I’m not sure what else can be said about Wake Forest’s defense or first-time starting quarterback Jamie Newman other than this:

Wow.

Against an offense with two likely first-round picks on offense, the Deacons’ much-maligned defense continued the improvement that Coach Dave Clawson said he was seeing, subtlety, each week. He also said he was hoping they’d see some stats to back it up. The result to go along with it, though, is obviously what matters.

Newman started his first collegiate game in front of 56,228 fans and threw for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns, didn’t turn the ball over, made some truly dynamic plays with his legs and all the while, he never seemed to get overwhelmed by the situation.

Here are my observations throughout the game:

• And here, we, go (now read that back in Heath Ledger’s Joker voice). Newman has eye black only under his left eye. Greg Dortch only has it under his right eye. That’s a new one.

• Nasir Greer saved the opening kickoff from being a touchdown. Cade Carney missed a tackle, but the middle was pretty wide open, that can’t just be Carney’s responsibility.

• First play, TFL by Cameron Glenn. As noted on Twitter, Wake Forest’s season-high for TFLs in a game was eight entering the game. The Deacons had 11 on Thursday night — and Glenn had four of them. He’s playing at an extremely high level, with 47 tackles in the last four games.

• One of the Hasselbecks says he’s surprised Wake Forest deferred because of its defensive struggles. That’s fair, but he also must not have noticed how irked Dave Clawson was last week when the Deacons received the opening kick.

• I’ve watched the Dortch muffed punt five times. I still don’t know what he was trying to do. I think — like the rugby punt he fielded last week — he was trying to field it so that Wake Forest wouldn’t be starting from inside its 5-yard line.

• Jakobi Meyers on the jet sweep, the same play N.C. State ran for Jaylen Samuels for the past four years. Ja’Cquez Williams — who filled in admirably for the injured Demetrius Kemp — did well to string it out while being blocked.

• Six offensive plays, net minus-3 yards allowed by Wake Forest’s defense. This is the first time I’ll say it was their best performance of the season.

• On Wake Forest’s second snap, it’s a stretch to the right. Newman lowers his shoulder after the handoff and delivers a blow to a blitzing linebacker or defensive back. That’s, um, obviously something you didn’t really see with Sam Hartman.

• Willie Yarbary really did almost put a hand on the reverse pitch. And then Amari Henderson, who had a really good night, almost had an even better night with an interception.

• Having two former NFL QBs evaluating this game in the broadcast booth is fantastic. Ryan Finley is a sixth-year senior and likely first-round pick, and Newman is a redshirt sophomore who started for the first time (obviously).

• “Is an upset in the offing, maybe?” asks play-by-play commenter Dave Flemming. Short answer: No.

• Come on, man. One Hasselbeck: “They told me (Carney) was a 1,500-pound lifter, I don’t even know what that means.” Who do I have to send links to at ESPN?

• Brandon Chapman destroyed Germaine Pratt, N.C. State’s best defensive player, in the hole on Carney’s 9-yard carry through the middle.

• Reason No. 384 why targeting is a horrible rule: So you can be called for a 15-yard penalty, but if review shows an ejection isn’t warranted, then it’s not a penalty at all? I mean, if it’s not targeting, wasn’t that roughing the passer?

• Also: End all replay reviews in all sports. Except maybe tennis.

• Man, Newman did everything right on the fourth-down that Scotty Washington drops (which was inexcusable). Dortch and Chapman are both headed into the middle of the field, but that’s clogged with five defenders. Four-man rush is handled by the offensive line, but there’s not room to run for the first down, so Newman delivers the ball where it needed to go. Impressive, just need that play from Washington.

• Hello, how do you do, Mike Allen?

• Three straight completions for 18, 25 and 17 yards. All three of them terrific throws from Finley. But again – Clawson said he sees improvement in the defense, and there’s improvement to be seen in that they were for that kind of yardage, instead of 50- or 60-yard touchdowns, like earlier this season.

• And there’s Allen’s second TFL on this drive. He was only credited with 1½, but definitely should’ve gotten solo credits for both of them.

• Good coverage by Ja’Sir Taylor on the third-down drop near the goal line. Probably makes the tackle short of the end zone if that ball is caught.

• So now N.C. State has had two field goals in the red zone. Clawson joked before the Syracuse game that he would jump up and down and celebrate whenever the Deacons’ defense held an opponent to a field goal in the red zone, because heading into the matchup with the Orange, Wake Forest had allowed opponents to score touchdowns on 19 of 20 red-zone trips. Those became 23 of 26 trips after the 41-24 loss to Syracuse.

• So I don’t forget later: N.C. State scored one touchdown on five trips into Wake Forest’s red zone.

• These are eight-man boxes for N.C. State and Wake Forest is still pounding runs up the middle. Obvious effort made to ease Newman into the game, let him get comfortable, and a masterful job of it by offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero.

• Starting the second quarter facing third-and-long on the side with N.C. State’s student section is bound to lead to some false starts.

