The Beak Football Breakdown: Louisville vs. NC State


Once thought to be a cheap knockoff of Saturday College football the Thursday night college game has become a staple of the season. These Thursday night throw downs started off with much skepticism. Some college football fans and media folks thought that the Thursday night game degraded the product. As the popularity of the mid-week game has increased that negative talk has decreased and even the NFL is now cashing in on the market. The University of Louisville has been a part of ESPN Prime-time College Football Thursday nights since the late 90’s. They were playing on Thursdays before they were cool, and now prepare for another big midweek battle at NC State.

Thursday nights have also become a proving ground of sorts. Seems like there have been a few times where a win and loss here can determine how the rest of the season goes. Louisville holds a 6-1 record over the Wolfpack and are 2-0 in Raleigh. They’ll have to keep that winning streak alive if this season is to be considered a success. With a 2-1 record in the ACC the Cardinals can ill afford to drop another game with a challenging schedule ahead. This Louisville team also needs to go out and win this game for confidence. It’s been a while since this group has had a big win in a big prime time match-up.

The Cardinals defense allowed just 230 combined yards in the last two wins. That is the lowest total in back to back games in 57 years. But they will face one of the most efficient offenses in the country on Thursday night. The Wolfpack leads the ACC and ranks 7th in the FBS in completion percentage this week. NC State QB Ryan Finley is one of the nation’s most accurate passers, completing 71.9 percent of his throws, and hasn’t tossed an interception in 257 throws dating back to last season. He has passed for 1,403 yards and nine touchdowns in the first five games of the season. This guy knows how to pick apart a defense with his accuracy. Let’s just hope that the Cardinals defense can get a rush on him.

Finley’s favorite target is WR Jaylen Samuels who has 43 catches for 321 yards and three scores this season. He ranks 4th in the FBS this week in receptions per game with 8.6 and has caught a pass in 33 consecutive games. It doesn’t end there with this talented Wolfpack receiving corps. WR Kelvin Harmon (301 yards, 1TD) ranks 49th in the FBS in receptions per game (5.4), WR Stephen Louis (253 yards, 2TD) posts the 17th-best career yards-per-catch mark in school history: 15.7, and WR Jakobi Meyers (241 yards, 2TD) had 112 yards on five catches in their big win over FSU.

They have all the weapons to beat you through the air and then have guys like RB Nyhein Hines. There isn’t anything this guy can’t do. He currently ranks second in the ACC and ranks 10th nationally with 155 all-purpose yards per game. Hines has rushed for 423 yards (5.0 yards per carry), has 12 receptions for another 69 yards, has 40 yards on three punt returns (13.3) and 255 yards on 11 kickoff returns (23.2). Blocking up front for this talented group of skill position players is one of the best offensive lines in the country. They call themselves the Band of Brothers. The leader of this band is 322-pound RT Will Richardson. They will run a lot of plays behind this guy Thursday night. He has not allowed a sack OR a quarterback pressure in 215 snaps. He has also tallied 11 knockdown/pancake blocks over the past three games.

Stopping this group will be one of the biggest challenges remaining this season for the Louisville defense. After getting outplayed by Clemson the Louisville defense has responded well over the last two weeks in wins over Kent State and Murray State. Louisville limited the Golden Flashes to 150 yards of offense and 80 in the win over Murray State. Those performances moved the Cardinals’ defense to 20th nationally against the run yielding 104.5 yards per game and 27th in the country allowing 317.6 yards of offense. Coach Sirmon was also able to work some young guys into the mix. Guys like Amonte Caban, C.J. Avery, TreSean Smith, Tabarius Peterson and Russ Yeast showed that they will be able to help with depth this season.

The difference makers this week could be Louisville’s pass rush specialist LB Jonathan Greenard and LB Trevon Young. Young just keeps getting better and better each week. Through five games he is tied for the team lead with three QB hurries, has registered 24 tackles and is second on the team in tackles for loss (5.0) and sacks (1.5). Greenard leads the team with 5.0 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss coming off the bench this year. The defense will have to get to QB Ryan Finley and not let him just sit in the pocket. I think Greenard and Young could be the key.

The story again this season for the Cardinals offense is Lamar Jackson. Through five games he has 1636 yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions while also leading the Cardinals on the ground with 72 carries for 437 yards and five TDs. This team goes as Lamar goes. The running game has been coming around and Malik Williams has added another dimension to the offense. He has 389 yards on the season and can catch passes out of the backfield with 127 yards this season. He had his first multi-touchdown rushing game of his career, scoring twice against Kent State on nine carries and logged career highs of four catches and 43 receiving yards. I think he needs to be effective this week for the Cardinals to win this game.

