N.C. State's defense relied on a successful formula of getting to the quarterback and causing turnovers in 2010 and 2011. In Friday's 35-21 loss to Tennessee, the Wolfpack did neither.
State's defense finished the Tennessee game with one sack and one turnover. Instead of big plays by the Pack's defense, it was the Volunteers who had five plays of 20 yards or more on offense.
The Pack played a lot of nickel and appeared to blitz less in Friday's game than previous seasons which relied on blitzes from the linebackers. State had to replace three starting linebackers from last season with both Audie Cole and Terrell Manning in the NFL.
Lucas, who replaced Cole at middle linebacker, had nine tackles and the team's only sack against Tennessee. Weak side linebacker Rickey Dowdy, Manning's replacement, had seven tackles. Strong side linebackers Brandon Pittman and Rodman Noel had one tackle each.
"We still have to be a pressure team," O'Brien said. "We haven't changed our philosophy on defense at all."
State ranked in top 10 nationally in sacks and takeaways in 2010 and 2011. The Pack was unable to generate much pressure on Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, who finished with 333 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
"We didn't get to him as much but he got rid of the ball awful fast," O'Brien said,
State led the country with 27 interceptions last season but did not have one against Bray, who completed 27 of 41 passes.