NC State’s defense has done a pretty good job of getting off the field this season. How good? The Wolfpack ranks fifth nationally in stop rate, which is the percentage of defensive drives that end in either a punt, turnover, or turnover on downs. That helps explain why State ranks sixth nationally in scoring defense, which even includes that special teams score by Mississippi State. (Maybe they’ll fix this stat one day.)
[Tony] Gibson’s group ranks No. 17 nationally in yards per play but has done an excellent job when it comes to getting stops. They’re the best in the country on third down (25.3 percent conversion rate), No. 5 in points per drive (1.04) and they’re forcing three-and-outs on nearly half of all drives.
NC State went from below average in stop rate in 2020 (71st) to elite in that metric halfway through 2021, which is an incredible leap. The Wolfpack was bound to be better defensively this season with all of the talent returning, but I’m not sure anyone envisioned they could be quite this good.
For once, State’s injury luck hasn’t been that bad, and it’s had the depth necessary to compensate for the players who have gone done, which definitely is not an every-year thing. Isaiah Moore’s been great, the defensive front has stifled the ground game, and the secondary has been really sound. This defense has a good mix of both star quality and depth, and it shows.
If they keep playing like this, NC State’s gonna have a chance in every game the rest of the way.