It’s all about Jacoby Brissett when it comes to the Wolfpack offense. Run/Pass all comes at the discretion of Brissett and his decision making has been outstanding lately. Jacoby hasn’t thrown an INT in 180+ pass attempts and is completing 78% of his passes in 2015. Brissett can take off in the spread option Wolfpack offense or he can allow Running Back Matt Dayes who ranks 17th nationally in rushing yards and has four consecutive 100+ yard games to go to work. The Wolfpack are down a weapon after Shadrach Thornton was arrested a subsequently dismissed from the program this week. NC State is not lacking athletes in the program and they will do the majority of their work on the ground despite Thornton’s absence while mixing in a calculated passing attack.
North Carolina State’s offensive stat rankings are impressive but again, we are talking about Troy (83rd in Total Defense), Old Dominion (87th), South Alabama (98th) and Eastern Kentucky (FCS). NC State has been outstanding in dominating time of possession, on 3rd down and in the Red Zone. For Louisville, containing the OUTSIDE edge is the key. Keeping Brissett and Dayes between the tackles and not allow them operate in space is the big challenge and where the Cards have struggled defensively thus far in 2015. Louisville may be in luck with the weather keeping NC State’s speed to a minimum, but some teams play better in inclement weather than others.
Louisville has interceptions in the past 17 games. Jacoby Brissett hasn’t thrown one in a LONG time. NC State’s WR’s aren’t overly BIG and there is a lot of youth there. The Cardinal secondary has done a nice job with the take aways, but they haven’t been excellent tackling this year in their 3 FBS match-ups. I’d expect Brissett and NC State to utilize the short passing game to get the ball to the outside (opposite of Josh Harvey-Clemons’ side as we have seen all year) and force the Lousiville secondary to make tackles on the perimeter. The last thing the Wolfpack wants to do is to play the Louisville Defense in a funnel.
NC State’s offensive line is also very young, but it is probably an upgrade from what Louisville faced vs. Clemson. Still NC State’s OL has been in flux with a series of injuries throughout the year that have made continuity difficult to achieve….and Louisville’s Front 7 is quite a bit of an upgrade from Troy, Old Dominion, South Alabama and Eastern Kentucky. The Cards will need to make sure they TACKLE in this game and will need to try and find gaps in the Pack OL to penetrate and keep the Wolves from making progress on 1st & 2nd down. If Louisville can do this they can win. If NC State wins on 1st & 2nd down all day they’ll control the clock & field position and as a result will put a lot of pressure on a young Louisville offense in the rain.