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NC State football stats check: Offense holding in top 25; defense, well ...

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Grant Halverson

When I looked at NC State's offense a couple of weeks ago, the statistical indicators were positive, with both traditional and advanced stats showing significant improvement. Two more games have passed, including what was likely State's toughest opponent of the season, and on paper, the offense is no worse for wear.

The Pack's attack, no longer toothless (toothfull? toothy? bitey?), remains in the top 25 overall according to S&P+, while ranking among the top 10 nationally in several offensive subcategories (those are all here). State also ranks in the top 25 in total offense and yards per play.

The defensive numbers are not nearly as kind, not surprisingly.

Overall, the advanced statistics have the Wolfpack pegged as somewhere between the 40th- and 50th-best team in the country.

2014 National Ranks Off. S&P+ Def. S&P+ Overall S&P+ FEI F/+
NC State 24 77 43 50 48

Considering that State finished 2013 ranked in the 80s and 90s overall, depending on the metric, a move into the top 50 is some impressive work. Shoot, top-50 teams often end up going to bowl games and such!

These metrics show the Pack's defense essentially treading water in 2014--it is a smidge worse in some areas than it was last season--which means that the overall improvement is due largely to the offense, and to a lesser extent, the special teams unit.

NC State ranks 16th in special teams efficiency so far, up from 68th in 2013. The improvement appears tied to the Pack's kick coverage, on both kickoffs and punts; the team ranks 23rd in kickoff efficiency and second in punting efficiency. Neither of those things were strengths for the 2013 squad.

So the offense and special teams have combined to take NC State from dreadful to decent, and if they remain strengths the rest of the way, they should get the Wolfpack to the postseason. Now if we could just do something about the defense...