It’s looking as though the Cardinals will be without their leading receiver Jaylen Smith this week. But this is the deepest unit on this team. The Cardinals had 14 different players catch a pass in last Saturdays game and guys like Dez Fitzpatrick have answered the call. Through five games, Fitzpatrick leads all freshmen nationally with six touchdown receptions and ranks sixth among all players, while also leading the ACC. He is one of those guys that gravitates to the spotlight. I think he will be big in the game on Thursday.

The Louisville offense will face another one of the top defensive lines in the country. The Wolfpack leads the FBS in returning defensive senior starters in 2017 and most of those guys are on the defensive line. They are led by defensive end Bradley Chubb (29 tackles), who ranks second nationally in tackles for loss and ninth in sacks. and Senior linebacker Jerod Fernandez and leads the team with 44 stops for the season and was the single-game tackle leader versus South Carolina (9), Florida State (9) and Syracuse (a career-best 14). These guys help power an NC State defense that is eighth against the run allowing 85.6 yards per game.

This Wolfpack defensive unit has solid depth in almost every area. One point of some concern for them is the defensive secondary. So far, this season, five players have started for the first time at a position in the secondary in the first five games. I’m hoping that with more time to get comfortable with his receivers that Lamar Jackson and company can expose them here. But first the Cardinals are going to have to deal with that strong defensive front. The Cardinals were not able to handle a similar defensive group from Clemson and this will be a similar test.

After all that has transpired over the last two weeks it will be hard for me not to think about Tom Jurich while watching yet another big Thursday night game. The national rise of the Louisville football program can be directly linked to his willingness to be a part of ESPN’s weekly college football games. Jurich was quoted after he was hired saying “The thing we need to do right away is to get exposure and get this program branded, and that is something I feel is most essential.” He did that on this platform.

Thinking back about those games I’m reminded of all the highs and lows I’ve felt on Thursday nights over the last 16 years. The field goal at Rutgers was probably the biggest low, but that was replaced by many highs including the Thursday night win against Rutgers that got us to the Sugar Bowl. And that game three years ago against Cincinnati. All those heroic performances by Teddy and other Cardinal greats the memories just go on and on. They laughed at Tom for playing the Thursday night games but who’s laughing now.

This is a big game for this team and one that I feel is a must win for them to finish out strong. The last big test that this group passed was the big win against FSU. Since then the build up to this kind of big game has been great but the team hasn’t delivered. I do think they have put the Clemson loss in the rear view and think they will have too much speed and talent on the field for NC State to keep up with. We get All American Jaire Alexander back and that won’t hurt either. Enjoy it folks! GO Cards!

The Beak Football Breakdown: Louisville vs. Kent State


I thought that this Louisville football team had taken two steps forward after their road win at UNC. It seemed that they were ready to take on the early challenge facing them Saturday night. But they were not. Last week this team took two steps back. They have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball and over the next two weeks should be able to fine tune things in preparation for that huge Thursday night game in October. That is the next litmus test.

The first game of the much-needed home stand is against Kent State on Saturday afternoon. This will be the 18th meeting between these programs and will be their first trip to Louisville since 1972. The Golden Flashes own a 9-8 series advantage reminding me that our program has really come a long way. Kent State has been on a money-making tour that has included losses at Clemson and Marshall. Louisville will be the last leg of that tour.

Kent State lost their 5th year starting QB Nick Holley in their second game of the season. He is still their leading passer and rusher on the season. Last week they split this duty between QB’s Dustin Crum and George Bollas. They combined for 117 yards and a pick on 7-17 passing. I don’t think you will see much of an air attack from this offense on Saturday afternoon. They will look to get their running game going with RB’s Justin Rankin, and Will Matthews. The two have combined for 161 yards this season. Rankin will also catch passes from the backfield with 54 yards and a touchdown thru the air

When they look for them WR’s Trey Harrell and Mike Carrigan have combined for 90 yards thru the air this season. Kent State has struggled on the offensive side of the football and a key indicator of just how dismal it’s been is represented in their third down conversions. In losses at Clemson and Marshall they were 4 for 16 and 4 for 15 respectively. Holley was this offense’s biggest weapon. Without him they are struggling. They were held scoreless last week.

Things don’t get much better for the Golden Flashes on the defensive side of the ball either. They have allowed 108 points averaging 36 points a game. They’ve given 776 yards rushing and 761 yards thru the air in three games this season. Defensive backs Jamal Parker (24 tackles), Jim Jones (21 tackles) and Lawrence-Burke (20 tackles) lead this unit. These guys haven’t backed down from the challenge this season and they’ll be active in the game against the Cardinals Saturday.

