BOZICH | Post-Snap Read: Louisville defense, Petrino "not getting it done"
Louisville's defensive issues continued Thursday night as the Cardinals sagged to 1-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference while losing at North Carolina State.
RALEIGH, N.C. (WDRB) – For nearly 60 minutes the two quarterbacks fussed and battled at raucous Carter-Finley Stadium, entertaining 56,107 fans, more than three dozen NFL scouts and a national TV audience.
For Louisville, Lamar Jackson reminded America that he can make something out of nothing as much as any player in college football.
Mr. Every Thing did many things for the Cardinals, passing for one touchdown and rushing for a pair while ringing up 427 yards on offense. His only major burp was forcing a pass into coverage in the final three minutes while trying to direct Louisville to a game-tying score. Threw the ball over the middle instead of finding an open receiver on the sideline.
That pass was tipped and transformed into a 25-yard North Carolina State touchdown on an interception, sealing the Wolfpack's 39-25 victory.
For N.C. State, quarterback Ryan Finley introduced himself to America as a quarterback capable of making a string of accurate throws without making any stupid ones. "We knew if we protected him tonight, he would tear their secondary apart," NC State coach Dave Doeren said.
In the end, Finley had more help, and NC State tore through the Louisville defense for 520 yards and triple the points the Wolfpack scored against U of L a year ago.. A stronger North Carolina State running game. Fewer dropped passes. Not as many missed tackles by the N.C. State defenders.
"We've got a lot of work to do," U of L coach Bobby Petrino said. "I'm not getting it done. I've got to do a better job with our coaches, do a better job with our players and get back on the right track."
Finley might not be a better quarterback, but he is the quarterback who has his team in position to challenge Clemson at the top the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
A year after they were dispatched by the Cardinals, 54-13, in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, the Wolfpack dropped a 55-point turnaround on Petrino's team.
Make it North Carolina State 39, Louisville 25 – and make a note that NC State never trailed. That's 39 points by an NC State program that had scored only 44 points against Louisville the last three seasons.
Make a note that the Wolfpack put 520 yards on the Cardinals. Last season former U of L defensive coordinator Todd Grantham cooked up series of blitzes that limited Finley to completing 16 of 31 passes for 236 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Thursday, Finley was 20 of 31 for 367 yards with a touchdown but no interceptions.
Make another note that the Cardinals sagged to 4-2 overall but 1-2 in ACC play, essentially eliminating themselves from their pre-season goal of winning the Atlantic Division title.
As long as you’re making notes, make a third one that with three wins in three league games, Wolfpack and coach Dave Doeren have vaulted over the Cards and Petrino in the ACC Atlantic food chain.
By The Numbers Look at The Game:
O – points each team scored in the first quarter, the first scoreless opening quarter for the Cardinals or the Wolfpack.
.100 – Bobby Petrino’s record vs. ranked teams during the last three-plus seasons at Louisville. The Cardinals’ only win came against Florida State last season. They’ve lost to Clemson (currently ranked second) and the Wolfpack (24th) this season. None of Louisville’s six remaining opponents are currently ranked
2 -- significant injuries suffered by the Cardinals. Linebacker Stacy Thomas (leg) and halfback Malik Williams (arm) exited in the second half and did not return to the game. Petrino did not have an update on either player.
2 – offensive linemen who left the game with injuries in the first half for NC State. The Wolfpack lost guard Terrone Prescod in the first quarter and starting center Garrett Bradbury had his helmet taken away after he went down in the second quarter.
3 – game Louisville winning streak in this series that ended. The Cards had not lost an ACC game against the Wolfpack and beaten N. C. State in six of the first seven meetings between the programs.
10 – a nod to No. 10, Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander who returned in limited action after missing the last four games with a leg injury that he suffered during the Cardinals’ opening game against Purdue. But even Alexander had a tough night, getting beat several times.
24.4 – passing yards per completion allowed by the Louisville defense in the first half. When I described the Cardinals’ first-half tackling as sloppy, I was criticized for being charitable on Twitter. State finished at 18.4 yards per completion.
35 – yard field goal missed by North Carolina State on the Wolfpack’s opening drive of the second half.
37.3 -- average number of points allowed by the Louisville defense in four games against Purdue, North Carolina, Clemson and N.C. State, its four Power Five opponents this season.
39 – career rushing touchdowns by Jackson, who danced through the Wolfpack for a 4-yard score less than three minutes into the fourth quarter and then added another from three yards. The second TD gave Jackson the record for rushing TD by an ACC quarterback.
"He's electric," said NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb. "He's fast. He can do a lot of things with his feet and his arms."
40 – NFL scouts who were issued press box credentials for the game, representing 24 teams.
48 – distance of career longest field goal by Louisville’s Blanton Creque, who also converted from 28 yards at the end of the second quarter. Creque has made nine straight kicks this season and 14 consecutive since 2016. The kicker, however, did have an extra point blocked in the fourth quarter.
81 – Sagarin computer power rating of Boston College, Louisville’s next opponent. The Cards will host the Golden Eagles on Oct. 14. BC has lost three of its first five games and figures to slip to 2-4 after playing Virginia Tech this weekend. Louisville defeated BC 52-7 last season in Chesnut Hill, Mass.
223 -- passing attempts without an interception this season by Finley. Jackson's interception was his fourth in 222 attempts.
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