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What To Watch For: NC State Wolfpack

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NCAA Football: Louisville at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

NC STATE WILL TRY TO ESTABLISH THE RUN

Louisville has struggled to stop the run this year and NC State has struggled to run the ball. So something has to give this week. State had some success running the ball against Clemson last week and the week before they had a solid showing against Wake Forest. So, I think they will look to get their running game going early in hopes that they can take advantage of a Louisville defense that got gashed last week.

Zonovan Knight looked impressive last week against Clemson. He’s solidly built at 197 pounds and has good enough speed to get through holes and pick up chunk yardage. He’s not too different from Miami’s two running backs. State needs help to get their passing game going so Louisville will have to slow down the running game so that they can play the coverages they want in the aback end.

LOUISVILLE’S DEFENSE HAS TO PRESSURE THE QUARTERBACK

Miami’s offensive line seems to be improving but they’re still not very good. You wouldn’t know that by how they handled Louisville’s pass rush. UofL got one coverage sack on the day and only hit Jarren Williams a few times all day. NC State does a pretty good job of protecting their quarterbacks but they have had some issues picking up blitzes.

State is also playing with some backups on the offensive line. Louisville might be able to get some pressure with the twists that they have been using a lot this year. I also would love to see Bryan Brown bring some blitzers from the secondary. NC State isn’t as dangerous as Miami and some of the other teams UofL has faced this year. A similar approach to the UVA game might make sense.

NC STATE WILL TRY TO USE TRICK PLAYS TO TRY TO CREATE BIG PLAYS

You could make an argument that the Wolfpack is the least explosive team that Louisville has played this year outside of Eastern Kentucky. They don’t have a lot of speed outside and they struggle to create running lanes for their backs. They only have 13 plays of 30+ yards on the season and 5 of 40+. For context, Louisville had four plays of 40+ yards against Miami alone.

Thayer Thomas has two touchdown passes on the season and he actually has a legit arm. State doesn’t do as much trick stuff as they did before but they will definitely look to do some things in this game to take advantage of the Louisville defenses propensity to give up big plays. If Thomas isn’t the guy they use, I would expect to see a flea flicker or something of that sort to be called.

LOUISVILLE CANNOT HAVE A LETDOWN GAME

Louisville is a better football team than NC State. That might not be the case if State was healthy but they’re not. State is averaging less than three scores a game against power five teams this year. On the flip side, their defense is giving up 38 points per game in the same situation. As bad as the numbers have been and as ravaged as they’ve been by injuries, they’re playing hard on both sides of the ball.

Louisville didn’t allow Virginia to do the things t hey’re not good at, well. Miami ran the ball down their throats and hit multiple big plays on them. But Miami wasn’t a “bad” team coming into that game. They were actually on an upswing and may have fixed some of their issues. State is trending downward and they’re being forced to play guys they probably didn’t expect to due to injuries. The season isn’t over for them but they’re in a really bad spot while Louisville should have all the motivation they need to win the game. Laying another egg could derail the rest of a very promising start to the Scott Satterfield era.