After a strong start to the season, NC State's offense has sputtered during ACC play. The Wolfpack is averaging just 13 points in league play after averaging 46.3 points per game against nonconference opponents. Obviously the competition level was going to impact those statistics, as Virginia Tech and Louisville have Top 45 defenses nationally, but no one believed the Wolfpack's offense would struggle to score double-digit points.
Here's a closer look at some of the offensive statistics...
|Third Down Conversions||52.83%||32.26%|
The offense is certainly in a real funk and this week the Wolfpack coaching staff, and the players, needed to figure out a way to put more points on the board. It's not going to be easy moving forward because strong defenses await NC State.
|Category||Wake Forest||Clemson||Boston College||Florida State||Syracuse||North Carolina|
|Scoring Defense||17.0 ppg (No. 20)||16.6 ppg (No. 19)||7.2 ppg (No. 2)||14.0 ppg (No. 10)||24.6 ppg (No. 61)||18.0 ppg (No. 25)|
|Total Defense||296 ypg (No. 15)||288.3 ypg (No. 13)||140.3 ypg (No. 1)||310.2 ypg (No. 22)||393.6 ypg (No. 68)||357.2 ypg (No. 45)|
|Rushing Defense||153.3 ypg (No. 61)||105.2 ypg (No. 18)||41.7 ypg (No. 1)||116.4 ypg (No. 25)||137.8 ypg (No. 44)||234 ypg (No. 117)|
|Passing Defense||142.7 ypg (No. 8)||183.6 (No. 29)||98.7 ypg (No. 1)||193.8 ypg (No. 42)||255.8 ypg (No. 98)||123 ypg (No. 4)|
As you can tell, NC State's offense has to make some major improvements to increase their production against the remaining schedule. The next four defenses rank in the Top 22 nationally in total defense and Top 20 in scoring defense.
So where does NC State need to improve?
Create Explosive Plays
NC State has to become more explosive offensively. Wideouts Nyheim Hines and Maurice Trowell have the speed and quickness to get behind defenses, in fact, both were behind Louisville's defense for potential touchdowns but Jacoby Brissett either didn't see them open or couldn't connect with the pass.
NC State MUST hit more explosive plays.
They aren't going to be able to grind away consistently on the ground against teams like Boston College, Clemson, and Florida State to they must generate more chunk plays in the passing game.
Brissett Needs To Be More Aggressive
This would certainly help with creating more explosive plays... senior quarterback Jacoby Brissett has to play with more aggression.
Take more chances... be a playmaker... look to create big plays. State is averaging just 148 passing yards per game with two touchdowns in league play. That's not going to get it done.
What would be ideal? Well, look at Jacoby Brissett's breakout game... his 2014 matchup against Florida State.
Brissett totaled 397 yards in the loss, accounting for 359 passing yards on 32-of-48 passing with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He added another 38 yards on the ground. Now, he did have two fumbles, but Brissett was playing to win the game, not safe. 48 passing attempts... the most he has attempted this year in a game is 28. It's hard having big passing games with just 28 passing attempts.
Look for the Pack to use this week to try and get Jacoby Brissett more confidence but also implement a more aggressive approach offensively. While the Wolfpack's defense has been stout, the offense certainly has to pick things up and it starts with hitting explosive plays.
Open up the offense... allow, or force if that's the correct word, Brissett to be more aggressive.
Speed Things Up?
One way NC State's staff can potentially help Brissett play better is to pick up the pace. Last year Brissett had success at times when NC State went uptempo, and that might be something they look to mix it during the bye week.
The Wolfpack hasn't used much no-huddle at all this season. Will they do so moving forward?
Get Ramos Involved
There was buzz all fall camp about Jaylen Samuels, and he has certainly lived up to it, but another player who turned heads was junior wide receiver Jumichael Ramos. The buzz was right, as he has been extremely impressive for the Wolfpack.
State had major issues at wide receiver last year, but that hasn't been the case in 2015. The wideouts are catching almost everything, blocking downfield, and appear to be creating separation. What makes Ramos so unique is he is proving he can make tough catches when there isn't separation, and NC State needs to take advantage of that.
This week the Wolfpack should be trying to find ways to get him more touches. He has just four grabs in the last two games and very few targets. Those numbers must increase for NC State as the season goes on.
He is showing he can be a reliable playmaker in the passing game.
Where Is Nyheim?
Like Ramos, freshman Nyheim Hines also needs more touches. We heard during fall camp how he was consistently making plays, and it wasn't just around the line of scrimmage. He was catching deep passes against the Wolfpack defense.
He hasn't been used in that role much at all so far, instead being factored in on returns and mainly just the jet sweep game on offense.
He has to become more involved because he is a unique weapon. He can make defenders miss in space and has the speed to get behind defenses.
Hines had one grab for 17 yards against Virginia Tech, but it was a good playcall for him. He caught a short pass out in space and made a few defenders miss to gain 17 yards. He needs more of those types of touches. He has proven on returns that he can break tackles while going north-south... expect State to try and get him more of looks.
Re-Introduce David Grinnage
Notice a common theme here?
David Grinnage was expected to be a key cog in the Wolfpack offense after leading the team in touchdown catches (5) and finishing second in receptions (27) as a sophomore in 2014.
He hasn't been a factor at all.
Grinnage has five catches in six games and no touchdowns. He doesn't even have a gamet yet with more than one grab. State needs to target him more. He's a unique weapon who can create mismatches, particularly in the redzone.
Finding ways to get Grinnage more looks has to be on the agenda for the Wolfpack coaching staff.
Help Out The Ground Game
It's not all on the passing offense... the ground game as struggled too. State's rushing output has plummetted from 259 yards per game in the wins to just 101 yards per game in the losses.
That's not good.
A lot of it has been gameflow. NC State's been down in the last two losses for much of the game, and they haven't been able to grind out games like they could with leads in the wins. Building an early lead would certainly help the running game.
Also, NC State has to be better on first down. Maybe they look to mix up the playcalling a bit more on first down to try and get in second-medium/third-short situations where running the football isn't taken out of the equation.
Finally, State's power offense hasn't been able to open up large holes because defenses are stacking the box. One option could be running from a shotgun/spread look to try and create more running games for Matt Dayes and Jaylen Samuels.
Either way, NC State had to use the bye week to try and find an answer for the running game woes because the offense is built around tailback Matt Dayes and H-back Jaylen Samuels.