I’m sure that come Thursday night/Friday morning, Russell Wilson and State’s offense will fill up a lot of message board posts (regardless of the results on the field). And that’s OK, but let’s not forget about the poor performances from State’s defense last year. Ken Tysiac summarized the 2007 defense several weeks ago (and I don’t think that we talked about it here).
Nobody in the ACC forced fewer turnovers last season than N.C. State’s 16.
The Wolfpack ranked last in the ACC in rushing defense and 11th in total defense and scoring defense.
Several times last year, I thought that State’s defense was the poorest we’ve seen since 2003. So I compiled the key defense stats since 2003 to document the defensive decline:
One could make an argument that last year’s defense was not quite as bad as 2003. But before you take too much solace in that thought, let’s look at a few more things.
One of the things that is always important when looking at rankings is perspective…or the big picture. Obviously, one’s defensive rankings will be based on two things….the players on your defense and the players on their offense. So here is a compilation of the Div 1A offenses that State faced those two years:
Imagine what State’s defensive rankings would have been if they had to face the 2003 offenses…or just be glad that no one is going to force us to play that mental game (or would it be torture?).
Another key difference between 2007 and 2003, was that in 2003 State’s young DL had a lot of on-the-job training that year. I don’t think that any State fan doubted that the 2004 and 2005 offense would be a lot better…but only the most optimistic would have ever predicted how good they would be or how quickly they would develop into one of the top defenses in the country.
However, the 2007 defense was not filled with young players. Here’s CFN’s summary:
There are plenty of holes to plug on a defense that ranked No. 11 in the ACC and ran out of gas in November. The casualties are everywhere, hindering the staff’s quest to become more physical in run defense and generate a greater number of takeaways. While the Pack will be challenged by the departures of five key members of the front seven, it gets back DE Willie Young and DT Alan-Michael Cash, a pair of playmakers with all-conference skills. Graduation was particularly harsh on the linebackers, which lose all three starters and three of the team’s top five tacklers
Bottom line: State’s defense needs a lot of improvement and it may not come this year. The only bright spot that I can think of is that the ACC is filled with bad offenses (just look up at last year’s numbers) so there is always a chance that someone else’s offense will contribute to a State victory. (It’s not like State’s offense has been stingy with opposing defenses over the last several years.)
If I sound depressed or pessimistic, I’m not. I expect that TOB and his staff will turn State into a respectable program…I’m just not expecting it this year. But I would be happy to be proven wrong.
So on the opening week of college football, let’s summarize State’s national rankings in the key offensive and defensive categories from 2007:
When do you think that TOB and his staff first figured out how much work they had in front of them in Raleigh?