NC State's running game making progress

Entering last weekend's game against Western Carolina, NC State had five offensive linemen who had never started a game and two running backs who had never even played in a college game.

It was hardly a disaster.

Starting running back Dean Haynes ran for 69 yards and a touchdown, and freshman Mustafa Greene had 35 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.

"Our thought process early was keep it simple," coach Tom O'Brien said. "Hold on to the football, run to the goal line and straight up the field -- no bouncing, no doing anything. As the game progressed and everybody started to get a little more in sync and get into the flow of things and get used to playing, we did a couple different things with them. As the game went on, we got better up front and with both of those kids running the football."

O'Brien said the offensive line did what it had to do for the pass protection, and was going in the right direction the whole night. This week they've worked on some fundamentals. True freshman Robert Crisp started at left tackle in place of starter Jake Vermiglio, and O'Brien called it an "exceptional performance for a freshman."

"What you see in him is really good athletic ability," O'Brien said. "You saw a great tenaciousness. He's got a certain confidence about himself, and he did a great job."

Vermiglio, one of three players held out after facing charges in April that have since been dropped, is still practicing this week and his status could be a game-time decision.