NC State-Louisville grades: Lamar Jackson dominant as Cardinals roll

The highest-graded players and biggest takeaways from Louisville's blowout win over NC State.

| 8 months ago
(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

NC State-Louisville grades: Lamar Jackson dominant as Cardinals roll

Louisville Cardinals 54, NC State Wolfpack 13

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways for Louisville’s 54-13 win over NC State.

NC State Wolfpack

Quarterback grade: Ryan Finley, 44.2

Rough game for Finley

It was an ugly game for Finley from the outset, as he missed a number of throws and forced two passes for easy interceptions while dropping the snap multiple times in the pocket. He was inaccurate for the second straight week and after taking great care of the ball the first few weeks of the season, Finley has had far too many turnover-worthy plays over the last two games.


Top offensive grades:

G Terronne Prescod, 74.9
LT Tyler Jones, 73.7
RG Tony Adams, 71.7
WR Stephen Louis, 70.6
WR Nyheim Hines, 68.9

Offense gets little going until it’s too late

There were not many bright spots for the offense as Finley’s inconsistency hurt the passing game while the offensive line did little to help the running backs in the run game. Finley was kept relatively clean in pass protection as he was pressured on only five of his 27 dropbacks and the line did grade well across the board in that department. After carrying the workload with a strong game last week (22 carries, 106 yards), and rushing for over 100 yards in five of six games coming in, RB Matthew Dayes was limited to five carries for 13 yards.

Top defensive grades:

ED Bradley Chubb, 83.3
DI Eurndraus Bryant, 78.9
CB Jack Tocho, 78.8
S Josh Jones, 78.5
DI Monty Nelson, 77.2

Defense gives up too many big plays in pass game

There were far too many chunk plays given up on the defensive side, including a touchdown passes of 74 yards and a 67-yarder that was stopped just short of the end zone. The 54 points may be a bit misleading as the defense was backed up often in the first half, and there were a few strong individual performances. Edge rusher Bradley Chubb continues his strong season with a sack, QB hit, and four hurries on 32 rushes while leading the team with five total stops. However, giving up 390 yards on 21 completions (18.6 yards/completion) ultimately did them in. 238 of those passing yards came in between the numbers and the poor grades from NC State’s linebackers and safeties reflect it.

Louisville Cardinals

Quarterback grade: Lamar Jackson, 85.6

Jackson dominates on the ground and through the air

It was another strong all-around game for Jackson, who rushed for 104 yards on 13 carries (ignore the NCAA box score that says 76 yards on 17 carries due to sacks). He graded at 93.9 as a runner, but also made a number of nice throws, including a post for a 74-yard touchdown and another post into an even tighter window for a 16-yard score. While Jackson had the usual number of misses that plague him as a passer, he continues to make strides throwing the ball overall and that makes him all the more dangerous moving forward.



Top offensive grades:

QB Lamar Jackson, 85.6
TE Cole Hikutini, 82.1
WR Jaylen Smith, 76.9
RB Jeremy Smith, 72.4
G Khalil Hunter, 68.0

Receivers create big plays in the pass game

It was Jaylen Smith on the receiving end of Jackson’s 74-yard touchdown as he ran away from the entire NC State defense for the score. TE Cole Hikutini took advantage of a coverage bust for his 67-yarder and also found the end zone for a 3-yard score. The running game wasn’t anything special outside of Jackson’s usual fine work, though RB Jeremy Smith made the most of subpar run blocking up front and he scored two touchdowns of his own. LG Khalil Hunter wasn’t great as a run blocker but he had a clean day in pass protection and led the way with an 84.4 grade in that department.

Top defensive grades:

CB Trumaine Washington, 83.5
CB Jaire Alexander, 82.7
LB Keith Kelsey, 82.2
DI DeAngelo Brown, 79.5
S Chucky Williams, 77.7

Defense shuts down the run, creates big plays in dominant outing

CB Trumaine Washington made a great break on the ball to secure Finley’s first interception and he added another pass defensed while only allowing a solitary 3-yard gain for his only completion on three targets. CB Jaire Alexander was strong on the other side despite giving up a touchdown as he gave up only 22 yards on three receptions while getting his hand on one pass. LB Keith Kelsey did his best work in the run game where he led the team with five stops while DI DeAngelo Brown was disruptive against both run and pass while finishing with a QB hit and two hurries to lead Louisville with three total pressures.

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

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