By opening up the field and trying to get the most out of quarterback Mike Glennon, it seemed to loosen up the South Alabama defense during the home opener. N.C. State's offense produced 384 total yards and that was a step in the right direction.
The Wolfpack looked for some big plays downfield early in the game, a plan devised by offensive coordinator Dana Bible.
"Once we start throwing it well, then we'll start running it and I thought we ran the ball well," coach Tom O'Brien said.
Some of the downfield approach is predicated on the Wolfpack providing better pass protection for Glennon. The pass-first strategy is another way to put more receivers into the primary part of the game plan as N.C. State seeks to find more dependable play makers.
Even with the effort to stretch the opposing defense, the Wolfpack finished with only 127 rushing yards. If that number doesn't improve, it might make it difficult to fully utilize Glennon's capability of getting the ball downfield for potential big gainers.
WHAT'S AHEAD: The Wolfpack will have perhaps a tougher-than-expected game next on the docket with a visit from The Citadel, which is a member of the Southern Conference. The Citadel is coming off back-to-back upsets in the Football Championship Subdivision, knocking off Georgia Southern and Appalachian State.
-- The saga involving RB Mustafa Greene continues to have strange turns, with the latest a one-game suspension for the home opener. This was after Greene was dubbed the starter in an ongoing three-way competition at tailback.
Greene was considered the front runner to emerge as the regular tailback at the start of the week, then he didn't play in the game and coach Tom O'Brien left unstated the reason for the suspension for a player who was absent from spring work for disciplinary reasons as well. Greene essentially "forfeited his right to step up," O'Brien said, because of the latest mishap.
-- The Wolfpack scored a touchdown in its first possession of the South Alabama game and that hadn't happened in the previous nine games.
So for a team that managed only one touchdown the previous week and had fallen behind in the first half of the opener, the strong start was encouraging.
It wasn't since a 2011 home game against Central Michigan that the Wolfpack had posted a touchdown on its first possession.
KEEP AN EYE ON: There are some receiver combinations that should be monitored, and with two junior wideouts scoring their first career touchdowns in the game against South Alabama, there are more options emerging in the passing attack.
WR Rashard Smith and WR Quintin Payton both scored on catches for the first time, both coming in the first half against South Alabama.
LOOKING GOOD: The defense had its second big game in as many weeks in the victory against South Alabama. The Wolfpack held its opponent to a combined 0-for-12 on third- and fourth-down conversions attempts. Eleven of those situations came on third downs and it had been 228 games (or since 1992 against Virginia Tech) when the Wolfpack last held a team without a third-down conversion.
STILL NEEDS WORK: There were some improvements as expected in the passing attack after countless breakdowns in the previous game. But despite QB Mike Glennon's strong completion rate against South Alabama, he was flushed from the pocket and put in a hurry-up mode on a regular basis. So the progress will be noted, but there will be more attention paid to this issue in the coming weeks.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We don't want to make the same mistake twice. Learn from the mistake and don't let it happen again. I think (against South Alabama) there was a lot of evidence that there weren't as many mistakes." -- QB Mike Glennon, who in two career games against South Alabama has thrown for seven touchdowns without an interception.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
-- WR Bryan Underwood has caught a touchdown pass in all three games this season after coming back from a minor knee surgery during August. Four of his five career touchdown passes have been of at least 33 yards, including the sophomore's 44-yarder against South Alabama.
-- RB Tony Creecy returned to the starting lineup with RB Mustafa Greene sitting out for one-game suspension. With the Wolfpack intent on finding a go-to tailback rather than a three-player rotation at the position, Creecy might have aided his cause by rushing for 68 yards on 15 carries. That was a clip of 4.5 yards per attempt.
-- CB David Amerson picked up his second interception in as many games with a pickoff against South Alabama. That pushes the junior's career total to 15, putting him one interception away from the school record.
-- K Niklas Slade has made 50 consecutive extra points after converting all four kicks in the game against South Alabama. That gives the sophomore the fourth-longest streak in school history.
-- DT A.J. Ferguson played for the first time this season in the team's third game and was credited with a couple of sacks and forced a fumble. He had missed practice because of academic reasons in the preseason, so he has been slow to get into the flow.
-- QB Manny Stocker got some game action in the third game of the season. The true freshman is the backup to QB Mike Glennon, thrust into that role in part because of offseason roster changes. Stocker didn't attempt a pass against South Alabama and he absorbed one sack, but the game action was probably vital nonetheless.