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NC State’s consistent red zone sputtering finally caught up to it

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There was always a good chance something like last night would happen eventually.

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

NC State’s offense has had 48 trips to the red zone this season, and its managed to score touchdowns on 26 of those trips. That’s a touchdown percentage of 54.2, which ranks 106th in FBS. Not ideal! State’s been settling for far too many field goals, many of them inside the 10, which is extra frustrating.

Here’s a breakdown by game of red zone field goal tries by distance and number (parentheses means the kick was good):

James Madison: (25)
Georgia State: (25) (28)
Marshall: (30) (32) (26) 31
UVA: (34)
BC: 19
Clemson: none
Syracuse: (25) (29)
FSU: (21) (26) (31)
Wake: (29) (23) (23)

On the bright side, Chris Dunn has been reliable on these short-distance kicks, which is not something State’s been able to count on much lately. He’s a perfect 11-11 this year in the 20-29 range. So hey, good job, son!

The problem is just the sheer number of attempts—at least two of them in five of nine games this season. That’s a lot of points left on the table, and in the case of the Wake Forest contest, those were points that would have flipped the outcome.

There have been times where NC State has executed poorly—see a couple of key dropped throws last night—and there have been times when Eli Drinkwitz’s thought process has been impressively convoluted. That combination gives you a painfully unreliable offense in short-field situations, and last night in particular, it hurt badly.