolfpack needed him to, going a third straight week without throwing a touchdown pass. The transfer quarterback threw for 213 yards and an interception.
But perhaps the biggest story of the game, outside of the questionable call on Bryan Underwood which negated a huge touchdown that would have potentially put NC State ahead of Clemson 14-13, were the penalties. The Wolfpack had nine penalties for 57 yards, consistently shooting themselves in the foot and putting themselves behind the chains.
NC State, who had been unimpressive in their first two weeks against Louisiana Tech and Richmond, certainly showed some of why they have had those struggles. The Wolfpack’s running backs were a non-factor, as NC State’s leading rusher was their receiver Underwood, whose speed worked very well on the edge.
Despite nice protection in the first half of the game, NC State suddenly started giving in to the looks that Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables threw at the Wolfpack offense. Thomas got introduced to Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, who is steadily becoming a playmaker for the Tigers at defensive end.
And to top it off, once the Tigers jumped ahead 26-7 near the end of the third, NC State moved with no sense of urgency; and while they converted several fourth downs on an admirable 84-yard drive, that particular drive was both a blessing and a curse, as the Wolfpack scored on the drive while running over seven-and-a-half minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter.
The Wolfpack still have some work to do, especially on offense with penalties, and getting Brandon Mitchell back and healthy at quarterback in the near future could be a decent start towards that process.