Fun Stat Nerd Tidbit: N.C. State

With run-pass quarterbacks, you'll often see per-game progressions that make little sense or, at least, show no trends.  Back when Brad Smith was at Missouri, I got to watch, on a week-to-week basis, which teams had mastered the "Stopping Brad Smith" gameplan (Kansas, Iowa State) and which ones very much had not (Nebraska, to name one).  It seemingly had little to do with the quality of the defense overall, and more to do with the quality of the defensive gameplan itself.  Did the "Stopping Russell Wilson" gameplan have the same randomness when it came to effectiveness?

In 2010, six defenses held N.C. State below the national average of 27.0 Adj. Points in a game: Western Carolina, Central Florida, Virginia Tech, East Carolina, Clemson and North Carolina. (We'll ignore WCU for now.)  Seven did not: Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Boston College, Florida State, Wake Forest, Maryland and West Virginia.

Defenses That Held N.C. State To Below-Average Production
Team / Rankings Def.
F/+
Def.
S&P
DFEI Rush.
S&P+
Pass.
S&P+
Std. Downs
S&P+
Pass. Downs
S&P+
Central Florida 32 36 33 41 30 41 20
Virginia Tech 23 28 27 48 13 24 28
East Carolina 118 102 117 108 86 108 103
Clemson 10 14 7 6 43 10 33
North Carolina 37 44 24 27 54 38 35
AVERAGE 44.0 44.8 41.6 46.0 45.2 44.2 43.8

There is no single, distinguishing characteristic in this group.  There was one great defense, one terrible defense, and three good ones.

Defenses That Allowed Above-Average Production
Team / Rankings Def.
F/+
Def.
S&P
DFEI Rush.
S&P+
Pass.
S&P+
Std. Downs
S&P+
Pass. Downs
S&P+
Cincinnati
88
100
68
58
113
97
81
Georgia Tech
77
85
70
76
95
82
75
Boston College
6
12
15
2
36
11
21
Florida State
41
32
38
40
27
19
51
Wake Forest
93
94
93
5
15
3
26
Maryland
22
31
20
28
29
23
34
West Virginia
2
5
1
5
15
3
26
AVERAGE 47.0 51.3 43.6 32.0 47.1 34.0 44.9

So the teams who did worse against Wilson were better against the run, slightly worse against the pass, and slightly worse overall.  They were better on standard downs and slightly worse on passing downs.  I could try to figure out what the hell that might mean (Teams that were better against the run thought they could handle Wilson without a specific gameplan accounting for him? Nah...), but instead I'll just say that there was not much rhyme or reason behind it.  As with Brad Smith (who ran more and threw less and wasn't the same quarterback, obviously), the "Stopping Wilson" handbook took with some and did not take with others.

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