N.C. State lost to No. 1 Florida State on Saturday, there’s nothing the Wolfpack can do to change that.
But junior defensive end Mike Rose said if the Wolfpack can learn from the 56-41 loss to the powerful Seminoles, it can do some damage in the ACC, a year after going winless in conference play.
“I think we can beat any team as long as we play better defense,” Rose said.
N.C. State (4-1, 0-1) started fast on defense, limiting Florida State to seven points and no rushing yards in the first quarter and forcing a fumble in FSU territory on a sack of Jameis Winston.
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The Wolfpack led 24-7 after the first quarter but faded with Winston finding his rhythm and running back Karlos Williams getting in gear.
The Seminoles scored 35 points and rushed for 150 yards in the second half.
“They played a great second half,” Rose said. “If we play a better second half, we win that game.”
Williams finished the game with 126 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter, to go with 365 passing yards and four touchdowns by Winston.
“We didn’t make enough plays in the second half, and they did,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said.
“There’s a lot of things we need to do better to stop a team like that; we didn’t tackle well at times in the second half.”
There’s still enough good things to build off of, freshman receiver Bo Hines said, especially from a confidence standpoint.
“We obviously showed we can play with anybody, that’s the No. 1 team in the country,” said Hines, who finished with eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown.
The biggest source of confidence with a difficult stretch of Clemson, Boston College and Louisville coming up, is the play of junior quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
Brissett was strong in the first four games, but he was “spectacular,” as Hines put it, against the Seminoles.
The Florida transfer threw for 359 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His 8-yard touchdown pass to Johnathan Alston in the first quarter topped ESPN’s “SportsCenter“ plays of the day.
It looked like safety Jalen Ramsey was going to sack Brissett in the pocket on a blitz, but he ducked under Ramsey, who swiped at Brissett’s helmet.
Then defensive end DeMarcus Walker chased Brissett to the right sideline and caught him near the hashmark, but Brissett stiff-armed him and then was able to shake away.
Brissett said he was just improvising on the incredible touchdown.
“I was about to throw the ball away and (Walker) just slid down to my leg, so I was like, I’m going to run it,” Brissett said. “I saw David (Grinnage) in the back of the end zone, I was throwing it to him. Then I saw ‘J’ come out of nowhere.”
Brissett said the offense was “locked in” for most of the first three quarters. The Wolfpack led 38-28 with 6 minutes left in the third.
A fumble by Brissett, after a sack by end Lorenzo Featherston, gave the Seminoles a first-and-goal from the 6. Brissett wished he could have had that play back.
“I feel like it was my fault towards the end, making some of the plays that I did, putting us in bad situations,” Brissett said. “I’ve got to learn from it.”
That’s a goal for everyone, not just Brissett – learn from the effort and turn it into wins.