NC State’s defense has been unrelenting in 2021, leading the ACC in most defensive categories over the course of the season and ranking among the FBS leaders in many. Despite losing TWO All-ACC linebackers (Payton Wilson in Game 2 and Isaiah Moore in Game 7), as well as his starting strong safety (Game 2), and nose tackle (Game 3) to season-ending injuries, he has preached a ‘next man up’ mentality that the team has embraced. He’s instilled a toughness and work ethic that has his players confident that losing top players just means opportunity.
Gibson has installed his 3-3-5 defense that has improved year to year. In 2020, linebacker Payton Wilson led the ACC in tackles (10.8 per game). Linebackers Payton Wilson and Isaiah Moore ranked 2nd and 1st respectively among players returning for 2021 in tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage last season.
(as of Nov. 7): NC State leads the ACC and ranks 6th in the FBS scoring defense, allowing just 16 ppg. All nine opponents have scores less (some significantly so) than their season average in other games. The unit leads the ACC and ranks third in the FBS in 3rd down conversion % (26.5), 1st/10th in rushing defense (100.6), 1st/20th in pass efficiency defense (116.5) and 2nd/19th in total defense (321.4). The Wolfpack is tied with Georgia for the FBS-lead in rushing TDs allowed this season with just two. The Wolfpack has pulled down 10 interceptions this season.