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2016 University of Louisville college football preview: NC State Wolfpack

Can the Wolfpack be a threat with a new quarterback at the helm?

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

NC State Wolfpack

2015 Record



Troy, Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion, South Alabama, Wake Forest, Boston College, Syracuse


Louisville, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, Mississippi State

Series leader: Louisville (5-1)

The Cards travelled to Raleigh last season for an early October matchup against the Wolfpack in Carter-Finley Stadium. Louisville struck first when Lamar Jackson broke out for a 68-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to get things going. Lamar Jackson led the Cardinals in rushing to the tune of 121 yards on 19 carries to go along with his rushing touchdown. Jackson would later find Devonte Peete for a 20-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to take a 14-0 lead. The Wolfpack would answer that with a 3-yard rushing touchdown from running back Matthew Dayes. Jacoby Brissett would later find Jaylen Samuels in the end zone, but Kyle Bambard would miss the PAT. Louisville would secure a 20-13 victory over NC State after kicker John Wallace would knock in a pair of field goals.

Season Recap

NC State would go undefeated in the month of September to start out the season, but, that's not saying that much when the victories are over Troy, Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion, and South Alabama. After back to back losses to Louisville and at Virginia Tech, NC State would not be able to string two victories in a row for the rest of the season. NC State would manage to secure three more victories with wins over Wake Forest, Boston College, and Syracuse to become bowl eligible. They would go on to face Mississippi State in the Belk Bowl, but would lose 51-28 to finish out the season with a 7-6 record.

Coach Resume

Dave Doeren is heading in to his 4th year at NC State. He was hired on to lead the Wolfpack after spending two stellar years at Northern Illinois University. During his first year at NIU in 2011, Doeren took the Huskies to an 11-3 record and a win in the bowl. He would follow that up in 2012 with a 12-1 record, but this time making it to the Orange Bowl. It would turn out that he would not actually coach in the Orange Bowl, though, as he accepted the head coaching position at NC State. In his two years at NIU the Huskies went 23-4 and won the MAC both times. Things have not been quite as successful at NC State. In 2013, Doeren's first year, the Wolfpack would go 3-9, but then jump to an 8-5 record the following year in 2014. Thus far in his current tenure, Doeren has an overall record of 18-20 while going 1-1 in bowl games.

Returning Starters

NC State will return 14 starters (6 offense, 8 defense). One of the biggest pieces returning will be senior running back Matt Dayes. Dayes is coming off of a season where he rushed for 865 yards and 12 touchdowns for an average of 6.46 yards per carry. He was also a threat in the passing game coming out of the backfield where he logged 172 receiving yards. What makes his 2015 stats more impressive is that he only played in 8 games before suffering a season-ending foot injury.

On the defensive side, linebacker Airius Moore and defensive lineman Bradley Chubb will be leading the way for the Wolfpack. Moore was the team leader in tackles (77), with Chubb right behind him (69). Chubb is also the returning leader in sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (11).

Returning QB

The Wolfpack will lose their 2015 starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Brissett transferred in to the Wolfpack after originally attending Florida. Taking over the role after Brissett will be sophomore Jalan McClendon. McClendon saw limited action during his first year as he completed only 8 passes on 14 attempts while seeing action in just 7 games. Safe to say that head coach Dave Doeren will rely heavily on Matt Dayes and the run game at first as he tries to ease in his new quarterback.

Biggest problem

The passing game is going to be a question mark in the upcoming season. Not only does McClendon have to get experience as the full-time starter, but there isn't really a proven playmaker. Jaylen Samuels returns, which will be big for the offense since he is quite a dynamic weapon. Not only did he lead the team in receiving yards, receptions, and receiving touchdowns, but he also had 368 rushing yards and 9 rushing touchdowns. After Samuels, though, there isn't a dominant player to help take the focus off of him.

Last season the passing game ranked 88th nationally in yards-per-attempt (6.6), and the arm strength of McClendon should help bump those numbers up a bit. The problem is, who will he be getting the ball to?

Biggest Strength

NC State will be bringing back another tough defense. While they do lose Mike Rose (10.5 sacks last season) they bring back plenty of other starters. As mentioned earlier, Bradley Chubb and Airius Moore will return, both of which are big boosts for a defense that ranked 29th nationally last year in total defense. The departure of Justin Burris and Hakim Jones will be blows to the secondary, but with the return of Moore, Chubb, Jerod Fernandez, B.J. Hill, and Josh Jones, the Wolfpack will once again field a stout defense.

4 players to remember

Matt Dayes: Despite playing in only 8 games in 2015, Dayes still was the team leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. The offense will be focused around Dayes as NC State figures out answers in the passing game.

Jaylen Samuels: More of a threat in the receiving game or in the rushing attack? Samuels is a dynamic athlete that will be used all over the field.

Bradley Chubb: A tough defensive lineman. Chubb had 69 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and a broken up pass.

Mike Stevens: With the losses of Burris and Jones there will be a need for someone in the secondary to step up. Stevens had 1 interception and broke up 5 passes.

Final Thoughts

It seems like outside of Clemson and Florida State there really isn't anyone in the ACC that pops out as someone who could be too much of a challenge for the Cards. Even SB Nation's Bill Connelly puts Louisville in a tier of its own. NC State will definitely have another difficult defense to go up against, and in this matchup, the Cards will more than likely have a little bit of a tougher time getting things rolling. In the end, I think another victory in the area of 10 or 13 points is something that we will see. As long as Grantham has a plan in line to keep Dayes in check, the Louisville defense will be too good for the Wolfpack's passing game to be a true threat.