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NC State's Inability To Score Touchdowns Ruining Season

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Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

After nine games, NC State ranks 124th in the FBS in red zone touchdown conversion rate. Above only UConn, which also is trudging through the season without a quarterback. I believe there are national awards associated with this particular statistical category, but the names of them are escaping me right now.

I'm not sure anything better tells the story of State's 2013 season than that RZ touchdown percentage. It's a limited gauge of an offense, but in this case it works just fine. The team has had some windows here and there to potentially turn games decisively, or at least alter their direction significantly, and they simply haven't been able to make the plays necessary. Bad execution is a major reason why this season went from potentially (encouragingly!) mediocre to terrible.

So this is where we are right now:

In ACC Games Yds/Play Opponent Yds/Play
2012 5.3 5.9
2013 4.7 6.1

I was surprised, but you don't have to go back far to find an offense that was as bad, on a per-play basis, as this year's unit. The 2011 team was a shade worse, but the defense was considerably better. That Wolfpack team also converted red zone opportunities into TDs at a significantly higher rate, and its turnover margin (+14) was way better than State's this year (-1).

When you have a small margin for error, you gotta help yourself in the most ruthlessly opportunistic fashion possible. We've been fortunate enough to do that in the past, as those stats from 2011 illustrate. It's just not happening this year.