NC State’s efficient pass game has hit on all cylinders this season. Led by quarterback Ryan Finley, the Wolfpack rank inside the top 10 nationally in Success Rate on pass plays, per Football Study Hall. Finley, who is 172-of-248 (69.4 percent) through the air, is still the only player in the nation with 100-plus pass attempts that is yet to throw an interception.
The two main options are Jaylen Samuels and Kelvin Harmon; those two have combined for 120 targets, according to Football Study Hall. That accounts for over 47 percent of NC State’s pass targets. Additionally, Jakobi Meyers has transformed to a dangerous receiver in leverage situations.
Nyheim Hines is an all-purpose monster that needs 20-25 touches per game, too. So, where does that leave receiver Stephen Louis on the pecking order?
This is clearly a desirable concern to have: finding ways to spread the ball around to all of your playmakers. Louis is another vertical threat, like Harmon, and he certainly isn’t a forgotten man. However, is there an opportunity for him to big a bigger part of the game plan against Notre Dame?
The Pitt Game
Overall, Stephen Louis is targeted around the same clip this season as he was a year ago. In 2016, 16.7 percent of NC State’s passes went his direction; that’s down slightly to 13.8 percent in 2017 — fourth on the roster.
But a week after hauling in three passes for 99 yards against Louisville, Louis was blanked up in Pittsburgh. Not only did Louis not record a catch, but according to Football Study Hall, he didn’t receive a single target.
Notre Dame poses a lot of challenges
Notre Dame’s defense is really freaking good. The Irish are especially stingy against the pass This defense refuses to allow big plays — only five pass plays of 30-plus yards this season. According to Football Study Hall, Notre Dame ranks No. 25 in the FBS in Isolated Points per pass play allowed.
It’s a challenge to go vertically against this team, which is where Louis can have an impact. Louis, who has a solid catch rate of 71.4 percent, is one of only 14 qualified players in the ACC averaging at least 14 yards per catch.
The Irish will do whatever it takes to limit Hines and Samuels — the nuclei of NC State’s offense — as much as possible. This could leave terrain vacant down the field for Harmon and Louis. Alternatively, NC State could utilize those vertical threats to loosen up the box and middle of the field for Samuels and Hines.