For the Cardinals, this week will be about getting better and working in some younger guys to help with the depth chart moving forward. On the offensive side of the ball you might see guys like RB Colin Wilson and TE Kamari Aberett get more reps. I think Coach Petrino will look to get A&M transfer Jordan Davis more involved as well. I think the Cardinals could use his versatility and athleticism. You might also see freshman Cole Bentley working in some on the Offensive line.

Our defense really needed these next two weeks to work out some obvious kinks and to help get some guys who are banged up some rehab. We are going to need All-American Jaire Alexander back to full strength when they take that mid-week road trip to NC State. Young guys who should see more action this week on the defensive side of the ball include LB London Iakopo. He was very active in the Clemson game and had a big 9-yard sack. LB Malik Staples along with CB’s Russ Yeast and Cornelius Sturghill should see extended reps. I’ve heard Coach Petrino mention these guys several times over the last couple of weeks.

After being beat up by Clemson the team and fans need some rehab. That’s just what these next two weeks will be. This week is about getting back in the win column. Next week will be about getting ready for the final push. This schedule is not forgiving.

Get out to Papa John’s Stadium and enjoy the day. Enjoy another victory. Go Cards!

The Beak Football Breakdown: Louisville vs. Clemson


There were a lot of excited Cardinal fans at the ACC celebration a few years ago. Everyone understood the significance of that moment and knew what kind of opportunity it was for the Louisville athletic department. While basketball has always found a way to thrive the other sports and athletic programs like football needed to be in a conference like the ACC to really establish themselves.

After years of leaping around to different conferences it has been great to see the University of Louisville Football team finally be in a legitimate football conference like the ACC. The Louisville Football program has battled its way to some national relevance and have shown that they can contend. Since the move to the ACC I’ve heard coaches, players and fans say how they are grateful for the opportunity. And I am grateful for the opportunity. On Saturday night, it’s time for the Louisville Football program to take advantage of that opportunity.

The Cardinals and the Clemson Tigers don’t have a long history. Three games define the story between these teams. Clemson has beat the Cardinals in all three of those meetings but it has been very competitive with the total margin of victory in all three games being just 15 points. Football is a game of inches. The three games between these teams has proven just that. 2014 it came down to one last play on the goal line, 2015 the Cardinals were just finger tips away from winning the game in the closing seconds and last year were just inches from another chance to win it with a goal line play.

If the Cardinals are to reach the summit of the ACC they will have to eventually beat Clemson. The stage is set for that final climb. Standing in the way of another transformational moment for the Cardinals football program is another very good Clemson football team. Once again Dabo Swinney has a roster loaded with talent, speed and athleticism on both sides of the ball. Clemson comes into Papa John’s stadium as the defending National Champions and are 2-0 after beating #13 Auburn 14-6 last week. The Tigers also come in ranked first in the nation in passing defense, second in total defense and sacks after their two wins of the season.

Some of the names on the Clemson offensive unit have changed but their attack remains the same. Junior QB Kelly Bryant takes over the reins of this group. He is a dual threat athlete that will use his arm and legs to make plays. So far, this year, Bryant has 417 yards with a pick and a TD through the air, and leads Clemson with 136 yards and three scores on 26 carries. They don’t have Deshaun Watson anymore but Bryant is a very capable QB. When it comes to their running game I would say that Clemson is in a very similar situation that Louisville is in. After losing RB Wayne Gallman who took the lion’s share of carries among Clemson running backs over the past three seasons they are still searching for “That Guy” again. This season they have split those duties with four guys. Their leading rushers coming in are Tavien Feaster (86 yard, 1 touchdown), Travis Etienne (81 yards, 1 touchdown), C.J. Fuller (62 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Adam Choice (41 yards, 1 touchdown). Out of this group C.J. Fuller is expected to emerge as their leader.

The Tigers have a balanced attack through two games this season with 449 yards on the ground and 497 yards through the air. After their coaching staff watched the Louisville game film I expect them to try to exploit the Cardinals secondary with All-American Jaire Alexander still on the mend. First-round draft pick Mike Williams is gone but they have a very talented group of wide receivers led by Hunter Renfrow (78 yards), Ray-Ray McCloud (105 yards) and Deon Cain (97 yards, 1 touchdown). These three guys have combined for 201 yards and 3 touchdowns in the last three games against the Cardinals. Cain is the deep threat guy and I look for him to see a lot of balls coming his way on Saturday night. His 18.5 yards per catch average is fourth on a career basis in Clemson history. He had a 61-yard touchdown reception from Kelly Bryant in the opener against Kent State. Renfrow is their clutch guy. Four times Renfrow made a third-down reception that gave Clemson a first down against Auburn. Blocking up front for this Clemson offensive attack is one of the best offensive lines in college football. This group is led by OG Tyrone Crowder (ranked #125 by NFL:.com), and OT Mitch Hyatt (ranked #27 by NFL.com; #35 by Sporting News; #58 by Sports Illustrated).

