Sophomore offensive tackle R.J. Mattes, whose return from a 2009 knee injury has been eagerly anticipated by coach Tom O'Brien, played Thursday night for the first time.
O'Brien admires Mattes because of his physicality and toughness, and he has said Mattes is the key player on this season's offensive line. A torn knee ligament suffered last season against Florida State sidelined Mattes until Thursday.
He got off to a bit of a rough start with an illegal formation penalty on N.C. State's third possession, but the Wolfpack scored a touchdown anyway on that drive with the help of a roughing the passer penalty.
Gary Gregory made the start at right offensive tackle for Mikel Overgaard, who was out with an elbow injury suffered Saturday at Central Florida. Mattes replaced Gregory in the first quarter.
The new "Tuffy" Tamaskan dog mascot that N.C. State used Thursday night looks more like a wolf than the one that made its debut for the Sept. 4 season-opener.
Give the N.C. State athletic staff credit on this issue. It seems clear that fans want a live, wolf-like mascot, and the staff and athletic director Debbie Yow appear determined to give them one.
N.C. State redshirt freshman Dean Haynes looked like a defensive back who had moved to running back in the second quarter.
He fumbled twice in the quarter, Cincinnati recovered one of the fumbles, and Haynes went to the bench. Sure enough, before the end of the quarter, third-team running back Curtis Underwood scored on a 12-yard reception.
How much of a difference does linebacker Nate Irving make to N.C. State's defense?
After Irving went down briefly with an injury, Cincinnati got loose for 42 yards on six plays to end the first quarter. Irving returned on the same drive at the start of the second quarter.
Cincinnati's next four plays gained a net total of 7 yards.