The NC State Wolfpack opened up their season with a win for the first time during coach Tom O'Brien's tenure in Raleigh. The Pack hammered the Western Carolina Catamounts 48-7 at Carter-Finley Stadium behind Russell Wilson's 306-yard, four touchdown throwing effort despite only three quarters of action. Wilson spread the ball around but still has a long way to go, according to O'Brien.
"I think he's still rusty," the coach said. "He hasn't played since November, so that's understandable. He's still not in flow from where he was a year ago, but he's one of those guys who, because of his athleticism, can give the effort and perform well."
Western Carolina opened the game with an impressive 87-yard scoring drive capped by a 23-yard scoring reception from Zack Jaynes to DeJa Alexander, a Central Michigan transfer. The Pack defense tightened up after that, though, allowing only 102 totals yards following the successful drive.
The NC State offense struggled on their first attempt, but Alexander, the Catamounts' punt returner, muffed Jeff Ruiz' first kick and fullback Taylor Gentry recovered the ball on the Western Carolina 26-yard line. The Pack aerial attack took off after the special teams turnover. Wilson hooked up with T.J. Graham for his first touchdown throw of 2010 on the first play from scrimmage following the fumble.
"It was tough early," O'Brien said. "We knew [Western Carolina] were going to stack the line of scrimmage, but as the game went on, I think [the running backs] got things going. I think they ran the ball well and bounced off tackles as the game went on."
The Pack forced another punt on the ensuing Catamount possession. After taking over on their own 28, NC State methodically marched down the field and Wilson found Graham for their second scoring connection of the day, this one a 25-yard reception.
Another Western three-and-out opened the second quarter before Wilson found Owen Spencer on a first-down, 60-yard bomb. That set up a one-yard receiving touchdown from Wilson to Taylor Gentry.
After another quick Catamount drive, Wilson found George Bryan on the following possession for a seven-yard touchdown pass.
The Pack defense held and the team took the ball back with just under three minutes left in the first half. Wilson led the Pack on a 54-yard drive that resulted in a Josh Czajkowski 24-yard field goal before halftime, which gave NC State a 31-7 lead going into the break.
Graham opened the second half with a 50-yard kick return and Wilson took the field again due to such a long layoff from football, according to O'Brien. Wilson led the Pack on another scoring drive, capped by a 28-yard field goal from Czajkowski.
Another quick Western Carolina punt resulted in Wilson leading the Pack to their seventh, and final, scoring drive with the redshirt junior at the helm. True freshman Mustafa Greene notched the Pack's first rushing touchdown of 2010 and finished the night with 10 carries for 35 yards.
Mike Glennon relieved Wilson under center after another unsuccessful Catamount drive, and promptly led the Pack on a 38-yard scoring drive of their own. Glennon found Jarvis Williams for a 17-yard gain on first down and Dean Haynes finished off the drive with a one-yard plunge.
The Red and White defense forced another Catamount punt and Glennon was leading the Pack down the field before being injured on a first-and-ten play from the Western 22-yard line. While trying to avoid the defensive pressure, Glennon was running to his right and was tackled close to the sideline, injuring his knee. Daniel Imhoff took Glennon's place in the game but was only able to guide the Pack to 18 yards of offense before the final whistle blew.
Glennon finished 2-of-5 for 31 yards while Imhoff was 2-of-2 for 14 yards. Wilson's final line included 21 completions on 31 attempts and he was sacked three times. Haynes finished the night leading the Pack with 69 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. Graham led all players with 96 yards receiving on six catches and two scores while Spencer chipped in four receptions for 92 yards.
True freshman Robert Crisp also started at left tackle for the Pack, becoming only the second true freshman to start a season opener on the offensive line since 2003.