Coach Sirmon and his defense will have faced some of the best young football minds in the game after these first three games. Coach Dabo Swinney just might be the best they face all season. Now 91-28 for a .765 percentage at Clemson he will throw everything but the kitchen sink at the Louisville defense on Saturday night. Senior safety Chucky Williams has started his final season with a bang. He has 9 tackles and an interception through two games. I hope he can repeat his best performance of 2016 on Saturday night. That game came at Clemson, where he recorded seven tackles, recovered a pair of fumbles and picked off a pass. I’m hoping that Jaire Alexander can make a triumphant return to this Cardinal defense this weekend as he also has a pretty good history against the Tigers picking off two passes last year. If he can’t go or only gets limited minutes Ronald Walker will be counted on to continue to step up. Walker has 13 tackles through two games. Other guys who have started off this season with a bang and that will be counted on heavily this week include Trevon Young, a senior outside linebacker who returned to the lineup after a hip injury. He has 9 tackles, a sack and two pass breakups. Safety Zykiesis Cannon who has picked up where he left off from last season. Starting in the secondary in the first two games, Cannon leads the team in tackles with 14. Sophomore Jonathan Greenard is becoming a force off the bench for the Cardinals’ defense. Seeing action in both games he has been credited with 4.5 tackles for loss, which is second in the ACC and 11th nationally. Big task this week but this is a unit that will be up for the challenge.

A lot of the talk this week about the Clemson vs. Louisville game has been about the match-up between Louisville’s offense and Clemson’s defense. Lamar Jackson leads a Louisville offense that averages 614.5 yards per game, fifth best in the nation. Louisville averages 7.6 yards per play 15th best in the nation, including 9.1 yards per pass attempt. The Cardinals have scored 10 touchdowns in two games. Lamar Jackson is off to a great start, leading the nation in total offense with 505 yards per game. He has thrown for 771 and rushed for 239. Passing he is 55-85 for 771 yards and five touchdowns. He has not thrown an interception. The one thing that has been missing from this offensive juggernaut is an established run game. For this team to be what it can be that must happen in my opinion and it will have to happen to beat Clemson. Since returning to coach the Cardinals, Petrino’s teams are 16-3 when rushing for 200 yards or more. He has been playing the Clemson QB all week on the scout team but RB Malik Williams could play a big role in the Cardinals running attack Saturday night. He had career highs of 13 rushes and 149 yards, toting the ball an average of 11.5 yards per carry against UNC. His 149 yards are the most by a running back since Brandon Radcliff did it. This kid is hopefully the answer the Cardinals running game has been looking for. WR Dez Fitzpatrick and Jaylen Smith have been clutch early on for the Cardinals. Fitzpatrick leads the squad with five third-down receptions and two touchdowns, while Smith has four first-down catches this year. These guys will need some of those clutch catches against the Clemson Secondary. The guys on the Louisville offensive line have shown improvement allowing only two sacks in the first two games and showing some great blocking late in the game last week that allowed for 74-yard gain. This weekend is going to be the ultimate measuring stick for these guys.

Looking to slow down the Louisville attack is a very good Clemson defense. It may just be the best defense in the country. Clemson allows just 118.5 yards per game, second in the nation. Clemson is also tied for first in pass defense, allowing just 40 yards per game, second in yards per play allowed at 2.06 and fifth in pass efficiency defense at a 71.46 rating. This group has not allowed a touchdown yet this season. They are led by a who’s who of pre-season defensive watch list performers and a few All-Americans. Nine Clemson players ranked among top 125 for 2017 and six of the nine are on the defensive side of the ball, including three defensive linemen. Among those standouts are DT Dexter Lawrence (9 tackles, 0.5 sacks), DT, Christian Wilkins (6 tackles, 1.5 sacks), LB Kendall Joseph (14 tackles 0.5 sacks), DE Clelin Ferrell (9 tackles,1 sack), FS Van Smith Jr (1 tackle), and CB Mark Fields (2 tackles). Leading the Clemson defense is LB Dorian O’Daniel (18 tackles 1.5 sacks), LB Kendall Joseph (14 tackles, 0.5 sacks) and DE Austin Bryant (13 tackles, 4 sacks). This is a big and nasty bunch and it is going to take a big effort against them Saturday.

Not only are some calling this game the biggest in the history of the Louisville program but they are also saying it could be the biggest college football game ever played in the state of Kentucky. I will be celebrating my 11th wedding anniversary with my beautiful wife at the game so the night really couldn’t get much bigger for me. This is a big moment folks and one that could define the Louisville program for years to come. There are some of the best recruits in the country expected to be in attendance on Saturday and a national television audience watching. There will be a lot on the line. A Cardinal win will cement their membership into the ACC giving them their 1st legitimate shot at a conference championship. A win could all but guarantee another Heisman trophy for Lamar Jackson and would put Louisville on a path to a possible College Football playoff berth. It doesn’t get any bigger than this. Winning games like this puts a college football program in a different conversation. I’m ready to have those conversations. Enjoy it folks. Go Cards!