• I tweeted something kind of sarcastic about Dom Maggio’s 28-yard punt early in the second quarter — let me rescind that. He had to hurry because N.C. State sent about five players into the backfield looking for a block. Good job just to get it off.

• Didn’t realize they put Bradley Chubb next to Mario Williams in the Ring of Honor. That’s pretty awesome.

• Another three-man rush on third-and-long from Wake Forest, and Zeek Rodney chases Finley out of the pocket with a vicious spin move. Didn’t know he had that move in him, honestly.

• Carney breaks off a 28-yard run on the first play of a drive that started at the 11-yard line, and that was a huge play. Momentum and noise would’ve built up down there if it had gotten to second and third down. Phil Haynes and Jake Benzinger dominated their blocks, Ryan Anderson blocked two guys.

• Sage Surratt does, indeed, need the ball more. He’s one of the dozens of players who’s been hurt, according to Clawson.

• Big-time throw for 13 yards to Dortch, gaining back yardage lost on a holding call and a sack.

• Jarius Morehead almost picked off Newman, which would’ve been really weird for yours truly (I covered both of them in high school).

• Nick Sciba connects from 47 yards. Was just telling somebody, that was one of the biggest questions coming out of fall camp. And, with another field goal later in this game, he’s 13-for-16 this season. That’s about as well as could have been hoped for. It’s probably better.

• Whoa. Peyton Woulard played in this game. I had no idea. (didn’t have a stat, but is out there for start of N.C. State’s first-half touchdown drive)

• Essang Bassey just drops Finley on the pitch (that gets called back). It’s hardly the best example of Bassey’s open-field tackling prowess — but it’s a good one.

• Gallaspy’s 19-yard run should’ve been a TFL, but a little over-pursuit and a nice cut let him break it.

• Yarbary has gotten penetration on about half of N.C. State’s run plays, it seems.

• Awesome pass break-up in the end zone by Glenn. He really played one of the best games of his career in this game.

• Next play is his pass interference penalty in the end zone. I stand by what I said on Twitter, that was an uncatchable ball, way too high. As somebody relayed to me that Lary Sorensen said, Wilt Chamberlain couldn’t have caught that.

• Good to know we’re going with the “sneaky athletic” label for Finley. (*rolls eyes*)

• Third-and-9 incomplete on what looked like Surratt either ran his route too far, or Newman released it too quickly. Most-encouraging sign is that they’re talking it over before they leave the field, getting on the same page.

• Glenn gets his first career sack. Here’s what he said about it afterward: “Oh yeah, it was about time. Y’all see me up there rushing, I’m trying my hardest every time every game to get a sack and I finally got one.”

• Great read by Taylor, should’ve definitely been a pick, probably for a touchdown. But he breaks on that ball perfectly, everything else other than dropping it was outstanding.

• Jesse Palmer says at halftime that Wake Forest has to get Dortch going. Well, that’s coming.

• Man, stick this in the book of legend for Wake Forest: “Jamie didn’t lose us the game in the first half, now he needs to win us the game in the second half.”

• Second play of the half, Newman breaks a 26-yard run on an option. This was a special play. Just hard-cut a defensive end in the backfield, got through an arm-tackle and took off. His first of two special runs this half, if I recall correctly.

• Quick note: That’s the Newman I’m most familiar with from covering him at Graham, making some incredible plays out of nothing. This play probably did as much for him settling into the game as any of his throws, honestly.

• There’s only one ball, so touches are limited, but Alex Bachman needs more targets.

• I would’ve looked at you like you were crazy if you’d told me, after the Syracuse game and playing on a short week, that Wake Forest would be the sure-tackling team and N.C. State would be arm-tackling and lazy in this game.

• Third-and-2, Newman should’ve kept instead of handing off to Colburn. He’d have had to make one defender miss to get the first down, but Colburn would’ve had to make about six defenders miss.

• Colburn down. Word after the game was that it’s a sprained ankle. If I were a betting man, I’d wager he plays next weekend. Don’t think he’ll miss his Senior Day.

• Scoring on the opening possession of the second half was huge.

• Geez, Finley’s 18-yard throw to Emezie goes over the hand of Ja’Cquez Williams by a couple of inches and drops into Emezie before Henderson can get to it.

• Bad snap, bad fumble on third-and-short for N.C. State. To win these kinds of games, you’ve gotta have some breaks.

• Three-and-out deep in Wake Forest’s territory, was doomed after the review of Washington’s non-catch on the sideline.

• Third-and-4, Gallaspy breaks off a 15-yard run. We’re about midway through the third quarter, and that’s N.C. State’s last run of more than 7 yards. Not sure it’s possible to say more about the heart and effort shown by Wake Forest’s defense, on a short week, against a stout offensive line, to dig deep and put up this kind of performance.

• Remember what I said about breaks going your way? Cary Angeline’s drop in the end zone probably the most-significant one. Bassey had good coverage until he slipped.

• OK, buckle up.

• Surratt’s one-handed catch, I mean, that’s just an incredible throw and catch. Protection was good, too. This play, and the next one, changed the game. They also sucked the life out of the stadium.

• You still can’t single-cover Alex Bachman.

