Oct 9, 2021; Louisville, Kentucky, USA;  Louisville Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham (3) looks to pass the ball against the Virginia Cavaliers during the first half at Cardinal Stadium. Virginia defeated Louisville 34-33. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

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Still focused on ACC title game, NC State tangles with Louisville

North Carolina State would be best advised to look at what’s coming up because the Wolfpack might not be able to afford another stumble in their quest to reach the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game for the first time.

A matchup with visiting Louisville on Saturday night at Raleigh, N.C., is the next assignment.

The Wolfpack won’t dwell on the “what-if” elements of the past.

“I think when you start thinking about stuff like that, that’s when your season goes south,” NC State linebacker Drake Thomas said. “When you start thinking of ‘what if’ and what could have been, what should have been, it’s over. You can’t change it now.”

The Wolfpack (5-2, 2-1 ACC) dropped out of the Top 25 after a 31-30 loss at Miami on Saturday. NC State had spent four weeks in the ratings, rising as high as No. 18.

“There’s still a lot still in front of us,” NC State coach Dave Doeren said. “We got to pick these guys back up and get back to work. Get their spirits back up.”

Louisville (4-3, 2-2) knows how to recover from disappointment. The Cardinals bounced back from a one-point loss to Virginia by beating Boston College 28-14 last week.

A combination of a revived rushing attack and a stingy defense proved beneficial for the Cardinals.

“I think this is what we can be,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. “We have to continue to get better. We have to develop, and these young guys are starting to make plays (on defense), which is awesome. I think obviously they’re going to keep getting better.”

The Cardinals rushed for a season-high 331 yards in the Boston College game, with quarterback Malik Cunningham running for three touchdowns. That ground attack helped Louisville overcome four turnovers.

“He’s a really good athlete, but he’s also an extreme competitor, and I think that just fuels him to try to get first downs and to make the play,” Satterfield said of Cunningham. “Sometimes that gets him in trouble, but you love the spirit he has and the way he plays.”

Confidence shouldn’t be a problem for the Cardinals.

“We just have to be consistent,” Louisville linebacker Dorian Jones said. “I’ve seen it in practice. I’ve seen it in spring ball. I’ve seen it in camp. We just have to be consistent and play our game.”

NC State, which will be playing on homecoming weekend, has concerns because linebacker Isaiah Moore sustained a season-ending injury Saturday. Standout linebacker Payton Wilson was lost for the year in the second game.

“The injuries are piling up a little bit,” said Doeren, who also announced that left guard Chandler Zavala is lost for the season.

NC State kicker Christopher Dunn became the program’s career scoring leader with a first-quarter field goal at Miami. However, he appeared to be injured following a fourth-quarter kick shortly after tumbling on a running-into-the-kicker penalty on Miami.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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