The Beak Football Breakdown: Louisville vs UNC


The Cardinals head into the first game of the ACC slate this weekend with a Saturday trip to Chapel Hill. This will be the eighth meeting between the Cardinals and Tarheels on the gridiron with Louisville holding a 4-3 series advantage winning three of the last four. Coach Petrino is 2-0 against the powder blue but has yet to face them during the Fedora era. This will be a match-up of two great offensive minds.

North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora is in his sixth season at Chapel Hill. Fedora is known for his aggressive, attacking philosophy on both sides of the ball. It’s a wide open spread offense and a blitz-heavy defense. Fedora was hired by UNC in 2012 and during that first season his attack was on full display in Louisville. I was at Papa John’s stadium when his first UNC team overcame a 39-14 deficit with seven minutes left in the game to come within finger tips of beating the then 19th ranked Cardinals. In the second half of that game his team carved thru Coach Strong’s defense like a hot knife thru butter.

Fedora only returns about 13 percent of his Total yards of offense from last season passing, rushing and receiving. Seven starters had to be replaced. So, he might not have the offensive fire power he had on that day in Papa John’s Stadium but his system is firmly in place at UNC and he does have a roster full of young and talented athletes. He also has some graduate transfers to try and replace some of that production. One of those graduate transfers is QB Brandon Harris. Before making his UNC debut last week against Cal he had 13 starts for LSU. His UNC debut didn’t go so well as he posted a pair of interceptions early and was pulled in favor of freshman QB Chazz Surratt, who fared better on 161 yards and one TD. He also ran for 66 yards and a score.

The Cardinals could see both guys on Saturday as there seems to still be some competition going on for the starting role. But Harris should get the start and play most of the game. He is the experienced QB and I think he’ll play with something to prove to his head coach. Harris will be handing the ball off to sophomore running back Jordon Brown and freshman Michael Carter. Brown is their returning guy and poses a real threat both on the ground and as a receiver. He led the team last week with 9 catches for 53 yards. Carter also had a big debut with 94 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is taking the bruiser role for this offense and will be in when they need those tough yards.

Senior wide receiver Austin Proehl will be the primary target through the air. He is their most experienced guy and is close to having a thousand yards for his career. They really lack experience in their wide receiver corps and will rely on the other guys to step up in this game. Among those guys are freshman Roscoe Johnson, second season transfer from Vandy senior Jordan Cunningham and fourth year player junior Devin Perry. Johnson is a talented freshman and I think could be one of their biggest threats. He caught two passes for 25 yards in his debut last week. They also have a couple of good tight ends with sophomore Carl Tucker and junior Brandon Fritts. These guys combined for 30 yards of offense last week. There is a lot of building going on for this UNC offense but they have a great offensive line to do it behind. The offensive line will be the biggest advantage for UNC in this game. This group is led by Senior LT Bentley Spain (13 starts) and senior RG R.J. Prince (12 starts). Add in graduate transfers C Cam Dillard of Florida and LG Khaliel Rodgers of USC, and this group is legit.

This will be the second week straight that Coach Sirmon and his defense will face an aggressive offensive game plan. Coach Fedora will attack on every level so the Cardinals are going to have to be active. The defense may have to do that without All-American Jaire Alexander who is nursing a sore leg. Ronald Walker could see extended time if Alexander can’t go. He stepped up big against Purdue. I’m also excited to see the follow up performance from Trevon Young. He had a triumphant return to the field last week with a sack and a tackle for loss against Purdue. He along with the guys on the Louisville defensive front are going to be busy on Saturday. I think this unit will get better every week and they’ll be up to the challenge.

The Cardinals offense overcame some early mistakes and outscored the Boilermakers 25-14 in the second half after trailing 14-10 at halftime. Lamar Jackson had a great outing in his Week 1 debut, going 30-of-46 for 378 yards and two touchdowns through the air and 21 carries for 107 yards on the ground. Jaylen Smith was the Cardinals’ leading receiver with eight grabs for 117 yards. Dez Fitzpatrick had a solid debut as well with 95 yards and a touchdown. The biggest thing for the offense this weekend is to hold on to the football. It’s very hard to win on the road and almost impossible if you turn the ball over. Penalties are also a big concern for this group heading into week number two. Again, very hard to win on the road if you are battling negative yards all day. I would also like to see the run game be more productive this week. And will be watching the offensive line to hopefully see continued improvement.

