BOZICH | Eight takes on Louisville's season-changing win at N.C. - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Eight takes on Louisville's season-changing win at N.C. State

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Bobby Petrino's Louisville team improved to 2-3 by winning at North Carolina State Saturday. Bobby Petrino's Louisville team improved to 2-3 by winning at North Carolina State Saturday.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WDRB) – This was the game that the University of Louisville football team needed to make November interesting. This was the game the Cardinals needed to win to wipe away some of the sting from Houston and Clemson defeats.

Lose and the Cards would be parked at the bottom of the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference with Wake Forest and Boston College. Win and the Cards would bubble into the middle of the pack -- and carry a two-game winning streak to Florida State.

This was the game the Cardinals got – 20-13 over unbeaten (and untested) North Carolina State. Mark it down as Louisville’s first Atlantic Coast Conference win, their first road win and their most impressive win of the 2015 season.

The Cards improved to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the ACC while moving into an off week.

Eight Things To Remember:

GOT THE JOB DONE: Todd Grantham’s defense.

N. C. State entered the game averaging 259 yards rushing as the Wolfpack rolled to four straight victories over modest competition. They had only turned the ball over two times. They had averaged more than 46 points per game.

The Wolfpack ran for 45 yards against Louisville, averaging 1.5 yards per carry. They lost a pair of fumbles. They huffed and puffed to score one touchdown in each half. Louisville looked stronger, tougher, better.

“We’re pretty good on defense,” U of L coach Bobby Petrino said. “We have pretty good defensive front guys that play fast. I felt that we controlled the line of scrimmage at the end.”

In their final five possessions, N. C. State managed 47 yards and two first downs. The U of L defensive stopped the Wolfpack on downs at their 14-yard line on the final possession.

“I said all week their strength was their defensive line,” North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren said. “They are big up front and have a really good defensive line. It was hard for us to get going in the running game.”

The pressure from the defensive front was persistent and effective.

DIDN’T GET THE JOB DONE: The Cards’ offensive line.

Petrino still needs to upgrade his team’s blocking. Quarterback Lamar Jackson was sacked three times. The only reason that number was not more was Jackson’s ability to dance away from trouble.

The running game was better, but still not what Louisville will need to beat Florida State, Pittsburgh or Kentucky. The Cardinals averaged 4.5 yards per rush, but managed only 10 first downs running the ball.

Neither Brandon Radcliff (37 yards) nor Jeremy Smith (33) was able to contribute 50 yards. Most of the yardage (121) was a creation of Jackson’s athleticism.

TURNING POINT: Jackson’s 20-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Devante  Peete midway through the second quarter.

Jackson started the scoring with an electric 68-yard run in the first quarter, but his touchdown pass to Peete was more decisive.

State appeared shocked that he threw the ball on third-and-eight. He made a crisp throw to Peete into the end zone. The touchdown put North Carolina State down by 14 points for the first time this season.

The Wolfpack did not have the offensive firepower to recover.

“I think it’s important for us to play with the lead because we have really good pass rushers and guys that can get to the quarterback and make them throw the ball,” Petrino said.

SURPRISE! SURPRISE! Receiver Jamari Staples made his first appearance.

Louisville has relied on a young, inexperienced group of receivers this season because James Quick (ankle) and Staples (knee) were sidelined by injuries. It was not clear with Staples would return.

Staples, a transfer from UAB, returned Saturday. He caught a pair of passes for 22 yards

WDRB PLAYER OF THE GAME: Lamar Jackson.

The freshman quarterback has considerable work to do to become a finished product, especially passing the football. He completed only 10 of 27 throws. But he passed and ran for more than 100 yards against the Wolfpack. More important, Jackson did not suffer any turnovers.

His 68-yard touchdown run in the first quarter not only gave Louisville the lead they did not surrender, it was also Jackson’s fifth rushing touchdown this season.

“Their quarterback made some nice runs,” Doeren said.

STAT OF THE DAY: 12 – the number of incompletions thrown by North Carolina State quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

That’s worth noting because Brissett only had 21 incompletions in N.C. State’s first four games. After completing nearly 78 percent of his passes to start the season, Brissett labored to complete 57 percent against Louisville. State managed only four first downs in the first half and 11 in the game. Brissett never got on an extended roll and frequently ran away from pressure.

WHAT WE LEARNED: Louisville can win employing the same formula that led to nine victories last season – unyielding defense and a few big offensive plays.

Petrino and Doeren were impressed by the work of the Louisville defense. They should have been. The Cards forced North Carolina State into seven punts and two fumbles on the Wolfpack’s 13 possessions.

“They won the line of scrimmage,” Doeren said. “We didn’t run the ball like we have been this season. They are a good team.”

UP NEXT: The Cardinals have time to heal, refresh and refocus. No game next weekend. Louisville is booked at Florida State Oct. 17. The Seminoles are 3-0 and ranked 11th in the Associated Press poll. Florida State beat Wake Forest, 24-16, Saturday, and the Seminoles host Miami next Saturday. U of L lost a home game to FSU last season, 42-31.

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