It was an off-day for Jacoby Brissett.
The senior signal-caller entered leading the nation in completion percentage, and he did complete 16-of-28 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown, but he never really settled in.
The weather may have played a factor, but he skipped a few passes, didn't see open receivers on occasion, but perhaps the biggest problem was he didn't factor in the running game. Normally a crafty runner who can extend plays and scramble for first downs, Brissett seemed stuck in mud as a runner... finishing with -26 yards on 10 carries with a long of three yards.
NC State needs Brissett on top of his game to defeat similar competition, and that wasn't the case against Louisville.
"If I make those throws at the end it's a different ballgame," he said. "I just have to look at it and see why I didn't make them. They gave us the right coverage for each one of them. It's just a matter of me doing my job."
Sophomore tight end/fullback Jaylen Samuels might be NC State's best offensive player, and he was productive on Saturday. Samuels led the Wolfpack in receiving, catching five passes for 75 yards and a touchdown, but he never received a carry. His score was a bubble screen on 3rd and 7 from the Louisville 21, and it was his last touch in the game... at the 7:56 mark in the third quarter.
That's not going to get it done.
Jaylen Samuels now has nine touchdowns in five games, second-most in the ACC behind Matt Dayes. He's also third in the ACC in receptions (25) and fourth in receiving yards (300). Because he can line up all over the field, NC State has to find a way to get him more involved. Maybe he needs more carries or quick screens in space. Either way, he has to touch the ball more than five times and can't go the last 20+ minutes of a one-score contest without touching the football.
He's just too valuable to the offense.
"We knew it was going to be a four-quarter game," said Samuels. "It just didn't turn out our way."
Matt Dayes did have a fumble, but he also scored one of the Wolfpack's two touchdowns and grinded out 69 yards on 19 carries. He added 22 more yards on three catches.
Dayes only had seven carries in the first half, but the Wolfpack ran just 23 first-half plays, mainly due to the defense's inability to get off the field and State not being able to convert on third down.
The junior didn't put up his normal stat line with a full workload, but he remains a critical component of the Wolfpack offense.
He's not technically an offensive starter, but punter A.J. Cole deserves a lot of credit. The true freshman has been really solid for the Wolfpack.
Playing in less than ideal conditions, Cole punted seven times with an average of 41.3 yards per punt. He had two punts downed inside the 20-yard line and added a 53-yard punt. More importantly, he limited Louisville's returners to -5 return yards with terrific height on his kicks, and he nearly had a fumble recovered on a punt for the second straight game.
D It wasn't a good day for the Wolfpack, and realistically, this grade probably should be lower.
13 points. 228 yards of total offense. Two turnovers.
The big play was the Jumichael Ramos fumble in the first quarter. Ramos was tackled inside the ten-yard line, and if NC state could have scored there who knows how that would have impacted the rest of the game. Instead, Ramos fumbled, Louisville recovered it, and marched down the field to take a 7-0 lead.
"If we score on that drive, which I think we would have because we've been good inside the five, that's seven points for us," said Doeren. "It ended up going the other way for them... a 14-point swing."
Overall, NC State wasn't really good in any phase offensively. They struggled establishing the run, couldn't hit any explosive plays, and never got Brissett in rhythm.
"Louisville played well on defense," said Doeren. "They won the line of scrimmage in my opinion. We didn't run the ball the way we have been running. When we did drop back at times there was pressure."