When Russell Wilson brings his A-game, this part is pretty easy. We had some protection issues early on--a miscommunication and/or botched assignment resulted in a linebacker coming untouched from the blind side--and we bogged down in the red zone a few times. But when you average 6.5 yards per snap, not to mention beat a conference foe by three scores, it's quibbling to point out those negatives.
Coming into the game, Georgia Tech's defense hadn't allowed more than 352 total yards in a game. None of their opponents had the kind of success through the air that we did, and if I recall correctly, we ran the ball pretty well, too.
One of the things that I didn't really consider heading into Saturday's game was Nate Irving's move to middle linebacker and how that might affect our defensive fortunes against an option offense. Nate finished the game with 16 tackes, 4.5 of them for a loss, including two sacks. Terrell Manning added seven tackles and a TFL.
Looking at this side of the ball more generally, the defense appeared prepared and well-coached on Saturday. This is both foreign and terrifying. Georgia Tech was forced to punt on three of its first five possessions--State's defense had them in 3rd-and-long situations each time. We fell on a couple of fumbles when those opportunities presented themselves, for the most part we didn't fall victim to Tech's play-action passes, and we capitalized on their must-throw situations late in the fourth quarter. You know, like a good defense does. There are a lot of applause-worthy stats in the box score, but I think Tech's unusually low 3rd down conversion percentage (4-14) sits at the top of the list. (When asked to comment, Jon Tenuta responded, "that's fuckdamn right." He then blindsided an oblivious photographer.)
The Jackets averaged 5.5 yards per play, but, in context, that's actually great work by NC State's defense. They've averaged 6+ yards per snap every season under Paul Johnson, and this is the first time in 2010 that they've been held under 6 yds/play.
Jeff Ruiz was relieved of his punting duties, thus preserving my Lock Of The Week.
Or was that my Shoe-In Of The Week?
Hell, I can't remember. But I was right by default. Feels great, it really does.
On the one hand, we blocked a punt that directly resulted in a touchdown, and we didn't even need fancy shoes to do it. On the other hand, Josh Czajkowski missed a couple of chip-shot field goals, which negatively affected my blood pressure. For now, I'm chalking that up as a fluke. He's been money from that distance over the course of his career.
I thought our kickoff coverage was poor, at least when Taylor Gentry wasn't involved. Georgia Tech averaged about 25 yards per return.
Whatever. Everyone's being graded on a 4-0 curve this week. B+.