Dave Doeren entered the 2022 season with high hopes of building on one of the best seasons in Wolfpack history in 2021. Much of that hinged on the right arm of his star quarterback, Devin Leary. However, the offense never reached its potential and Devin Leary was lost for the season a few weeks ago. But, Doeren has been able to keep winning with MJ Morris taking over and playing like anything but a true freshman.
Morris has been the story of this offense over the last few weeks after taking over during the Virginia Tech game three weeks ago. He has seven touchdown passes during that span and only one interception. He plays with a type of calm that you don’t expect from a freshman who was thrust into the starting role. He is a very accurate passer at al levels and he stands in the pocket well while things develop down the field.
Morris can also extend plays with his legs while also being a solid runner on designed draws and in the read option game. I won’t say that he’s a major threat to take over a game with his running ability but you do have to account for his legs. One area that bodes well for Louisville is that he fumbled three times last week in their upset loss to Boston College. BC truly made him look like a freshman and you have to hope that UofL can do the same.
The State running game is really frustrating to me as a college football fan. They have the talent but they just don’t really seem to want to commit to running the football. Jordan Houston has waited his turn to be the guy and he’s been underutilized in my opinion. Houston is a violent runner with great burst in the open field. He can also catch the ball well out of the backfield. He’s a guy that they have to tackle so they can avoid the issue they had last week where even short runs went for 4-5 yards because they didn’t get guys to the ground when they had the chance.
Demie Sumo-Karngbaye is the running back that worries me for the Wolfpack. “Sumo” ran wild against East Carolina in the opener and I knew he would be a problem for UofL. He runs very hard and he hits top speed very quickly when he sees a lane. While he hasn’t played much recently due to injury, I always assume players will get healthy when they play the Cards. Keep an eye on him if he does play. The Cards will have to get to him before he gets going so that he doesn't break big runs on them. Michael Allen also looked impressive in limited minutes. A very fast back at their disposal.
The key to the offense taking a step back has been the production of the receivers, in my opinion. State lost Emeka Emezie and they just haven’t had a guy who could step up and take the attention off of others to help the group be more well-rounded. Thayer Thomas is an excellent slot receiver for the Wolfpack but he has been the only consistent player in the passing game. They have really missed that outside threat who can get you first downs and be a threat down the sideline. Thomas is a handful and UofL will have to have a plan to contain him. He has been a key for Morris during this run and he is so reliable in big moments.
Devin Carter is the big outside threat for the Pack and he can use his great size to his advantage. Carter has good speed but he uses his 6-3/215 frame to muscle his way open on short routes and he can use his catch radius to make catches in tight coverage. Keyon Lesane has also been impressive in the games I’ve watched. He is mostly used on intermediate throws but he is an athletic player who can turn a short gain into a big one. Darryl Jones is the other top receiver on the team and he has the size and experience to make plays. The Wolfpack has 20 touchdown passes on the season with 13 different receivers logging a touchdown. They can really spread it around even though they rely on Thomas to be the main target.
NC State has been very good up front for years now but this offensive line hasn’t been up to the standard they have built. They’ve shuffled some guys around at spots but outside of their outstanding center, Grant Gibson, they haven’t been all that great. The right side of the line seems to have the most issues, so one would hope that UofL can exploit it.