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NC State and fourth down attempt rates in 2022

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 27 Virginia Tech at NC State Photo by Charles Brock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week, Bill Connelly wrote a fun piece on fourth down attempt rate and profit in college football, with profit being the difference in points scored on drives with a fourth down conversion and points surrendered on drives with a turnover on downs.

A dozen teams averaged at least five points of profit per game last season, with West Virginia topping the country at +8.9. The majority were well above average in terms of fourth down attempt rate.

NC State was not very aggressive on fourth downs last season, as you know: the Wolfpack ranked just 114th in fourth down attempt rate (18.6%). It was also the only team in the country with a net profit of ... 0.0 points per game. So Dave Doeren’s conservative bent didn’t really hurt State on the scoreboard, generally speaking.

And there were several factors involved in the low attempt rate: Devin Leary’s injury, the quality of State’s defense, and Christopher Dunn. All three were compelling reasons for Doeren not to take many risks. I’m sure a more trustworthy offense, combined with a flimsy kicking situation, for example, would have raised that go rate.

I tend to think that having a bad offense and a good defense is an argument for being more aggressive and not less, but Dave and I are just gonna have to agree to disagree on that one.