Trying to slow down the Louisville attack this week will be a UNC defensive unit that boast the most experience on the team. Their defense was expected to be a strength for them but that didn’t work out very well for them in week 1. They gave up six plays of at least 20 yards against Cal. Keep in mind that Cal was breaking in a new QB. That is a far cry from the returning Heisman Trophy winner they will face this weekend. Junior LB Andre Smith is one of their best defensive players. He had 10 tackles with a 73-yard interception in their opener. He said earlier this week that he didn’t intend for Saturday to become “the Lamar Jackson show.” Smith along with fellow linebacker Cole Holcomb and senior corner MJ Stewart will try to hold down a talented group of Louisville speedsters. Jr defensive linemen Malik Carney and sophomore Aaron Crawford will try to stop the Louisville offense before it gets started. These guys combined for 10 tackles and a sack last week. This UNC defensive unit has had a lot to say this week but they seem to still have a lot to prove.

North Carolina is going to pull out all the stops on Saturday honoring their basketball team and an appearance from MJ was planned. Don’t think MJ can make it due to travel restrictions but they’ll still be fired up in Chapel Hill. They are a team that is hungry for that first win of the season and they always play their best in front of the home crowd. Fedora has a 25-9 record at Kenan Stadium. If the Cardinals come out and play sloppy football with a lot of mistakes it could be a long day. If Lamar and the guys come out and play solid football I still expect it to be a battle but one that the Cardinals should win.

Enjoy it! Go Cards!

The Beak Football Breakdown: Louisville vs. Purdue


It is that time of year again… we’ve made it through another sports dry spell and now are one day away from the start of another College Football season. There are several intriguing match-ups to open the regular season but none more than the Cardinals and Boilermakers. There is not much history between these programs and the only time they played back in 1987 the game ended in a 22-22 tie. But there is a lot of history between the men who will be leading their teams into battle on Saturday.

During their three seasons together Jeff, Greg, Brian and Coach Petrino led the Louisville program to 32 wins, Liberty Bowl win, Orange Bowl Championship, Conference USA and Big East championship and twice finished in the Associated Press top 10. And by popular opinion were a field goal away from a possible National Championship. There isn’t anyone who has had a bigger impact on the rise of the Louisville football program than Coach Petrino and the Brohms and now they will be on opposite sidelines as the Cardinals open the 2017-18 College Football season.

For Coach Petrino and his Cardinals some of the faces in the starting roles will be different but much will remain the same. The Cardinal’s lose three offensive linemen as well as its leading rusher and top-three receivers from last season but Lamar Jackson is back after a season in which he produced 51 touchdowns. Last season Jackson’s first instinct was to put this offense on his back. After another off season to learn the playbook we will see him utilize the guys around him more on Saturday. There is a lot of talented players on the offensive side of the ball for the Cardinals who are ready to step up in those roles left behind last season.

Proven Veteran Reggie Bonnafon will give the Cardinals a more versatile and athletic look in the backfield as the #1 running back. In 33 career games, Bonnafon has totaled 346 yards on the ground and five touchdowns his best season coming in 2015 when he ran for 175 yards. I look for him to be highly effective in helping this team move the ball down the field. He and RB Jeremy Smith will be a great one/two punch. Smith is coming off his best season. He was third on the team last year in rushing with a career-high 382 yards and eight touchdowns. We should see a steady workload for both guys on Saturday.

There is a lot of speed, talent and versatility at the wide receiver spot for the Cardinals. During the season I think you will see several different guys share the bulk of the load but I look for wide receiver Jaylen Smith and wide receiver Seth Dawkins to emerge as go to guys for this unit. Smith, a rising junior, finished third in the nation in yards per reception at 22.2 yards. He has big play ability and had had three touchdown receptions for over 50 yards last season. Dawkins also displayed big-play potential last season catching 11 passes for 191 yards and one score. He caught at least one pass in eight games, and ended the year with six receptions for 85 yards in the Cardinals final three games.

For the fifth time in seven years under the offensive prowess of head coach Bobby Petrino, the Cardinals ended last season ranked in the top 10 nationally in total offense. Louisville finished third in the country in offense, averaging 532.7 yards per game. On Saturday Purdue will have a tall task ahead of them stopping this Louisville attack. Purdue was 117th in the country last year, allowing 38.3 points per game. Purdue’s co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Nick Holt served as the defensive coordinator for Coach Petrino at Western Kentucky in 2013. He will have a general idea on what to expect from the Louisville attack and does have some key guys returning to work with.

Holt teaches an aggressive style attack and prefers speed and athleticism over size. This Purdue defense is in a bit of rebuild mold but do have some key guys returning on all three levels. Linebacker Markus Bailey returns after 97 tackles last season, defensive lineman Gelen Robinson had five sacks and corner Josh Hayes had one interception. Trying to patch together a defensive unit Holt will have the flexibility to cater his scheme to fit his personnel. I think they will be able to play tough against the Louisville run game but their inexperienced secondary will struggle to stop an attack that will come on all levels. The Purdue defense will play hard but it could be a long day for them.

