From an outsider’s view, the glaring issue with the NC State football team is their very bland defense. Dave Huxtable has been the defensive coordinator at State for a good while now and his defenses have been the epitome of “average”. This season was expected to be a down year because they lost so many guys up front but they started the season pretty well. The ACC slog has exposed them a bit as they’ve lost three of their last four and the defense hasn’t been great in any of those games.
The defensive line for State lost all four starters from a very good group last year but they have been serviceable without those guys. Eurndraus Bryant is the veteran in the middle at the nose tackle position. He isn’t a big time playmaker but he does do a pretty good job of eating up blocks. Darian Roseboro has been a let down at his defensive end spot but they have to be happy James Smith-Williams who has five sacks on the year. I also like Alim McNeill at defensive tackle. He was one of the top players in State’s class last year and he’s been really good in spurts.
The linebackers lost some veteran talent as well but I think they netted a positive because Germaine Pratt gets to play a lot more now. Pratt is the guy from last year’s game that walked down Seth Dawkins late in the game and then took an interception back for a touchdown to seal things. He was a backup at that point but now he is the key player on this defense. Pratt is the guy that is likely to come on late blitzes which Louisville has struggled with. He’s also the most likely guy to pick off a pass over the middle of the field which Louisville has struggled with. He’s also the best athlete on the field.
The Wolfpack pass defense is one of the worst in the country. They’re allowing teams to complete 63% of their passes and they’re allowing 8.1 yards per attempt. Those numbers are similar to UofL, for context. No one in the secondary really stands out for strong play but I’ve always like the way that Nick McCleod plays. Tanner Ingle is another freshman that has played significant minutes, also.
I’m not sure how Mike Summers will go about things as a play caller, but I’m pretty sure Bobby Petrino would have come out throwing the ball a lot against this defense. I would say that Summers should look to attack the deep middle of the field. State has talent there but they have some ginormous safeties and they aren’t all that great in coverage. Louisville has been using Tutu Atwell on seam routes all year for some reason but I’d love to see them work Dez Fitzpatrick in those areas because he has the height to make those catches in traffic. Either way, I think that the offense could see some real success in the passing game this week.