Week Two By The Numbers

Box Score

Plays
Total Yds
Yds/Play
Yds/Carry*
Yds/PassAtt
NCSU
67
424
6.3
4.2
7.7
Wake
70
438
6.3
3.8
9.4

(Yds/carry stats are calculated after removing sacks from the equation.)

That's an ugly yards per pass attempt number for State's defense, though by the sound of things Tanner Price had plenty of time to throw the ball on many occasions, so it's not all that surprising. Last season, State allowed 9+ yards per attempt twice.

Let's talk a bit about that decision to go for it on 4th-and-10. A decision that went so atypically perfect that it demanded this sort of reaction to it:

Homerspin3_medium

If I'd been watching live and had enough room, that's what I wouldn've ended up doing for sure. Tom O'Brien going for it from his own 37 yard line after three consecutive incomplete passes. TJ Graham several yards ahead of the closest coverage. TJ Graham not dropping the ball. This is all insane and I have trouble believing any of it really happened. Too bad it didn't become a defining play in a great comeback win.

I like to beat people over the head with my "process before outcome" mantra, so I'm going to forget about the end result for a second and look at the circumstances surrounding the decision to go for it. The color analyst didn't care for it, and I suspect the vast majority of coaches would punt there. Talking yourself into the conservative play is easy enough: the team had timeouts and more than five minutes to work with, and if they could pin Wake deep and force a three-and-out, State could've been looking at a fresh set of downs around midfield without having lost much time.

Problem then is the team has to go the rest of the way without any timeouts, meaning they'd most likely have to recover an onside kick to have a shot at equalizing, and that is a scenario to avoided if at all possible. By going for it I think you create more plausible routes to victory because you can save timeouts for your defense, and in many cases you can kick it deep after the first score and play for a three-and-out. Which we were able to do thanks the insta-score.

 

 

Coaches punt too often when they're down multiple scores with under 10 minutes left in the game; it's like some guys just don't feel that sense of urgency and desperation until it gets really late. It bothers me every time I see it because it feels like a give-up move. I appreciate that TOB didn't go that route, though it's still surprising. The whole situation ended up working out as perfectly as possible, too: not only did we convert the down but we got a TD right there, which saved all sorts of time. Wake went three-and-out and we didn't even have to use any timeouts in the process. NC State had the ball back with timeouts and three minutes and change to work with. Fantastic result, just didn't capitalize. If George Bryan doesn't let a 3rd down pass slip through his hands, who knows...

Anyway, good call, coach. Almost made you look like a genius.

[Edit: I should add here that the decision to kick it in a 4th-and-6 situation with about 8:40 left was as bad as the later decision was good. Thanks to Austin for pointing that one out.]

Targets in week two:

vs. Wake Targets Receptions
Graham 9 6
Palmer 9 7
Bryan
5 3
J. Smith
4 2
C. Underwood
4 1
Washington
2 2
Payton
2 1
Howard
2 1
B. Underwood
1 1
Carter
1 0
R. Smith
1 0


Tobais Palmer responded to the first start of his career with a breakout performance, leading the team in both receptions and receiving yards. Through two games, he's been targeted 13 times by Mike Glennon, which is second only to T.J. Graham's 14 targets.

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