SHOT #1: Don’t let the Malik Cunningham beat you with his legs
Louisville QB Malik Cunningham has 3,175 rushing yards and 49 rushing TDs in his career, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Those numbers, by the way, are not adjusted to remove sacks.
The. Man. Can. Run.
He’s absolutely electric and can dominate a game with his legs if you don’t account for him. The Cardinals as a whole run the ball very well. As we’ve noted here countless times, the one serious knock with Tony Gibson’s Wolfpack defense is that it can be (and too often times has been) prone to giving up huge rushing yards by the QB.
If the Wolfpack have any shot at slowing down a Louisville offense, it has to start with not allowing Cunningham to run free on them.
SHOT #2: Don’t be scared with the offense
Didn’t we, like, just talk about this? Oh, yes. Yes, we did.
Well, here we are again. After whatever the heck that was last week against Boston College, I’m here again pleading, but with a slightly different variation on “just do something on offense”.
Don’t be scared with the offense.
Coaches will lose a game - and an entire unit, if not more of the team - if they play scared and don’t put the trust in that unit to do what they were brought there to do. In this case, it’s the offense.
Turnovers are going to happen; that’s just part of the game. Everyone knows how dang good this NC State defense is, but essentially telling the offense, “Don’t you f*** this up for us! Sit down and let your brothers handle this!” is not going to cut it.
There are weapons on this team, and they can and will make plays if given the opportunity. We’ve seen that in wins over Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Bland runs, short passes, and turnover-averse playcalling are not going to be enough to win this game.
Taking the air out of the ball and playing to win a one-score game leaves you with zero margin for error should a turnover actually happen. We saw that last week.
You know what takes the pressure off the defense? Having a multiple score lead. You know what’s not going to allow for a multiple score lead? Doing what NC State’s offense did last week.
If the Wolfpack are going to have a shot at the road victory on Saturday, the coaches are going to have to not be scared with the ball and trust the offense to do their job.
SHOT #3: Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon
The game is in Kentucky, so what’s more fitting than a bourbon with a tiny race horse on top?
Blanton’s is, by far, the most expensive liquor I’ve recommended in this series, but it is remarkable and - assuming you’re not going to burn through a bottle in a single sitting - worth the money.
I really don’t need to sell you on this one.
So go have a shot, have a drink, have fun... and Go State!