It was a bad day for North Carolina State and coach Tom O’Brien in all phases of the game.
Nothing worked on offense, defense and special teams in the Wolfpack’s 34-0 loss to Florida State on Saturday.
“We didn’t play very well,” O’Brien conceded. “When you don’t play well against a team of this caliber, it ends up the way it ended up today.”
NC State failed to build momentum on offense and struggled defensively against Florida State, which is averaging more than 35 points a game in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
“It looks like they’re back to being the top-10 team that they were,” O’Brien said, referencing the Seminoles’ lofty poll standing earlier in the season.
NC State (4-4, 1-3) managed only 166 yards on offense while suffering its first shutout in three years. The Wolfpack had just 36 rushing yards, committed three turnovers and allowed four sacks. It was the first time since a 34-0 loss to South Carolina in the 2008 opener that the Wolfpack was kept off the scoreboard.
And while it’s a game he’ll probably remember longer than he would like, O’Brien is anxious to forget it.
“You have to be able to forget about [it],” he said. “You have got to protect the quarterback, and you have got to catch the ball and make plays when you’ve got a chance.”
NC State came into the game averaging 31.4 points and 370.6 yards offense but struggled all day to slow down Florida State’s speedy defense. The Wolfpack’s deepest penetration of the game was at Florida State’s 28, and that was the benefit of a penalty. They managed that -- getting onto FSU’s half of the field -- twice in the game.
Quarterback Mike Glennon, who had thrown for 1,717 yards and 19 TDs coming into the game, completed 19 of 34 passes for 130 yards, while James Washington was held to 35 yards on 13 carries.
“We didn’t give the quarterback enough time to throw the ball,” O’Brien said. “We didn’t protect him well enough.”
On the other hand, Florida State’s E.J. Manuel threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 25 of 34 passes and connected on scoring plays of 20 yards to Kenny Shaw and 26 yards to Greg Dent.
“He’s been the difference in their team,” O’Brien said. “When he went down, they had problems."
Florida State (5-3, 3-2) led 24-0 at halftime and intercepted Glennon twice en route to its second shutout of the season.
But it was Manuel’s ability to escape defenders that completely sold O’Brien.
“That one second down and forever and we have the guy stopped?” O’Brien said. “I don’t know how he gets out of three or four tackles and he makes the first down. He’s a special player.”
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said it may have been Manuel’s best performance overall since taking over as the team’s full-time starter this season.
“He makes you play better. He opens up your offense,” Fisher said. “I’m not saying he’s doing everything himself, but they’re all playing better. He has that effect on those guys.”
Lonnie Pryor and Devonta Freeman scored on short runs and Dustin Hopkins chipped in with two field goals for the Seminoles, who have bounced back from an early-season three-game losing streak with three straight wins.
NC State managed only 166 yards on offense, while suffering its first shutout since the 2008 season opener. The `Pack had just 36 rushing yards, committed three turnovers and allowed four sacks.
“It’s really what you strive for, but when you can actually have a shutout it’s amazing,” said Florida State linebacker Vince Williams, who had one of the Seminoles’ interceptions.
The Seminoles, who rolled up 444 yards and 23 first downs in the game, dominated from the opening kickoff.
Florida State’s offense produced 249 yards before halftime while its defense limited NC State to 106 yards, as Glennon managed only 71 passing yards and suffered one of his two interceptions.
It was Florida State’s first win of the season over a team that had a winning record.
Florida State, which had been ranked as high as fifth nationally earlier in the season, goes on the road for a Thursday night game at Boston College, while NC State hosts intrastate rival North Carolina next Saturday.