BleedTechBlue - Three Keys to Victory | NC State
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Three Keys to Victory | NC State

Tomorrow evening, the Bulldogs head east to take on the Wolfpack of NC State at 5:00 PM Central time. The last time Tech went to Raleigh, things didn't go so well. What can we do to even the all-time series at one game a piece?

Build Something

In Tech's first three games, opponents averaged 420 passing yards per game. FOUR HUNDRED AND TWENTY! With just a little bit more resistance in the passing game... and maybe precisely 33 fewer yards in the SMU game... Tech's record would look a whole lot better than 2-2 right now. Those awful numbers are why if you'd told me that the same North Texas team that threw for 384 against SMU was going to come to Ruston and not even break a hundred, I'd have laughed you out of the Joe! But the Bulldogs clamped down and held the Mean Green to just 2.5 yards per ATTEMPT. That's crazy. And also historic. Here's our guy @LATechSportsCTL on that particular stat:

What a time to be alive. If the Bulldog secondary can build on that unprecedented success, we will have a shot to win the game in Raleigh.

Pressure Devin Leary

A huge part of why UNT struggled so much in the passing game was that their quarterback play was... well, it was pretty dang awful. Unfortunately for Tech, NC State's signal caller has looked everything BUT awful so far this year. Through four games, the reigning ACC Offensive Player of the Week has completed 69% of his throws for 1,032 yards, 10 TDs and only 2 INTs. And while the Wolfpack are a much more balanced offense than any team we've faced so far this season (UNT wasn't balanced... they were baaaad), a QB that accurate scares me. The good news is that when you dig down into the PFF Numbers, Leary has one weakness to his game: pressure generated by the defensive linemen. When "kept clean", Leary completes 76% of all throws, but when he's pressured, that number drops dramatically down to 39%. Okay, so throw everything you've got at Leary, right? Not so fast! He completes 69% of throws and has yet to throw an INT when a blitz is called, so it's all about generating pressure with the front four. We will REALLY need some DOGS to stand up and make plays on the D Line to have a shot at slowing NC State down.

Passing = Scoring

I don't need to dive into the advanced stats to tell you that Tech has been better at passing the ball than running the ball so far this year. Sure, Marcus Williams has been pretty good, and Garner, Dixon, and Henry-Brooks have... existed... but the key to the 2021 Bulldog offense rests in Austin Kendall's arm. So much so that I honestly thought about making "Austin Kendall actually playing" one of the keys to victory this week. Okay, I've put this off long enough: Let's look at some advanced stats. Not because I need to, but because I want to!

There's a stat out there called EPA, or "Expected Points Added", which measures the difference between the points a team can expect to score based on the situation AND the actual result of the play. EPA attempts to answer the question, "How often did you provide positive value, and on average, how much positive value did you add?" Make sense? Good. Here are Tech's numbers through four games:

When Tech runs the ball in any given situation, there is a net LOSS of 0.129 expected points (109th in FBS).

When Tech passes the ball in any given situation, there is a net gain of .262 expected points (36th in FBS).

Prior to Austin Kendall missing the UNT game, Tech ranked 27th in the passing game. My point here is that with Kendall at the helm and a pass-heavy philosophy, we have a real shot to do some damage in this game!

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Evan is also a contributor to gtpdd.dog, a lighthearted Louisiana Tech blog. Be sure to check out @gotechplsdntdie on Twitter, play the gtpdd Contest and CUSA Pick'Em, and listen to the gtpdd Podcast!