Louisville won a close game against NC State last week that felt closer than it really was. The score was close and there were tense moments where the outcome was in question. But, I don’t think there was a moment where it felt like Louisville wasn’t the better team. The Wolfpack threw the kitchen sink at Louisville’s offense and it took some big moments from the passing game to pull out the win. However, you could make an argument that UofL’s defense was just as successful. It all made for a great game to break down.
Louisville set the tone on the first play of the game and NC State did the same. State blitzed all night and brought pressure in different ways. But, one thing that stood out was that they obviously wanted to get free runners with a straight path to Jack Plummer.
Jeff Brohm countered this right away with a screen pass to a receiver which is a blitz-beater. Chris Bell makes the catch and reads his blocks well to nearly get a first down. I thought this play was a very good example of Brohm studying his opponent. It was a given that State would be aggressive right out of the gate. Brohm had a plan.
Jack Plummer can’t continue to miss these throws as the schedule gets tougher and the opportunity for a special season gets tighter. This is a perfect play call by Brohm with what is likely a very lucky situation where the Wolfpack drops eight and somehow leaves Payton Wilson in single coverage against Jawhar Jordan. Wilson is a mutant of an athlete but Jordan blows by him and there isn’t another defender within shouting distance of him.
Every player on this team just needs to be consistent. From Plummer to Ashton Gillotte and to Brock Travelstead. They’re not a team that has a true superstar but they are a team that is built to win as a team. Plummer has to find a way to take advantage of every opportunity Brohm or a defense gives him where he is at an advantage. A touchdown here probably changes the game.
This is such a good example of what your defensive line should look like in a short-yardage situation. Every down lineman holds their ground and the majority of them get a push and reset the line of scrimmage. Then you have the second-level players filling gaps and leaving no space to run.
This ended up being a moment of foreshadowing as the defense shut down the run game for the most part and they made it very hard to find run plays that could get substantial yardage. NC State had issues running the ball coming into this game but we have all seen teams find their footing in big games.
Eric Miller is the only blocker on this play that didn’t get beaten. Everyone else either got whipped, was beaten across their face, or just flat-out whiffed. The Louisville run game had been exceptional up until this game but State just gave more effort at the point of attack for much of the game.
Louisville doesn’t have a specific identity in the run game which has been a positive so far this season. Unfortunately, it felt like the Wolfpack had an answer for just about everything UofL threw at them. The stretch and outside runs in general seemed to fall flat as State’s defensive line kept getting to the spot before the offensive line.
I really liked this subtle shift before the snap that changed things for the State offensive line. Jaylen Alderman slides down as an edge defender and Ashton Gillotte ends up on the inside eye of the tackle. At the snap, you can see the right guard still crash down and “chase” Tawfiq Thomas for a double-team. Before the shift, this makes sense. After the shift, it leaves Alderman with no one to block him.
This forces Brennan Armstrong to keep the ball on the option. Then you have an insane individual play by Gillotte where he just tosses the right tackle out of the way and makes the play on Armstrong. Really liked the plan Ron English had to own the line of scrimmage and make this anemic State passing game to beat them.
NC State can’t throw the ball all that well because they don’t have receivers that can get open consistently. English had a plan to use his front four to get pressure while his secondary easily kept everything in front of them. This can work when you’re playing a team that can’t get open and a quarterback that won’t make quick decisions.
We’ve seen other teams make decisive decisions against a light rush. Armstrong isn’t very good at that and English took advantage. It was also very nice to see how relentless the pass rush was. I thought Kam Wilson and Stephon Herron were great on this play. Wilson works inside to get a part of the sack and Herron occupies two blockers and continues to go hard even though he doesn’t have a chance to get the sack.