2 reason why NC State can expect big things from Airius Moore in 2017


As college football season approaches, Pro Football Focus has released grades on returning players. Earlier this week, PFF noted that NC State senior linebacker Airus Moore — one of the Wolfpack’s most experienced players — was the team’s highest rated player in 2016 — on either side of the ball.

According to PFF’s metrics, Moore was better than All-ACC performers like Tony Adams, Jaylen Samuels and Bradley Chubb.

NC State’s defense returns a plethora of talent, especially along a powerful front seven. Let’s take a quick look at some of the numbers behind Moore — a key cog in the middle of Dave Doeren’s defense.


Experience Factor

Airius Moore has played in 39 career games, which is tied for the most on current roster. He’s never missed a game in his career; of those 39 games, Moore has been a starter 26 times. Moore started all 13 games in 2016 — 12 at weak-side linebacker and one at middle linebacker (Boston College).

Moore’s compatriot in the middle of NC State’s defense the last four seasons has been redshirt senior Jerod Fernandez.

Fernandez, an excellent pass-defender, has started 30 career games — second most among defensive players.

Together, those two have combined for 417 total tackles and 5.5 sacks and five interceptions. In 2016, those two helped NC State rank inside the top 15 nationally in several run defense metrics.


Speaking of 2016, though…

Airius Moore — perhaps quietly — put together a rather productive 2016 season. Moore finished third on State’s roster with 86 total tackles (No. 23 in the ACC) — behind safety Josh Jones, now with the Green Bay Packers, and Fernandez.

According to Sports Reference, too, Moore was second on the team with 14 tackles for loss — only Bradley Chubb, with 21, had more. That’s impressive, especially once you factor in all of the firepower NCSU has up front.

Moore’s 2.5 sacks were the most the roster among non-defensive linemen.

Also: over the last two seasons, only 42 ACC players have recovered a fumbled and defended a pass in the same game. Moore is one of those players; he accomplished that feat in the 2015 loss to UNC.

NC State’s linebackers, as a position group, posted a Havoc Rate of 3.4 percent. That ranked 84th nationally, per Football Study Hall.

Havoc Rate measures the percentage of plays that a team or position group collects a tackle for loss, defends a pass or forces a fumble. As good as Moore and Fernandez have been, they have room for growth here; those two could be even more disruptive in 2017.


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