• Ryan Smenda Jr. with a TFL. He bounced back from the Syracuse game with a good performance here, had five tackles.

• I saw on OGB that someone asked if Allen played at all in the second half. I can confirm, he did.

• Creed II is going to be awesome. Guaranteed.

• Henderson tackled well all night, except for Emezie’s touchdown to start the fourth quarter. You know, it’s interesting — Wake Forest’s two biggest defensive plays of the fourth quarter were fourth-and-3 stops with Henderson and Taylor making huge plays. And they started the fourth quarter giving up the touchdown that put the Deacons down 10.

• Consider me not a fan of emptying the backfield on third-and-1. But, it worked.

• That part about Henderson and Taylor recovering after the touchdown? The offense’s worst three plays of the night might have all been in a row on the ensuing possession. And then the next two drives are touchdowns that win the game.

• I’d rather have Will Grier on my NFL team than Finley, but maybe that’s just me.

• Dion Bergan with a TFL. Really a nice play for a freshman who seems to be steadily improving throughout the year.

• Boogie Basham’s return really helped Wake Forest’s defense win the line of scrimmage. Five tackles, one TFL for him.

• Incredible fourth-down PBU by Henderson. He was beat, but disrupted it just enough. Think he had a similar play in the first half. The highlight of his career night.

• Newman is comfortable running the ball and Ruggiero is comfortable calling runs for him, and in this situation — down 10 midway through the fourth quarter — that’s what catches N.C. State’s defense off guard.

• Ah, there’s the second time Newman keeps and should be tackled in the backfield, but turns it into an 11-yard run.

• I didn’t realize how close Dortch’s touchdown catch was to being offensive pass interference on Surratt. But it wasn’t — just really close. Surratt barely, if at all, makes contact with the defender on Dortch. That was all Dortch needed to get separation, and then it’s a perfect throw from Newman.

• “You went and found a reporter who covered (Newman) in high school, looking for a scouting report.” (Hello. Is it me you’re looking for? I can see it in your eyes.) Flemming didn’t remember, in this moment, to tell y’all that Newman’s high school career could be summed up by .500 seasons, bad offensive line play, him playing safety as well as QB and him and his best friend, Daniel Graves, making some of the most incredible plays I ever saw.

• Not Strnad’s best game, statistically. But he drew a key holding penalty there.

• Rodney was getting blocked 15 yards downfield by center Garrett Bradbury, so on the next play he commits the illegal hands to the face penalty.

• Here comes the defensive stand: First play, TFL by Yarbary, which is a great reward for a game of tough work by him. And Glenn with a TFL, which is the most-important play of his night. He just stayed home. That’s film study and discipline. Crossing patter to Meyers, Strnad makes a sure-tackle. They get 11, so it’s fourth-and-3, and this is the game for Wake Forest. Off-target throw by Finley, good coverage — borderline pass interference, maybe, by Taylor.

• Let’s go play-by-play for the next eight plays:

• Quick out to Surratt, nice throw and catch, 5 yards.

• Carney making protection calls.

• Another blitz, another good throw and catch to Surratt for 6 yards.

• An absolute dart to Dortch, in his comfort zone, 22 yards.

• Incomplete to the sideline, high for Surratt. I’m OK with that throw, put it just a little out of reach.

• Wake Forest comes out in trips left, a little different, but there’s nothing there. Newman wanted to pull the trigger, but held off. Sometimes it’s not just the good plays you make, but the bad plays you avoid making. I think John Wolford would approve that message.

• That’s a high-level throw, with pressure in his face, by Newman to Dortch on third-and-10 for 15 yards.

• That’s the greatest non-catch of Surratt’s life. Tipped ball, and I do think Surratt caught it. One of those plays that, if the call on the field is catch, it’s upheld. Problem is, Wake Forest didn’t have any timeouts and it’d be at about the 24-yard line, with 27 seconds left. That’s in Sciba’s range, but it’s a dicey clock situation.

• Pretty sure that’s Traveon Redd’s dad calling “one play, we only need one play.” And then …

• Freudenthal dodges the umpire, Bachman lays a block on the safety coming up to make a tackle. The cornerback covering Bachman follows him for too long. Newman got drilled on the play, but said this: “I was on the ground. I mean, I could see Jack just from being on the ground, going in the end zone and everybody going crazy on our sideline. That’s all.”

• Glenn makes the tackle on the kickoff, which seems fitting.

• “Another thing scouts are looking at, can he make this throw.” — Yeah, I mean, I’m sure they want to know if Finley can make a Hail Mary throw with four seconds left, down four.

• Washington with the interception. Just an incredible team performance, right down to a receiver making a game-sealing interception.

• Newman drops a “you always want to say, ‘Remember November.’ I’ll ask him this week if he’s seen V for Vendetta or knows of Guy Fawkes.

• And that’ll do it. Newman caps his legendary night with a well-spoken interview live on SportsCenter. He’s come a long way, and there’s still a long way to go for the Deacons.

Keep up with all the latest on Wake Forest athletics, from analysis to features and lots more Deacons news you won’t find anywhere else.

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