NC State put on a clinic in self-destruction on Saturday afternoon at Carter-Finley stadium, ruining drive after drive with turnovers on its way to a 29-10 loss to Louisville. The Pack falls to 1-4 on the season, and has committed 18 turnovers in its first five games this season.
"On offense all we did was we stopped ourselves," O'Brien said.
Running back Andre Brown put the ball on the ground twice. Quarterback Harrison Beck contributed two interceptions and a fumble, with two of the turnovers coming inside the Louisville 30-yard line. Beck ended up leaving the game with a shoulder injury in the third quarter, returning to the sidelines with a sling.
"He has a shoulder [injury], that's all I know," O'Brien said.
The offense didn't fair much better with Daniel Evans in the game, scoring a quick touchdown before falling silent again. Meanwhile the Louisville offense started clicking late, scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns on an exhausted Wolfpack defense.
The Pack defense held Brian Brohm to just one touchdown pass and 251 yards passing, but the Louisville offense was content to run the ball all day. The Cardinals rushed for 247 yards, and held the ball for over 38 minutes compared to just 85 rushing yards and 22 minutes for the Pack. Those 38 minutes was the longest the Pack defense has allowed opponents to hold the ball since 2002, and the Pack has now allowed over 1,100 yards of offense in its last two games.
"For a while there it didn't look like we were ever going to get the ball back," O'Brien said. "They had it the whole first half I think."
Louisville wasted no time in putting its first points on the board to start the game, with Anthony Allen running in for a seven yard touchdown. The Pack allowed the Cardinals ton convert on three third downs on the drive, including a 3rd-and-13 that would have forced Louisville off the field after just three plays.
The two teams exchanged blown scoring opportunities on the next few possessions. The Cardinals marched down to the Pack's 23-yard line, but DeAndre Morgan blocked the 39-yard field goal attempt to keep the score 7-0 in favor of the Cardinals. On the ensuing possession, the Pack put together a quick-hitting drive and quickly found itself deep in Cardinal territory. But on third-and-eight from the Louisville 22-yard line, Beck overthrew Owen Spencer deep down the middle of the field, and Louisville's Johnny Patrick snatched the ball in the end zone for Beck's first pick of the day, eliminating the Pack's chances of getting on the scoreboard.
"There were a couple of tough series in there where we could have put points on the board that really could have made a difference in this football game," O'Brien said.
The Wolfpack offense continued to give away points throughout the first half, trying its best to turn the game into a blowout. After a Louisville field goal, Beck threw his second interception of the game on a poor throw deep in his own territory. The Pack defense held strong, holding the Cards to another field goal to make it 13-0. On its next possession, Brown followed a fantastic 44-yard run with a fumble on the next play to give the ball right back.
"You just can't turn the ball over the way we do," O'Brien said.
State finally got on the board late in the second quarter, marching down to the Louisville 25-yard line but having to settle for a 42-yard field goal. The Cardinals answered right back to end the half, kicking a field goal as time expired to take a 16-3 lead into the locker room.
Halfway through the third quarter, the Pack put up its first touchdown but lost its starting quarterback in the process. Beck was hit hard on the first play of the drive, as two Louisville defenders drove the quarterback into the ground while he tried to throw it away. But on the next play Beck hit wide receiver Donal Bowens for a 53-yard catch, only to walk off the field and into the locker room to have his shoulder X-rayed.
With Evans now at the helm, the Pack finally punched it info a touchdown, as Evans play-faked to Brown and then threw to a wide open Cedric Hickman in the endzone to make it a six point game.
"We got it into a situation where it was less than a touchdown going into the fourth quarter against a good football team," O'Brien said. "We like the situation we were in."
But the Cards answered back, scoring just their second touchdown of game to make it 22-10 after a failed two-point conversion. Louisville, as it did throughout the game, used its ground attack to wear down the Pack. Brock Bolen finished the drive with a two-yard touchdown run. The Cardinals scored its final touchdown a few plays later, as Brohm connected on an 18-yard touchdown to running back George Stripling.