I'm tempted to bump the offense up a letter grade simply because Russell Wilson had a couple long runs that were a sight for sore eyes. It's always more exciting when he uses his legs like that, and I wish he would more often. He set a new career high with 17 carries and ran for 60+ yards for the first time since the Pittsburgh game last season.
State ran the ball 53 times, lessening the load on Russell Wilson--or at least the load on his arm. Twenty-three of 32 first down plays were runs, and about a third of those could be deemed successes. I got a bad case of running back draw fatigue, but I can't complain too much; my objection had less to do with our effectiveness on those plays than it did with the fact that run plays make me sleepy.
Overall, the Pack's 4.5 yard-per-play output stands as its second-worst performance of the season. Really, though, what we saw was one dreadful half (3.5 YPP in the first) and one more typical half (5.2 YPP in the second). Four-point-five still beats the 4.3 that FSU's defense allows on average.
And while the output was modest, the offense deserves a lot of credit for its second half performance. Three methodical 13-play drives out of four second-half possessions, two of which resulted in a touchdown. (The third would have as well if not for Russell's ill-timed INT.) The Pack held the ball for more than 20 minutes in the half, those long drives contributing to low possession totals for both teams--just four drives apiece.
NC State scored three touchdowns with its four drives; Florida State, on the other hand, fumbled the ball away twice and punted once.
Again it's hard to ding the defense too much because again they delivered--well, no that's not the right word. They showed more of the ruthless opportunism we've seen throughout the year? Ponder's game-ending fumble was an unforced error, but hey, we were there to jump on it.
The second half was not good--Florida State averaged almost six yards per snap but tripped over itself and could not efficiently translate the yardage into points. The last drive was not good--god am I tired of watching opponents slice through butter in the final three minutes.
We've had our differences, special teams, there's no question about that. But you were generally outstanding in you inconspicuousness on Thursday, and that's all we can ask for. Florida State has dangerous kick returners, and aside from one long punt return after a 59-yard kick, they didn't find much traction. I think everyone was just shocked that a punt went almost sixty yards without bouncing for a third of that distance.
The Noles averaged just 16.8 yards per kickoff return, Cjazkowski's kicks landed around the four on average, and we netted nearly 50 yards per kickoff. I'll take that every week.