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How good is NC State's offense?

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

I don't think anybody would doubt that NC State's offense is improved in 2014--a steady hand at QB sure does wonders, huh--but it's still difficult to estimate just how much better given the slate of opponents the Wolfpack has seen thus far.

As of now, the raw stats show significant improvement in the major categories:

NCSU Offense Yds/Play (Nat'l Rank) Yds/Rush
Yds/Pass Att
Total Offense
2013 5.1 (100)
3.8 (96)
6.8 (81)
403.5 (71)
2014 6.8 (32)
5.8 (23)
8.0 (52)
516.0 (26)

State has also been drastically better in the red zone, scoring touchdowns more than 80% of the time, which is almost double the team's 2013 rate. The 2014 Wolfpack also is averaging almost 17 more points per game.

Football Outsiders' advanced numbers actually paint an even more encouraging picture than the traditional stats do--the Wolfpack is No. 17 in the early S&P+ overall offensive rankings, and ranks among the top 20 in several other categories. State is sixth in Success Rate at 52.1%, which is especially impressive. Success Rate defined:

A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.

So a little over half of NC State's plays from scrimmage have been successful ones by this definition. That's how you keep the chains moving. That rate isn't likely to hold in the top 10 all season, though it is a sign that this team has found some of the down-to-down consistency it sorely lacked in 2013.

The Wolfpack's overall offensive S&P+ figure is adjusted for schedule strength, but I don't think any of the other numbers are, which still leaves us with a lot to be uncertain about. Brissett obviously is making a significant difference, while the offense in general looks more sure-footed in its second go-round with Dave Doeren's system.

Is it possible that State has a top-25 offense, as some standard and advanced statistics suggest early? Top 35? Top 50? Fortunately (and terrifyingly), conference play is right around the corner to help us sort this out. There will be a slide to some degree, but this looks like a unit that should hold up pretty well in ACC games. Although it's not going to be the best offense in the league, I'd say a finish in the top half is doable (pending the injury-related whims of the football gods, of course).