NC State’s season hit an inflection point following last Thursday’s come from ahead loss to Wake Forest. With its landmark goals now out of reach, the Pack was ripe for a tailspin like the one that torpedoed the 2016 team. Thankfully, there was Louisville.
Louisville sucks. The Cardinals are among the worst ACC teams in the modern era of the league and the Pack was never going to lose this game. State absorbed Louisville’s early blitz of energy and took over the game with its effective use of being way better at football. Somewhere in the third quarter, the Cards called it a day and State was able to pour on the points for its best output of the season.
A Ryan Finley that’s executing is pretty much impossible to stop (only Eliah Drinkwitz has done that successfully), and Louisville certainly wasn’t going to do it. It was an easy day for the veteran as he coasted to 300+ yards and four touchdowns. Appreciate this man for the time he’s here.
The running game even got going a little bit in the second half, and it helped spark a redzone offense that has depended heavily on it for some reason. State had started running the ball pretty well at the start of conference play, and it’s been weird to watch a veteran offensive line regress to the product we saw against Wake’s ghastly run defense. Pass protection has been excellent most of the year, but there’s been a peculiar inability to run block over the last couple of weeks, and maybe Saturday’s glimpse of improvement can provide a re-enlightenment on how it’s done.
And it probably needs to, because lord knows the staff will continue to force its running scheme into the role of catalyst and hope its NFL quarterback and NFL receivers can bail them out if it doesn’t work. It makes no sense, but it’s what NC State wants to be, so it’s what NC State will be damn it!
Louisville catered to State’s defensive needs as well on Saturday. The Pack’s pass defense is actually the worst in the entire country from a YPG standpoint. So a player who cannot throw a forward pass playing quarterback is just what the doctor ordered. State was barely tested down the field and the secondary escaped Louisville unscathed. Chris Ingram, who has been abused in man coverage since the Clemson game, did have a nice PBU on one of the few accurate throws of the day.
If you’re keeping a forward looking perspective on things, perhaps the most exciting part of the game was getting to see Matt McKay play some football. He’s played sparingly and rarely had the opportunity to lead a real drive. Saturday was his first it was fun to watch.
The first thing you notice about McKay is the speed at which the ball gets out of his hand. He’s got a pretty good arm and his release is lightning quick. Accuracy might need some work, but that’s not something to draw a conclusion on from one drive. What is conclusion worthy is the difference he can make with his legs. Having that kind of quarterback is not something that can be compensated for and it gives McKay an extra dimension to be excited about as next year’s quarterback battle nears.
Lousiville was State’s ‘get right game’ and they got right. The Pack needed this and hopefully an actual beatdown of an ACC foe can build some confidence going forward, because there’s something important on the horizon. It’s coming and oh god it’s hideous. What is that thing? They’re talking about the roof and the ceiling as if they’re a unified entity. It’s a football team but they’re all wearing basketball jerseys. . .