Instead of ordering a dose of Bear Bryant's "Junction Boys" gridiron justice, N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien decided to give his football players a day off the field after its deflating 34-27 loss at Wake Forest on Saturday.
No extra wind sprints or sweat-until-you-bleed drills for the Wolfpack, just film review on Sunday and the regularly scheduled day off on Monday.
"I didn't understand what was going on at first," senior receiver T.J. Graham said. "I was ready to get back to practice. It threw me off."
Since the next two games will come in a six-day span, O'Brien said he used Sunday as a chance for extra rest. He also promised, after what safety Brandon Bishop called an "embarrassing" effort on defense, the team will get back to basics.
"We have a couple of guys, in our analysis, who haven't been practicing all that well, and they better start practicing well or they're going to continue to play poorly," O'Brien said. "That's my fault and the coaches' fault. We've got to make that happen."
O'Brien didn't name any names but said the offending players are on notice.
"They've been told," O'Brien said. "And they'll be told again."
The Wolfpack defense, which was a strength for last year's 9-4 team, was ripped up by Wake Forest for 438 total yards and 34 points. In the opener, Liberty finished with 406 yards, but the defense offset the yardage with seven turnovers.
There was no redeemable quality to N.C. State's defensive effort against the Deacons, Bishop said.
"It was an all-around terrible effort, embarrassing to say the least," he said.
In tackle J.R. Sweezy, end Jeff Rieskamp and tackle Thomas Teal, O'Brien said the team's three best pass rushers missed the Wake game with injury. Sweezy, who had six sacks last season, is expected to be out another two to three games with a fractured bone in his left foot.
Rieskamp injured his shoulder in practice last week, O'Brien said, and is week-to-week. O'Brien said he doesn't expect Rieskamp to play on Saturday against South Alabama, a Football Championship Subdivision opponent.
Bishop, who had an interception and two tackles against Wake, said the defense can't use the injuries as an excuse.
"It was ugly, and there were a lot of reasons why it was ugly, but the good thing is everything is fixable, and we'll go back to work and we'll correct those things," Bishop said.
There were some promising signs on offense, particularly the play of quarterback Mike Glennon (315 yards, three TDs) and receivers Tobais Plamer (seven catches, 96 yards) and Graham (6 catches for 117 yards), O'Brien said.
O'Brien was also pleased with freshman punter Wil Baumann, who landed three punts inside Wake's 20, and freshman kicker Niklas Sade, who hit field goals from 45 and 37 yards.
Still, the issues on defense irked O'Brien, who is expecting improvement this week.
"This is not disrespecting South Alabama at all, but we need a good week of practice after what we just went through," O'Brien said. "I'm sure they'll be a tough foe, and they'll come in here and this will be their Super Bowl, but it's a good thing we're not playing another ACC game on the road, at this point in the season."
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