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Best D-Line in Pack History - 2005 vs 2017, Week 3 Comparison

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2017 finally wins a week?

NCAA Football: Furman at North Carolina State
D-Line has its first multi-sack game
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not that I want 2017 to win because I like them better. Both lines are part of our family. It would be like me rooting for my favorite aunt to beat my favorite uncle in poker – I couldn’t do it with a clear conscience. I simply want the 2017 line to win, because if they do, it would mean a special season. If they could surpass 2005, as well as live up to its immense potential, we could stymie all but the very best offenses . . . if our offense continues to play well, it could mean a 9-10 win season.

2017 D-Line played a solid game, but uninspiring . . . they showed flashes . . . but not consistency . . . I just know they can do better . . . but I want to see it on the field.

NOTE: After last week’s article, we had an educational discussion in the comments section on statistical definitions (e.g., does a sack also count for a tackle and a tackle for loss). I pull the data from box scores, and I double-checked the figures – the data provided so far is correct. Unless I have miscalculated, or I used an inaccurate box score, or stat definitions have evolved over time, the information is historically exact, although there may be room for debate on the decisions of the official scorers.

Here are the individual stats from Week 3:

Best D-Line Week 3 Individual

2005 Solo Assists Total TFL Sacks
2005 Solo Assists Total TFL Sacks
Williams 2 3 5 1.5 1.0
Lawson 2 5 7 3.0 2.5
Tyler 3 2 5 2.0 0.0
McCargo 0 4 4 1.0 0.5
Pressley 1 5 6 1.0 0.0
TOTAL 8 19 27 8.5 4.0
2017 Solo Assists Total TFL Sacks
Chubb 0 2 2 0.5 0.5
Street 3 2 5 2.0 0.0
Hill 3 3 6 0.0 0.0
Jones 4 3 7 0.5 0.5
Bryant 0 0 0 0.0 0.0
Roseboro 3 6 9 0.5 2.0
TOTAL 13 16 29 3.5 3.0

The 2005 D-Line had a monster game, spending a significant amount of disruptive time in the North Carolina backfield. They tallied an incredible 8.5 TFLs and 4.0 sacks.

Both teams amassed a similar amount of tackles (2017 had only two more). However, with 2005 tallying five more TFLs and one more sack, they win the statistical battle on this front hands down.

Team Stats, Week 3:

Best D-Line Week 3 Team

STAT 2005 2017
STAT 2005 2017
Rushes 49 47
Yards 144 133
YPC 2.94 2.83
Rush TDs 1 0

I’ll give the nod here to 2017, as they held an option team to less YPC than the 2005 line did against a pro-style offense. Plus, 2017 did not yield a rushing TD.

Furthermore, at the end of the day, Ws count the most – 2017 won; 2005 lost. The 2005 supporters can correctly claim strength of opponent as a key contributor to the loss, as we all probably would agree that the 2005 Tar Heels were a stronger team than the 2017 Paladins. However, the 0-2 Tar Heels came into Carter-Finley to win by a touchdown, ultimately finishing out of the bowl picture with a 5-6 record – shame on us for letting that one get away.

Cumulative Totals through Week 3:

Best D-Line Week 3 Cumulative

2005 Wk1 Wk2 Wk3 TOTAL
2005 Wk1 Wk2 Wk3 TOTAL
Solo Tkl 7 2 8 17
Assist Tkl 15 5 19 39
Total Tkl 22 7 27 56
TFL 3.0 5.0 8.5 16.5
Sacks 1.0 0.0 4.0 5.0
Rushes 41 31 49 121
Yards 124 48 144 316
YPC 3.02 1.55 2.94 2.61
Rush TDs 1 0 1 2
2017 Wk1 Wk2 Wk3 TOTAL
Solo Tkl 3 9 13 25
Assist Tkl 9 4 16 29
Total Tkl 12 13 29 54
TFL 3.5 3 3.5 10.0
Sacks 0.0 1.0 3.0 4.0
Rushes 21 25 47 93
Yards 61 101 133 295
YPC 2.90 4.04 2.83 3.17
Rush TDs 1 0 0 1

Regarding the cumulative results through Week 3, the 2005 D-line leads in every statistical category except Rushing TDs Allowed.

Summary

As I have ruminated over the data points, my first impulse to give the 2005 team this week’s victory has gradually moved towards giving the 2017 D-Line the edge. The obvious superior individual results of the 2005 performance made me initially determine them the “no-brainer” winner. But on further consideration, I’m not so sure.

2017 held an option team to only 2.83 YPC, while not giving up a rushing TD, which the 2005 line did (defense is about not giving up scores, right?) . . . and the 2017 team won the game while the 2005 team didn’t (in the end, it is about winning, right?).

In my opinion, what tips the scales towards 2017 goes back to the whole “perception/expectation” thing again. The 2005 team was playing at home against our 0-2 arch-rival Tar Heels and blew a 24-14 third-quarter lead . . . when you have a historically stout defense, playing at home against your winless rivals with a 10-point lead in the second half, you simply have to finish.

I realize the whole “perception/expectation” thing works both ways . . . and as yet, I don’t think 2017 has come close by any standard to living up to its lofty potential. They have been decent, but not spectacular – and that against inferior opposition.

But 2017 did win this week’s game, while 2005 (Bowl Team) lost a game to Carolina (not a Bowl Team) that it should have won (and cost me a year’s worth of bragging rights that I clearly should have had at my disposal) – an unforgivable sin . . . and why I award 2017 this week’s victory.