N.C. State (3-1, 1-0 ACC) fans expressed mixed reactions online after the team’s 24-21 victory against Virginia (0-4, 0-1 ACC), but many shared concerns about the offense. Their opinions seemed more consistent than the play itself.
“I’m bad at taking wins when the offense doesn’t do their job,” quarterback Brennan Armstrong said Friday night. “You start with an ACC win on the road, it’s a great thing. It’s hard to do, but we’ve got to get better as an offense.”
The performance wasn’t terrible on the surface. There were several positives: The Pack put up more than 300 yards, went 3-for-3 in the red zone and averaged more yards per carry than the Cavaliers.
Freshman receiver Kevin “K.C.” Concepcion finished with a career-high 116 yards and two touchdowns, scoring both passing TDs.
N.C. State, however, didn’t capitalize on two interceptions. The team went 1-for-4 on third and long, and converted 1-of-5 rushing attempts of two yards or fewer. Its offensive success rate finished at 34. Rates of 40 or less are considered below average.
The offensive success rate measures the amount of yardage gained based on the down. A play is successful if a team records 50% of yards required to move the chains on first down, 70% of yards to gain on second down and 100% of yards on third or fourth down.
UVA forced third down 14 times, with the Wolfpack converting six times.
Additionally, the Pack’s offensive line allowed three sacks and two QB hurries on Armstrong. One sack — for a loss of 11 — came in the third quarter and forced punter Caden Noonkester to kick from the end zone.
Opponents have sacked Armstrong five times and hurried him 12 — officially. He’s scrambled plenty of times and dealt with broken pockets.
“I feel like we didn’t stay efficient on first and second down,” Armstrong said. “Then, they got to their funky stuff and they brought the pressure and we were getting hit.”
Head coach Dave Doeren said he’s “concerned about everything all the time,” but doesn’t feel like the offensive line is struggling with pass protection, even though the Cavaliers induced multiple instances of contact on Armstrong.
College football fans, however, have described the O-line as “mid,” “trash can juice” and unable to “push around a (expletive) shopping cart.”
Through three games against FBS opponents, N.C. State has scored just 24 points in each contest.
“Overall, I think we did OK. Could we be better? Yeah, but it wasn’t an issue all night,” Doeren said after the UVA win. “I didn’t feel like he was being rushed a ton. I’m more concerned with other things, to be honest with you.”
Doeren also wants to see a narrower playbook, noting offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s scheme includes a lot of parts. A lot of guys with limited playing time are trying to adjust to a system with more selections than might be necessary at this point.
The team would like a better run game. The Pack stood at No. 66 in the nation at 4.24 yards per carry through Friday night’s games. Part of that is injuries, but N.C. State could have better success if it has fewer breakdowns up front and more condensed play calling options.
“We have a lot of plays,” Doeren said. “Being able to just narrow down the book a little bit, get better at some things instead of doing so many things.”
The Wolfpack looks to make quick improvements before another fast turnaround next weekend, when it hosts Louisville at Carter-Finley Stadium