NC State’s offensive front had a tough time protecting Wolfpack quarterbacks against Virginia Tech, allowing the Hokies to pile up six sacks and costing the offense 50 yards in total.
The optimistic view here would be to note that Virginia Tech was playing in its first game with a new defensive coordinator, which means that NC State didn’t have any film on the Hokies’ scheme prior to the game, and that the offensive line was forced into guessing at times. OL coach John Garrison said as much yesterday.
That can’t explain the entirety of the performance—nor does Garrison suggest it should—but I get that was a factor. The question is the extent to which NC State’s problems here can be solved with improved fundamental execution. How much of the struggle was due to fixable lapses, and how much was guys simply getting beaten?
State has got to improve its execution in pass protection substantially this week, because Pittsburgh’s defensive front is better than Virginia Tech’s, and the Panthers have made a living lately in the opposing backfield.
Pitt finished last season second nationally with 51 sacks and tops with 3.9 per game. The Panthers have 17 sacks through the first three games of 2020, including seven in each of their last two—both games against ACC opponents, including a Dwayne Ledford-coached offensive line.
It’s a disruptive front, and it will make plays on Saturday, we can say that much for sure. If NC State can’t at least limit the damage to more manageable numbers than we saw in Blacksburg, State’s going to be doing a lot more punting while another game gets away from it.