Bye week comes at right time for Wolfpack
Saturday’s 24-10 loss at home to Syracuse left N.C. State more battered and bruised than when the game kicked off.
Already down five starters including quarterback Brandon Mitchell, backup signal caller Pete Thomas left the game late with a shoulder injury and offensive tackle Joe Thuney, defensive back Jack Tocho and defensive lineman T.Y. McGill also suffered injuries.
N.C. State announced Tuesday that starting redshirt senior defensive back Jarvis Byrd will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury suffered at Wake Forest.
With the Wolfpack (3-3, 0-3 ACC) sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic Division standings, a bye week couldn’t come at a better time as an Oct. 26 date at No. 5 Florida State looms.
“We’re at the halfway point of the season and both our quarterbacks are hurt,” N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren said following Saturday’s loss. “We get a bye week at the right time, try to get some guys back and I think we will. Look forward to seeing a lot of guys return to the lineup because we need them.”
Mitchell played three series in the season opener against Louisiana Tech before leaving with a broken bone in his left foot. He was in uniform Saturday, throwing pregame passes. But Doeren said the decision not to play Mitchell wasn’t a close call.
“We’ve shown this year that our quarterbacks are going to have to scramble at times,” said Doeren. “And I don’t want to have to put him in that position until I know for sure that he’s safe. And I think he will be by the next game.”
Garrett Leatham, a redshirt sophomore from Apex, was 6-of-11 passing for 77 yards against Syracuse after coming on for Thomas, who has thrown for 1,314 yards and three touchdowns this season. He also leads the team with 269 rushing yards.
Thomas is expected to be available against Florida State, as is Tocho, a freshman from Charlotte.
Tocho nabbed his first two career interceptions against the Seminoles before exiting the game.
That was one of the few bright spots for N.C. State’s defense, which gave up 436 yards of total offense, 362 of which came on the ground.
“We need to find ourselves and we need to get back to the practice field and work on some things to get better,” said senior linebacker Robert Caldwell. “We need to start trusting each other more.”
Senior cornerback Dontae Johnson led the Wolfpack with seven tackles Saturday. He said the players must also trust the coaching staff and keep a positive energy in the locker room after the 0-3 league start.
Following Florida State, N.C. State has conference home games remaining with North Carolina and Maryland and road matches at Duke and Boston College in addition to a Nov. 23 home meeting with East Carolina of Conference USA.
“There’s six games on our schedule,” said Doeren, “And we’re going to try to win every one of them.”
Contact the writer at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @KellenHoltzman.