Dave Doeren brings his banged up defense into this weekend's matchup with hopes that his young talent will step up earlier than anticipated. The Wolfpack defense has lost multiple starters this year and they are coming into this game having to replace their defensive leader in Isaiah Moore. How the defense replaces Moore and how they look to contain an improving Louisville rushing attack will be key.
The defensive front for State is talented although they haven’t been as productive as some groups we’ve seen in the past. Corey Durden transferred in from Florida State and he has made an impact in the middle. Durden has been disruptive and he’s done a good job of freeing up space for the Linebackers behind him. Daniel Joseph and Davin Mann have also made plays this year with Savion Jackson looking to live up to the hype of his recruitment.
Linebacker will be the big question mark for the Wolfpack defense. Isaiah Moore being out is a major problem for the defense but Payton Wilson being lost for the season has been underrated in my opinion. State has lacked the big-play ability at the second level that would have made this defense fearsome. While they are a top-20 defense, I think they could have been better with Wilson flying around the field.
Without Moore and Wilson, the defense is reliant on Drake Thomas to be outstanding. The depth chart shows a lot of youth at the other two spots and UofL could force a couple of true freshmen into action if they can wear down the defense. Jordan Poole and Cade Fordham were big gets for the Pack as recruits but being thrust into this type of situation could be too much for them to handle.
The Wolfpack has a mix of experience and youth in the secondary and the pass defense has struggled a bit this year. Tanner Ingle is an absolute stud at his Safety spot but no other players have stood out so far. Ingle is great in run support while also having the ability to cover in the middle of the field. His ability to help on outside runs will be a big key in this game but Louisville’s play-action game could cause some problems for a very aggressive secondary.