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Fun with ugly numbers: Average points scored per drive

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

NC State's offense declined in most major categories last season--points per game, yards per play, yards per pass attempt, red zone efficiency, etc. Dave Doeren was able to coax some extra life out of the ground game but not nearly enough to make a real difference.

Yet another way of capturing the overall decline is by looking at average points scored per drive, which you can see below. All stats are courtesy of bcftoys.com.

PPD (Nat'l rank) PPLD (Nat'l rank) PPMD (Nat'l rank) PPSD (Nat'l rank)
2010 2.18 (54) 1.59 (53) 1.94 (65) 4.30 (45)
2011 2.01 (62) 1.00 (89) 1.81 (68) 4.37 (27)
2012 1.68 (95) 0.66 (112) 1.69 (85) 4.32 (41)
2013 1.41 (111) 1.14 (86) 1.30 (111) 3.09 (95)


PPD = points per drive
PPLD = points per drive on drives starting inside own 20
PPMD = points per drive on drives starting between own 20 and midfield
PPSD = points per drive on drives starting in opponent territory

State's offense has been in steady decline since Russell Wilson's*** final season with the Wolfpack, bottoming out at 111th in points per drive last year, ahead of only a handful of power-conference schools (Wake, UVA, Cal, Purdue, Kansas).

(***At Wisconsin in 2011, Wilson led the Badgers to the No. 1 ranking in three of the four PPD categories. They averaged 7.0 points on drives starting on the opposition's side of the 50. I'm sorry I brought this up.)

The glaring drop from '12 to '13 was on drives that began on the opponent's side of the field. If the offenses in the years immediately preceding weren't good in general, they were at least far more opportunistic, converting those short-field situations into more points than your average FBS team.

Can Doeren and company, along with Jacoby Brissett, figure out a way to restore some of that opportunism? That would be one small step back toward respectability.

All of the per-drive stats are to some degree affected by red zone efficiency, which was a significant problem for the Pack in Doeren's first year. The team managed just 17 touchdowns in 39 opportunities, the lowest TD% in at least the last seven seasons. You have to go back to 2007 to find a TD rate under 50%.

It's difficult to imagine the overall offensive picture looking worse in 2014, which is the beneficial thing about coming off an absolutely dreadful year--the pull toward the middle of the pack is working in your favor.

With Brissett taking over, NC State should see improvements in its third- and fourth-down conversion rates, which will translate into more drive-to-drive consistency and probably more success in the red zone as well. Question's just how much more effective will they manage to be?