NC STATE WILL LOOK TO RUN SIMILAR PLAYS TO LAST YEAR
This goes for both sides of the ball but it will be much more prominent on the offensive side of the ball. There has been a lot of talk about UofL’s defense being more aggressive “all of a sudden” but they got after NC State last year and made life hell for Devin Leary. The defense got six stops in a row with five three-and-outs but they eventually wore down.
The Wolfpack finally broke through with some “pressure beaters” with one play standing out to me. They ran a play that I’ve seen called “RB arrow” or “RB Circle” where the back runs a route out of the backfield toward the first down marker and then cuts back inside to the middle of the field. UCF ran it a few times earlier in the year and State decided to try the same thing. Well, once they wore down the defense, it worked with ease. I think they will look to do as much as possible to counter UofL’s pressure this year as well.
LOUISVILLE HAS TO TACKLE BETTER AGAINST THE RUN
This is an obvious point but it can’t be stressed enough. Phil Mafah averaged 10.7 yards per carry after contact last week and it ended up being the biggest factor in the game. Louisville has been at its best this year when they can get to running backs before they get going. The reason for that is that they are getting more than one guy in for the tackle. Tackling guys in space isn’t something this defense excels in and they should be working to avoid the issue when possible.
Jordan Houston is a violent runner for NC State and I view him as an underrated player for them. I also think he can break off some chunk runs if they don’t tackle well. Michael Allen is also a sleeper in this offense who has the ability to score at any moment with his speed. This group doesn’t get a lot of attention but I think they could be the biggest factor if UofL has another poor tackling performance.
WHOEVER LINES UP AT QUARTERBACK WILL HAVE TO MAKE PLAYS FOR THE OFFENSE
Scott Satterfield hasn’t made many excuses this year but he let it slip after the Clemson game that they are razor-thin at wide receiver. Ahmari Huggins-Bruce has been hobbled for a few weeks now and the loss of Dee Wiggins is starting to become a factor as the season goes on. This team started the season without much depth and it is starting to show why that was an issue.
With that being said, this offense needs the quarterback to make plays for the offense to find a way to move the ball against a very good defense. We’ve seen the running game be very good starting with the Virginia game but Clemson did a great job of stopping the run on first and second down and the Cards only found success on a few plays throughout the game.
I could see the same thing happening this weekend which means that the quarterback position will have to hit the big throws and make the big runs when the opportunity presents itself.
SENIOR DAY HAS TO BE A FACTOR FOR THE TEAM
Satterfield made it a point this year that they had a veteran group of players who were led by seniors who actually play. His point stood out to me because even when UofL has had a lot of seniors, it has been a group made up of a few impact players and a lot of backups. You could field an entire side of the field with the starters they will be sending off this season. It’s a different type of group and you have to hope that this game will mean something to them.
You also hope that the younger players will step up to send these players off in the right way. They weren’t here during that awful 2018 season. They weren’t around to see when things got better in 2019. A good amount of them weren’t here for the Covid season either. But I’m sure they’ll be hearing about it all week. The effort hasn’t been an issue all year, but the execution has come and gone. My hope is that this entire team comes out with a goal of winning one for the old guys.