It was only a few weeks ago that it seemed as though NC State’s Offensive Co-ordinator, Marc Trestman, was really coming into his own as a play caller and leader of the Wolfpack’s offense. We talked about it in this great entry.
But it doesn’t take long for that tune to change after a couple of weeks of horrendous offensive output against two poor defenses.
To be clear – we aren’t looking to conentrate undue amounts of criticism on Trestman because of just a couple of tough performances. Hell, in light of the fact that just a couple of weeks ago we were highlighting Trestman’s successes, then I’d say that we are pretty consistent in our conviction to talk about whatever the relevant topics of the football team are whenever they arise. We can’t help what reality; we can only discuss and analyze reality.
With ^this in mind, three very interesting related items popped up on our radar today that deserve note today.
(1) First is Section Six’s statistical analysis that “Trestman’s system peaked in its very first game”. I have often discussed with friends that I thought that the mix of offensive execution and play calling was fantastic in last year’s home opener vs Virginia Tech.
The Pack’s first possession of the game–and Trestman’s first series calling plays in college–was a fantastic 14 play, 83 yard drive that ate up six minutes and was capped by a 25-yard Darrell Blackman touchdown run. Though we ended up losing, I remember being excited about the offense’s marked improvement.
I spent the rest of 2005 wondering where that offense went. Now we’re two-thirds through 2006 and I’m still wondering.
But, take a look at the yardage numbers from the first few games of last year compared to the last thirteen games since Andre Brown had a career day against C-USA’s Southern Miss sqaud last year. In the 18 games that have followed Trestman’s first two games last year vs Virginia Tech and Eastern Kentucky, the Wolfpack has:
* gained over 350 yards only once (Andre Brown’s big performance vs So Miss).
* gained 300 or fewer yards in 12 of the last 18 games
* scored only three points in the first quarter of the past seven games.
* failed to score more than 24 points in EVERY game
(2) A poster on Pack Pride’s message boards takes ^Section Six’s analysis a step further and did an analysis of total points scored by the Wolfpack through 8 games.
NC State has scored only 148 points through 8 games this season. Over the last 20 years NC State has only ONCE scored less points through eight games than have been scored this season. That was the 4-7 season in 1987 when the Pack was shut-out twice and managed only three points against Wake Foresta 3rd. 7 of the 20 seasons have seen the Wolfpack fail to score at least 200 points at this point of the season – 2 of those 7 occurences have been turned-in by Marc Trestman.
(3) The post-game “Good & the Bad” article at Pack Pride is really good this week. The following quote is very insightful into the conversation about Trestman and what is wrong with the Wolfpack’s offense. We haven’t seen any of this – or any of the statistical information – in the mass media.
No Identity: Watch teams across college football and you generally know what they are going to do on offense… you get a feel for their offensive philosophy.
Wake Forest is going to run the ball out of a spread formation, using misdirection, reverses, and counters… but you can count on them to continue running the football. BC is going to play smashmouth football and come at you with playaction. UVA, as mentioned early, will use their athletic offensive line to run stretches, screens, and bootleg leads. Clemson is going to pound away with a strong offensive line and C.J. Spiller and James Davis. The question is, what is NC State’s identity?
I think this remains a question because of offensive coordinator Marc Trestman and his west coast offense that is being instilled from his NFL background. Teams like UVA, Wake, and BC almost appear too simplistic on offense, however they are effective because they know exactly what they are going to do and practice, practice, practice those same formations every day of the week. With NC State, you never know if they are going to come out in five-wides or three-wides, the power-I or split backs, shotgun with two tight ends or shotgun with two tailbacks… you get the idea. NC State appears to be TOO “multiple” on offense.
Realistically, can that offensive unit practice sufficiently ALL of those different formations or packages in practice and be expected to operate flawlessly without mistakes on Saturdays? College football isn’t the NFL. You don’t get to practice plays eight hours a day and work on various formations throughout the week because the NCAA limits practice time. This could be an underlying factor in NC State’s consistent problems with missed assignments, illegal formations, and illegal shifts on offense.
NC State needs to find that identity. They need to find out what they really want to do on offense and base everything else off of it. Do they want to go to a no-huddle offense with Daniel Evans and keep him comfortable while using an emerging group of wideouts? Do they want to run, run, and run the ball with their two tailbacks like Clemson does each week?
Whatever it is, they need to find it because as the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and maybe there just isn’t enough time to practice and perfect everything NC State is currently doing on offense.