Football is a team sport, but the chance to watch NC State senior defensive end Bradley Chubb battle Louisville junior quarterback Lamar Jackson is must-see television at 8 p.m. tonight.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has Chubb ranked No. 12 for the 2018 NFL Draft, and has Jackson slotted for No. 17. Todd McShay, who is Kiper’s partner in crime at ESPN, ranks Chubb at No. 14, but does not have Jackson projected to go in the first round.
Chubb understands the dual threat abilities that the 6-foot-3, 211-pound Jackson represents after facing two consecutive years. Jackson has rushed for over 100 yards in 16 career games for the Cardinals.
“He is definitely one of the best players,” Chubb said. “That still holds true. He is great with his feet and great with his arm. We just have to do a good job of containing him. We can’t let him be the reason that we lose.”
Chubb has been named the ACC defensive lineman of the week the last two weeks. The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder has 29 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and one big forced fumble against Florida State in five games this season. Chubb is second all-time at NC State behind Mario Williams with 46 career tackles for loss and is seventh at NCSU with 21.5 sacks.
“We embrace it [the Thursday night spotlight], but we don’t look too much on it,” Chubb said. “We don’t change who we are with what the stage is or who we are playing. We are going out there and playing to the best of our abilities and do everything coach asks us to do.”
Chubb and Jackson have matched up the last two years, with the Cardinals winning both contests. Jackson went 20-of-34 passing for 355 yards and three touchdowns, but was sacked four times in a 54-14 win over the Wolfpack last year. He also added 17 carries for 76 yards and a score.
Jackson made his first ACC start against NC State on Oct. 3, 2015. He helped UL win 20-13 and had a memorable 68-yard touchdown run to start the scoring. Jackson went 10-of-27 passing for 103 yards and a touchdown, and rushed 19 times for 121 yards and the aforementioned score, but was also sacked another four times.
NC State has sacked Jackson eight times the last two years and Chubb has two of them. He had five tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack last year. He tallied four tackles and a sack in the 2015 meeting.
“He is going to make plays, but we can’t those big plays turn into touchdowns,” Chubb said.
Jackson had played extensively in three games before the 2015 meeting. Chubb knew that Jackson would be a problem in future meetings.
“We definitely knew it,” Chubb said. “Watching his film against other teams we saw how elusive he was.”
Chubb knows the tone and mood of the Wolfpack program is in a different place compared to previous meetings against Louisville.
“It’s definitely a totally different vibe around here,” Chubb said. “We have a 1-0 mentality now, so even if we were to lose last week [vs. Syracuse], we would have shook it off and prepared for this week.”
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