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Time is something this season’s N.C. State football team does not have.
There is no time for slip-ups if the Wolfpack is going to be bowl eligible. There is no time for looking back at what could have been. And there is little time to prepare for the next challenge.
N.C. State has to quickly shrug off its home loss Saturday to Louisville — a game that was winnable in every aspect — and move on to Thursday’s game at Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets are coming off of a resounding 45-0 thumping at home to a resurgent Virginia Tech squad. It would seem like the ideal moment for N.C. State to snap out of its funk.
The Wolfpack (4-6) cannot afford to let its four-game losing streak increase to five.
“I think they understand that it’s sudden-death mentality if you’re thinking bowl season, but we’ve got to win this one first,” N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren said. “It’s the only one that matters. If you get this one, then you can talk about that. I will tell you that the senior class has never finished a season not in a bowl game, so those guys are talking about that.”
In its 34-20 loss to Louisville, the Pack led at halftime and was the better team for long periods of the contest.
What N.C. State could not do was keep possession of the ball on offense and limit explosion plays on defense. The Wolfpack turned the ball over three times while the Cardinals protected the ball. Louisville quarterback Macale Cunningham threw for 242 yards Saturday but three of his four touchdown tosses were for a combined 159 yards. The Cards converted 8-of-14 third-down attempts.
Louisville outscored N.C. State 20-0 in the third quarter.
“Losing the turnover battle and the third quarter of that football game cost us the opportunity to win,” Doeren said Monday. “It is a short week. It’s already game-week ‘Wednesday,’ so there’s no rest for the weary. We woke up the day after the game, and it was already ‘Tuesday.’ We’ve got to get on a plane here Wednesday, head down to Georgia, and play Georgia Tech.”
Emeka Emezie finished with 90 yards on eight receptions for one of his best individual efforts of the campaign.
“It’s tough,” Emezie said. “We knew we could beat this team. We can beat this team, but there were some mistakes that kind of cost us the game. We’ve just got to bounce back. We just can’t play with any excuses. We’ve just got to fight, and we can’t make mistakes. Regardless of whatever it is, we just can’t make mistakes. That’s all it is.”
Emezie and the Pack will have to take Doeren’s heed and move quickly in terms of forgetting the past and focusing on a quick turnaround.
“It’s tough, but we have positive coaches and positive guys. They’re always telling us to bounce back. We’ve just got to get back in tomorrow, attack the day, and get ready for Georgia Tech.”
HALL COMMITS TO PACK
Josh Hall a 6-foot-9 guard from Durham attending Moravian Prep in Hickory, announced via social media that he is committed to N.C. State.
Hall is the fifth class of 2020 player to commit to the Wolfpack, joining the in-state trio of Nick Farrar, Cam Hayes, and Shakeel Moore as well as Ebenezer Dowuona of Georgia.
The addition of Hall bolsters an already impressive class for N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts. Hall is a five-star recruit according to Rivals. The Wolfpack commitment list for the class of 2020 now rates as the fifth-best in the nation on 24/7’s national rankings.
In addition to N.C. State, Hall held offers from DePaul, Louisville, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Kansas, St. John’s and Texas along with several others.
“At the Midnight Madness thing the atmosphere was crazy,” Hall said of a recent trip to N.C. State. The whole visit was crazy. (Keatts and I) have a good relationship. Time to time he is checking on me and my family to see how we are doing. I check with him to see how he and his family are. I feel like I can play (positions) 1 through 4. They run a lot of ball screens. They play intense.”
Rob McLamb of Inside Pack Sports has covered N.C. State athletics and recruiting since 2012. You can follow him on Twitter @RobMcLamb.