clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

#W2W4: NC State Wolfpack

This week's What To Watch For takes a look at the running game for both teams.

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

How Will Louisville Handle NC State's Defensive Front?

Louisville will be facing a strong front seven for the third straight game. So far they’ve split the difference when it comes to handling penetration and setting the tone at the line of scrimmage. Clemson dominated the game up front and they were able to get Louisville’s offense off track and flustered. Duke, on the other hand, couldn’t make enough plays to stop Lamar Jackson and the offense ended up averaging nearly 8 yards per play. Duke wasn’t completely ineffective as they did a good job of staying in their rush lanes for the majority of the game. They also don’t have the athletes to keep up with a guy like Jackson.

NC State has a very good defensive line that has great size and great pursuit. Coming off of a game where they all but shut down a good Clemson rushing attack, I can’t help but think that they could find success against Louisville. Lamar Jackson is much better runner than Deshaun Watson of course but he has really been more of a running back with the way that he is utilized and State has been really good at slowing down running backs this year. They get really good push up front and their linemen do a good job of eating up interior blockers. Can Arrius Moore and Jerod Fernandez (if he’s healthy enough to play) utilize the open space to contain Jackson?

Can Matt Dayes Continue His Streak Of 100-Yard Games?

Matt Dayes did something that not many running backs can claim last weekend. He rushed for over 100 yards against Clemson’s defense. The last two backs to do so are named Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook and they both did it last season. Dayes is a good back but just like NC State in general, he has had his best games against subpar competition. He has run for 100 yards in three straight games and 10 of his last 14 games. The Wolfpack had a solid offensive performance this past week and Dayes really showed a great ability to get some chunk yardage against the Tigers stout run defense.

One of the ways that Dayes was able to get a few nice run was by exploiting cutback lanes. Clemson did a poor job staying at home on the back side of the play while also flowing way too far towards the play and Dayes had the entire middle of the field open on a few runs. Louisville has a tendency to overrun plays also, so it could be a big issue for the defense with Dayes having great vision and good burst through the hole. Another issue is the fact that Clemson has safeties that are great tacklers. Louisville doesn’t have that luxury. Chucky Williams and Josh Harvey-Clemons have had their fair share of missed tackles this year and Dayes could cause some problems.

The Wolfpack Need A Deep Threat To Make Plays At Receiver

The Wolfpack offense has had a potent rushing attack for the last couple of years when healthy, but they’ve struggled to be a dynamic offense. That’s not typical for power five teams that run a balanced offense like they do. Big passing plays are usually set up by running the ball effectively and utilizing that success to run play-action behind it. Even if you don’t run play-action, the defense naturally sinks up towards the line of scrimmage and it provides single coverage outside.

NC State lacks the athletes outside to take advantage of their running game. Louisville will play one safety high at times because they trust their pressure to get to the quarterback as well as trusting their corners to stay with receivers. With State’s lack of play makers at receiver, I wouldn’t be surprised if Louisville puts a safety in the box just because. Stephen Louis is the lone deep threat for the Wolfpack but he is a viable one. If NC State wants to put points on the board they will have to get the ball to him.