David Kehrli, Correspondent
RALEIGH, N.C. – The N.C. State Wolfpack (2-1) took care of business Saturday with a 49-16 victory over the Furman Paladins (0-3).
The Pack showed some improvement in areas, but concerns remain heading into a contest with powerhouse Florida State.
Here are three takeaways from the Wolfpack’s win over the Paladins:
Defensive line plays better
With the secondary dealing with injuries and still giving up big plays, the Wolfpack needs its highly-touted defensive line to take its game to the next level.
The defensive line entered the season in the conversation as one of the best in the country, but up until this point, has underwhelmed relative to expectations.
After totaling just two sacks from linemen in its first two games, N.C. State added two more against Furman and was finally a constant disruptive force in the backfield with eight tackles for a loss.
A Darian Roseboro quarterback pressure forced a Shawn Boone pick-six in the third quarter against the Paladins.
Defensive end Kentavius Street forced and recovered a fumble, and DE backup James Smith-Williams recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter.
For the Wolfpack to make some noise in the ACC, the defensive line must do more of what it did against Furman, starting this coming Saturday against Florida State in Tallahassee.
Offensive line gets starting five back
N.C. State put its entire planned starting offensive line on the field for the first time this season as right tackle Will Richardson returned from a two-game suspension against Furman.
Without Richardson and with players on the line shuffled around, the Wolfpack running game was less than impressive in the first two games, averaging just 116.5 yards a game and 3.4 yards per rush.
With Richardson in the lineup and players returning to their natural positions, N.C. State rushed for 242 yards (6.2 yards per rush) and five touchdowns against Furman.
Junior running back Nyheim Hines powered the improved rushing attack with 92 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Senior Jaylen Samuels punched the ball into the end zone three times on the ground.
Having the full starting five back together is certainly a help for the Wolfpack offense, regardless of how inflated the stats may be against an FCS team.
The offensive line will be key against a Florida State defense that held No. 1 Alabama to 269 yards of total offense.
Although Furman only threw the ball for 196 yards, there are still legitimate concerns with the N.C. State secondary.
The injuries in the defensive backfield have already piled up this season with Freddie Phillips Jr. and James Valdez out for the season, Mike Stevens having yet to play and Dexter Wright missing time.
Missing those players has showed, as teams have exploited a young secondary that lacks depth.
While the Pack didn’t give up 248 receiving yards to one player like it did to Marshall’s Tyre Brady, it still gave up big chunk plays against a run-heavy Furman offense.
Furman tight end Andy Schumpert somehow broke wide open for an easy 71-yard touchdown catch late in the first half.
On a separate play, corner Nick McCloud had the opportunity to make a tackle at the line of scrimmage on a blitz, but failed to keep and contain, allowing Furman to bust off a 45-yard run.
N.C. State continues to have too many mental lapses that lead to big plays.
You can get away with it against Furman and Marshall, but you won’t against Florida State.
The Wolfpack hopes to have both Stevens and Wright back against the Seminoles, which would go a long way in helping its chances of an upset.
David Kehrli: @DavidKehrli