RALEIGH — Just when it didn’t seem possible, N.C. State’s injury situation got worse on Saturday.
The Wolfpack lost more starters and replacements for replacements dropped in Saturday’s 24-10 loss to Syracuse, leaving the Wolfpack scrambling for healthy bodies by the fourth quarter.
Five starters were missing before the game and four more hit the sidelines during the game. The biggest injuries actually came on defense, where cornerback Jack Tocho – subbing for injured safety Jarvis Byrd – went to the sidelines with an injured right shoulder after he had two interceptions in the first half.
Defensive tackle T.Y. McGill missed the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury. Syracuse ran for 134 yards in the fourth quarter on just seven carries.
N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said injuries were part of the game but they obviously took a toll on the Wolfpack lineup.
“I don’t get to complain about that,” Doeren said. “I have to coach who’s there, and we will, and the trainers are doing everything they can to get the rest of them back to us.”
The Wolfpack started the game without quarterback Brandon Mitchell, receiver Rashard Smith, tackle Rob Crisp, defensive end Darryl Cato-Bishop and Byrd.
Tocho, a freshman making his first start, got hurt after his second interception in the second quarter. Left tackle Joe Thuney, Crisp’s replacement, also got hurt in the first half.
McGill and quarterback Pete Thomas followed in the second half. Thomas hurt his left shoulder after a sack late in the fourth quarter.
Doeren said Thomas, who has started the past five games for the injured Mitchell, was not seriously hurt.
“He’ll be OK in a couple of days,” Doeren said. “He just landed on it funny.”
The second open date on N.C. State’s schedule comes next week. The Wolfpack will have to travel to Florida State on Oct. 26, which begins a stretch of three road games in a four-game span.
There’s also still three in-state rivalry games left on the schedule for the Wolfpack.
“Either we’re going to crack or keep fighting,” senior defensive back Dontae Johnson said. “We have another six games to make it to the postseason and that’s what we’re going to do.”
FILLING IN: Sophomore Travares Copeland started at receiver for Rashard Smith and caught four passes for 45 yards. Copeland, a transfer from West Virginia, missed the first three games with a hamstring injury.
Dontae Johnson moved from corner to free safety to replace Jarvis Byrd, who suffered a leg injury last week at Wake Forest, and Jack Tocho started at corner. Tocho picked off Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt twice in the second quarter. He returned the first interception 26 yards and the second one 24 yards. Both set up the Wolfpack offense in Syracuse territory.
Doeren cited the play of Copeland, Tocho and redshirt freshman David J. Grinnage, who caught a 21-yard touchdown in the second quarter, as positives from the loss.
“There are some positives to the game but the finish wasn’t,” Doeren said.