RALEIGH, N.C. — Sometimes, numbers just don't add up. For Florida State's defense, Thursday night was one of those times.
The Seminoles came into their game at North Carolina State ranked fifth in the country in rushing defense, allowing only 64 yards per game. The Wolfpack ranked 117th nationally in rushing offense, having averaged just 80 yards.
So how to explain FSU allowing N.C. State to run for 157 yards and to gain more than seven yards a rush in 22 attempts?
You can't, FSU junior defensive end Everette Brown said.
"We weren't staying in our gaps, so everywhere we were they weren't," Brown said. "It was tough watching them keep moving the chains like that."
Fortunately for the Seminoles, their offense came to the rescue, enabling a rally in the fourth quarter of a 26-17 victory.
"The offense bailed us out tonight," senior cornerback Tony Carter said. "Defensively, we weren't at our best for most of the game, but the offense picked us up."
For much of the night, it didn't look as if that would be the case. The Wolfpack's effectiveness rushing helped produce its lone big pass play, a 67-yard catch and throw for a touchdown that put FSU in a 17-13 hole in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter.
On first and 10, quarterback Russell Wilson faked a handoff to tailback Andre Brown. The Seminoles, forced to commit to the run, left cornerback Korey Mangum to cover Wolfpack wide receiver Owen Spencer one on one.
With Mangum trailing by a step, Wilson made a perfect throw, hitting Spencer in stride. By the time the catch was made, the FSU defender didn't have a chance.
Mangum's failure was just one of several on the play, FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said.
"It was a complete team breakdown," Andrews said. "They came out with three tight ends in a running formation, and the personnel group we had on the field wasn't the right one for the play call. We just got beat all the way around."
It was a frustrating night all the way around, Andrews said.
"They'd had 11 days to prepare, and they got away from what they had been doing," he said of the Wolfpack. "They ran a lot of misdirection tonight, and we just weren't as prepared for it as we should have been.
"But that doesn't explain them averaging 10 yards a carry in the first half, which is what they did," he added. "Sometimes, I guess they wanted to keep running more than we wanted to get them on the ground."