On offense, the Purdue Boilermakers have nowhere to go but up and they now have a coaching staff who can take them there. Jeff Brohm is widely regarded as one of the most innovative offensive masterminds in college football. His offenses at Western ended up #4 in 2014, #9 in 2015, and #5 in 2016. It didn’t take him long to get things moving forward down in Bowling Green and it won’t take him long in West Lafayette.

Purdue returns quarterback David Blough, who had 3,300 passing yards and 25 touchdowns. He has a decent cannon but it’s a loose one with 21 interceptions. He’ll have to cut down on those numbers to be effective this season for Brohm. The Boilermakers really lack experience at the wide receiver spot but do return a running back tandem of Markell Jones (321 carries, 1,491 yards, 14 TDs career) and Brian Lankford-Johnson (48 carries, 314 yards, 4 TDs career). They are Big Ten style bruisers and I expect them to get a lot of action on Saturday. Coach Brohm has some tools to work with but for Purdue to be able to move the ball effectively against a stiff Louisville defensive front they’ll have to get something from their offensive line. Purdue’s left tackle redshirt freshman Grant Hermanns and right tackle graduate transfer David Steinmetz will be making their very first FBS starts.

Coach Peter Sirmon will make his debut on Saturday as Louisville’s new defensive head man. His first task will be figuring out a way to stop the creative mind of Jeff Brohm. Sirmon’s defense will face an attack that they really won’t know much about heading in. That matters but it won’t matter near as much as it has in years past. Coach Sirmon believes in defensive principles where players attack rather than read and react. He will have his guys flying to the ball no matter where Brohm tries to move it. I’m looking forward to this battle. The Cardinals have 9 players returning on the defensive side of the football including all-ACC cornerback Jaire Alexander, third-team all-ACC offense tackle Geron Christian and safety Chucky Williams. These guys along with linebacker Stacy Thomas (85 tackles last season), and defensive end James Hearns (8 sacks last season) will be big on Saturday. The Louisville defense was 31st in the country last year, allowing 23.8 points per game.

I’m really looking forward to the game, and think we could see a back and forth contest for a bit. First game jitters will play a part in that on Louisville’s end. On Purdue’s end, they have more talent than what most folks are giving them credit for. Plus, they have a good coach. They could keep it close for a while but I don’t think Purdue has any chance of winning this game. At the end of the day the emotions will settle in and Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals defense will be too much for the rebuilding Boilermakers to handle. When the game reaches the fourth quarter the Boilers time will be UP.

Enjoy the game folks and GO CARDS!

The Cardinals and their fans hope Citrus will get the bad taste out of their mouths


The Louisville Football team carried a lot of momentum from the end of the 2015 season into 2016… The excitement of spring ball and summer practice was a catalyst to a 4-0 start to the regular season. We watched as our Cardinals made it to that 5th spot in the College Football Playoff Poll. The Cardinals started the regular season being compared to a red hot-rod going up and down the field in those chrome helmets but somewhere along the way the tires went flat.

Beating Florida State with the ESPN College Gameday crew on site was the zenith of the season and losing at home to arch rival Kentucky to end the regular season was the nadir. This team was making some of the same mistakes throughout but the effort in those early games masked some of those issues that cost this team in the end.

-The Cardinals offensive line gave up 3.25 sacks a game this season ranked 121 out of 128 NCAA FBS schools.

-The Cardinals averaged 7.75 penalties a game this season ranked 118 out of 128 NCAA FBS schools.

-The Cardinals had 21 fumbles this season ranked 128 out of 128 NCAA FBS schools.

-The Cardinals had 31 turnovers this season ranked 124 out of 128 NCAA FBS schools.

When this team got complacent they stopped getting better. This Louisville team never got better than they were during that 4-0 start to the season. In the final two games of the season the effort we had seen early on was nonexistent. These guys appeared to have lost all that great momentum they had in September and October… and will now have to dig deep to get it back.

The game on Saturday is important to the legacy of a great senior class, it is important for the guys who came to Louisville for their last chance, it is important to Cardinal fans who deserve to see their team end the season with a win and the game on Saturday is important to regain some positive momentum headed into next season. The attitudes in the weight room and on that practice field next spring and summer will be a lot different coming off a Bowl win as opposed to three straight losses. There is a lot of discussion around this time of year about how much these Bowl games really matter… for the Cardinals and their fans it’s the only thing that matters now.

