Louisville recovered for a stretch after major disappointments early in the year dashed many of its aspirations.
No. 24 North Carolina State looks to show similar resiliency when the Atlantic Coast Conference teams meet Saturday in Louisville, Ky.
The host Cardinals (6-4, 3-4 ACC) won four games in a row before last week’s loss at Clemson, but there’s still time for more special moments.
“I want them to have great memories when they leave Louisville and part of that is to go out there and win these games,” Cardinals coach Scott Satterfield said.
NC State (7-3, 3-3), which has been in the rankings all season, lost its home finale last week to struggling Boston College. Already without a spot in the ACC championship game, it was another dent on a once-promising season.
“We still have opportunities in front of us that allow us to have, albeit not the season we thought at the beginning with what we’ve dealt with, a great season here still,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “The guys all understand that. It’s just being honest with them, not sugarcoating anything, letting them talk as well and say how they feel.”
Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham has an ailing right shoulder from an injury suffered against Clemson. It sounds like the Cardinals will be cautious with him leading to this game.
“As we go throughout the week, we’ll have a better idea of where he’s at,” Satterfield said. “We’ll see how quickly that can heal up.”
Satterfield said Cunningham has been smarter when running the football to try to dodge hits when he can.
NC State has already seen the pluses and negatives in breaking in a new quarterback in midseason. MJ Morris helped pull out a victory against Virginia Tech, and then made his first career start in the loss to Boston College.
Morris was dinged by second-half turnovers.
“We don’t expect him to be perfect,” Doeren said. “Anytime any player, freshman up to senior, makes a mistake, you’re going to evaluate it, and you’re going to try and help them through it. All you ask is that they learn from it.”
The Wolfpack failed to score a touchdown after the first quarter of the Boston College game. So there’s an uneasiness going against a Louisville defense that has shown a recent knack for forcing turnovers.
“They bring a lot of pressure,” Doeren said of the Cardinals. “They’re aggressive, and they have good players.”
NC State will be playing two games in less than a week with a Black Friday matchup at rival North Carolina. The focus on getting things right begins at Louisville.
“We look forward to another talented team and a chance to compete, and a road game at that,” Doeren said. “I look forward to that opportunity with our players with these two games. We’ve got a lot on our plate.”
Louisville leads the all-time series 6-4, but NC State has won three of the last four meetings, including 28-13 last season in Raleigh, N.C.
–Field Level Media