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Has N.C. State Upped the Tempo Under Dave Doeren?

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Whoa there, slow that down a bit. Whaddaya think this is, a TOB offense?
Whoa there, slow that down a bit. Whaddaya think this is, a TOB offense?
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

In the regimes that followed the fun and gun of Les Robinson (minus the fun of, you know, actually winning), it was an annual rite of passage for Pack hoops coaches to wax poetic in the offseason about upping the tempo only to do no such thing once the season rolled around. That finally changed when Mark Gottfried came aboard and transitioned the Pack into a transition team. State has been among the top 25% in terms of adjusted pace over the past two seasons, won a combined 48 games, and made two NCAA tournaments.

The new football regime promised the same: increased tempo and increased success on the field. Just five games in to their tenure, it is far too early to pass judgment, but, so far, they have failed to deliver.

In terms of plays per game, the Pack have been one of the faster teams in the ACC, though they lag well behind Clemson, the league's fastest unit. Virginia, shockingly, also gets off nearly five more snaps per game than the Pack.


Plays per Game







N.C. State


Georgia Tech








Virginia Tech


Wake Forest


Florida State






Boston College


While Pack fans can thank their lucky stars that they do not have to watch a team playing at BC's glacial pace, they are actually watching a slower team under CDD than they did under TOB, at least by the unfiltered measure of plays per game. Last year, the Pack snapped the ball 80 times a game, and Bill Connelly's adjusted pace stats had the Pack as the 15th fastest team in football. Northern Illinois, in case you're wondering, was 36th.

Digression alert: TOB's impact is akin to a super-charged hamster wheel, apparently, as what else could possibly explain Virginia's sudden up-tempo yet stationary offense? That guys is always in such a hurry to go nowhere.

Last year's Pack offensive unit ran the ball on just 41.2% of plays from scrimmage, while this year's unit runs 56.7% of the time. Connelly's adjusted pace numbers are not available yet for this season, but filtering for the Pack's run preference (less clock-stopping incompletions) would probably even out the pace. Still, at best, the Pack is about as fast as it was last year. And that's pretty fast, but it's not the hide the women and children OMG revolutionary crazy-ass Baylor shit fast that I'm sure most of us were hoping for.

The question I would love for someone to pose to CDD is why, why good sir, are we not putting the pedal down? It certainly seems as if the Pack play best when they play fast, as evidenced by Saturday's 10-play, 66-yard TD drive that covered just 1:19 of game clock. The other 65 pedestrian-paced plays and 27+ minutes of possession from the Wake game netted the Pack a grand total of six points. The game-winning field goal against Richmond came after the team went 48 yards on seven plays in just 1:26. The former drive came in the two-minute offense just before the half, while the latter came in the two-minute drill at the end of the game. State played fast when it had to and with good results.

But since storming to a 24-0 lead against Louisiana Tech in the opener with none of the first four scoring drives consuming more than 2:33 of game clock, the Pack have largely abandoned a fast-paced attack unless time or score dictates pace out of necessity. Is this a personnel problem due to the Pack's lack of players to fit CDD/Canada's system? Is it a fitness problem? Is it lack of trust in the QB? Do the players not yet have a firm grasp of the offense? Or have we been sold a bill of goods with the up-tempo talk?

The running game has certainly been more creative, diverse, and effective under the new staff, but there is little to no vertical passing game, and the no-huddle does not cause defensive confusion, limit substitutions, or tire opponents when the team mills about for 20 seconds staring at signals from the sidelines after the ball is signaled for play.

N.C. State is averaging a mere 13.5 points per game against BCS competition. If the team is going to get to six-plus wins and a bowl, it will have to take the training wheels off the offense. And if there isn't another gear--if what we've seen is the offense--we're in trouble.