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Key Matchups: NC State Wolfpack

Jack Tocho has one of the best names in college football but he can also be torched deep.

Liz Condo-USA TODAY Sports

NC State's Defensive Line Vs. Louisville's Offensive Line

Louisville’s offensive line has been the most improved group on the team and they’ve been a huge reason why the offense is the best in the country. However, they did get dominated by Clemson’s defensive front and they struggled somewhat against Duke. NC State is pretty much the same team as Duke, statistically. The Wolfpack front is just much more talented. Both teams run the same 4-2-5 traditional nickel defense but State has the four very good defensive linemen while Duke really only has one. Duke manufactured some of their pressure. What if State doesn’t have to?

The key to slowing down Louisville’s offense is containing Lamar Jackson. No team has truly done that so far but NC State might just be good enough to spy him about as well as anyone has. Duke decided to spy Jackson and they did a pretty good job of keeping him from getting outside and making big plays, but where he really killed them was in the middle of the field. Duke failed to stay in their rush lanes at times and Lamar killed them for it. The Wolfpack have the athletes to close some of those gaps more quickly which could help them keep Lamar under control, to a degree.

Jack Tocho Vs. Louisville's Outside Receivers

Jack Tocho is an extremely valuable and experienced cornerback for NC State. He has great size and he’s tough enough to be playing with a giant cast on his hand right now. What Jack Tocho is not is a very fast football player. Tocho is what I would call a "jumbo" corner. He’s over 200 pounds and he has no problem making plays in run support. He really doesn’t do well with keeping up with speedy receivers down the field and Louisville will likely look to exploit that. From what I’ve seen from watching them play, Tocho will play the left corner spot and he will stay there as opposed to flipping as a boundary/field corner. That puts him on the right side of the field which is naturally easier to throw to for a right handed quarterback. The Wolfpack defense plays a lot of man coverage so I would be absolutely stunned if they don’t go after him a few times if they get him in single coverage.

Josh Harvey-Clemons and Chucky Williams Vs. Matt Dayes

Matt Dayes has run for 100 yards in all but one game this year and his offensive line is providing him with plenty of space to get to the second and third level. He has shown great vision as well as cutback ability over his career and he can also catch the ball very well out of the backfield. What that means is that he will find himself in one-on-one situations with JHC and Chucky in the open field at least a couple of times Saturday. Dayes probably wouldn't be labeled as "shifty" but he's definitely agile enough to make a guy miss in the open field. That likelihood goes up a bit with the issues Chucky Williams has had making sure tackles this year. JHC leads the team in tackles but he has had his fare share of issues during his time here with breaking down and not lunging when he squares up with a runner. Louisville's safeties have to have a good game this weekend. Dayes is the type of back that can change the complexion of a game. If NC State gets the ball going on the ground, it keeps the Louisville offense on the bench.