There were major questions surrounding NC State's defense coming into the season. Despite returning multiple starters at all three levels, most questioned if the unit could make the strides necessary to put NC State in a better position to win games against some of the high-powered offenses on the schedule.
They certainly did just that.
The Wolfpack improved in several categories, specifically: scoring defense, third-down defense, redzone TD defense, and rushing defense.
|Scoring Defense||No. 51 (25.8 ppg)||No. 32 23.3 ppg)|
|Red Zone TD Defense||No. 48 (56.67%)||No. 14 (48.84%)|
|Third-Down Defense||No. 33 (35.20%)||No. 25 (35.06%)|
|Rushing Defense||No. 39 (147.46 ypg)||No. 6 (104.67 ypg)|
"I would say that I saw our guys improve," said defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable. "They've grown up some and we're not where we want to be yet, but we're gaining on it. We're just going to continue to work hard and capture that ultimate goal of being the best that we can be and see where that puts us."
"They were a good group of seniors," he said. "You're only as strong as your seniors and that group did a really good job for us, and they've done a great job throughout their career and are going to be missed."
With that being said, the strength of the defense is a group of juniors, including nine starters, which is the foundation of the defense.
"That group of guys have been playing since [freshmen,] red-shirt freshmen," said Huxtable. "We took some bumps and bruises early along the way, but they've been resilient in the work, in their commitment, and I know they're going to work hard again after this game in the offseason going into the spring and over the summer. I'm really excited and looking forward to what we can do next year."
However, this team still has one more game remaining, a matchup with SEC foe Vanderbilt. NC State hasn't defeated a SEC program in 15 years.
"That's always fun to know that you're going to play a school from the ACC, SEC," Huxtable said. "I think our guys are looking forward to it and excited about the game and being able to play."
What does he think of the Commodore offense?
"They're a very good offense," Huxtable added. "Multiple personnel groups, a lot of movement, motion. They're a good football team and a very physical football team, so it will be a really good challenge for us."