N.C. State’s defensive line, led by top-10 NFL Draft prospect Bradley Chubb, alway presents a problem for opposing offenses.
For Louisville, whose offensive line has largely struggled over the last season and a half, containing the Wolfpack defensive front could be the biggest key to the game. Cardinals head coach Bobby Petrino said as much in his news conference Wednesday.
“They’ve got a very good defensive front,” Petrino said. “Seems like we’ve been playing against them forever. We’re going to have a challenge. … Certainly that’s going to be a big part of this football game.”
N.C. State ranks eighth nationally in rush defense, allowing an average of 85.6 yards per game on the ground. The Wolfpack are also tied for 21st nationally in sacks, with 13 through five games. Chubb has accounted for 5.5 of those sacks, which is tied for the fourth-most in the country.
Louisville’s offensive line, meanwhile, did not give up a sack in its season-opener against Purdue but has surrendered 11 sacks in the four games since. Still, that’s an improvement from last season, when Louisville ranked 126th out of 128 teams in the FBS after allowing 47 sacks in 13 games.
Petrino said he believes Louisville offensive front is better than a year ago, when the Cardinals put up 54 points in a blowout win over the Wolfpack but gave up four sacks. Still, he said the Cardinals will need to be on their A-game, especially in a hostile road environment.
In order to stop Chubb in particular, Petrino said the Cardinals will need to use tight ends and running backs to provide help to their tackles. Louisville’s offense will also need to make a less schematic adjustment: matching the energy and effort brought by Chubb on each play.
“He’s one of those guys that plays with great effort, so we’ve got to be able to match the effort,” Petrino said. “We’ve got to work hard on our technique and know where our help is and get some help from tight ends and running backs and the things that you do to help chip on a great player like that.”
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