Louisville will be making its 21st bowl appearance when they face LSU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl and looking for its sixth bowl win in the last eight Bowl games. The Cardinals offense enters the Bowl game averaging 45.3 points per game with 256.8 rushing yards and 302 passing yards per game. Having won 14 of his last 18 starts our Heisman winner Lamar Jackson is completing 57.6% of his passes for 3390 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. Jackson has rushed for 1538 yards and 21 touchdowns. Brandon Radcliff has added 877 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns for the Cardinals. James Quick has caught 42 passes for 688 yards and 6 touchdowns, while Cole Hikutini has caught 49 passes for 656 yards and 8 scores. This Louisville offense will be facing a very good defense on Saturday. The biggest key will be the offensive line. Lamar can’t win this side of the ball alone. It’s going to take a balanced attack. That means time for plays to develop and open running lanes. Coach Klenakis’s guys were able to rise to the occasion last year in the Music City Bowl. Can they do it again?

The Louisville defense is giving up 23.3 points per game with 110 rushing yards and 206.3 passing yards per game. Leading this unit is Keith Kelsey with 81 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack, Stacy Thomas with 74 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 1 sack and Chucky Williams with 45 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 3 interceptions. Josh Harvey-Clemons and Zykiesis both have 61 tackles on the season. The Cardinals defense will be without sack leader James Hearns but still have Devonte Fields coming off the edge. This unit will be playing with a lot of emotion. They will be playing without one of their defensive leaders in Hearns and it will be the last time a lot of these guys will be wearing a Cardinal uniform. I think Coach Grantham will have them ready.

LSU lost 2 of their last 4 games and finished tied for 2nd in the SEC West. The LSU offense is averaging 28.3 points per game with 238.1 rushing yards and 187.6 passing yards per game. QB Danny Etling isn’t anywhere near as good as the guy he will be facing but gets the job done completing 60% of his passes for 1906 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. The Tigers leading rusher is big powerful running back Derrius Guice. He has rushed for 1249 yards and 14 touchdowns. Their speed back Leonard Fournette will not play. Their leading receivers are Malachi Dupre who has caught 34 passes for 454 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Travin Dural who has 28 catches for 280 yards and 1 score. Who knows what to expect from this LSU offense. What will it do to this unit’s chemistry with Fournette not playing? Or will affect them at all?

This LSU team can put points on the board but it is their top ranked defense they rely on. The LSU defense is giving up 16.4 points per game with 121.8 rushing yards and 201.2 passing yards per game. The leaders of this unit are Linebacker Kendell Beckwith with 91 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 1 sack, Linebacker Duke Riley with 85 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 1 interception. Safety Jamal Adams has 70 tackles, and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux has 58 tackles. Defensive end Arden Key leads this unit with 10 sacks. I think we will get this units best shot on Saturday. A good defense takes pride in being able to stop great players. They have their chance to shut down a pretty good one Saturday.

This game comes down to very good offense vs a very good defense. There will be a lot of speed and athleticism on both sides of the field but it will all come down to emotion. There will be a team that wants it more. LSU can lose this game and rely on the benefit of that SEC bias to be right back in playoff conversations again next season. If Louisville loses this game they will start next year with a very different narrative. The Cardinals need this game more and if they play like they need it more they should be able to secure the victory. If they come out uninspired like they did in the two games to end the regular season it will be a long off season.

It’s gut check time for the Louisville football program. They have faced a lot of adversity on and off the field over the last couple of months. Sure, individual awards are great and it was special for the program and the fans getting to celebrate a Heisman Trophy. But in the end football is a team sport and this team needs a win. Let’s hope the Citrus Bowl gets the bad taste out of our mouths and we can head into next season on a high note. GO CARDS!

It’s Time for Louisville to win The Governor’s Cup… again


There doesn’t seem to be as much buzz or anticipation for this seasons battle for the Governor’s Cup. I think that the Cardinals uninspired performance against Houston has a lot to do with that. It might also be the fact that the Cardinals haven’t lost a football game to Kentucky since 2010… But by the time kickoff rolls around tomorrow I expect the spirit of this Bluegrass Rivalry to be in full effect. The all-time series is currently tied at 14, with Louisville winning the past five meetings. The Wildcats will bring one of the best teams they’ve had during the Stoops era into Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and they are Bowl eligible for the first time since the 2010 season. Our Cardinals also have one of the best teams they’ve had during Petrino Era part 2. We have enjoyed watching them compete for a playoff spot all season and will hopefully enjoy another victory over Kentucky on Saturday at noon.

This is the third season that this game will take its place at the table of rivalry weekend in college football. And this has the potential to be one of the better games on Saturday. Kentucky is finally getting together enough size, talent, speed and athleticism to be fairly competitive again. They have done a nice job utilizing their talent with that Wildcat offense. They have rushed for 2,666 yards this season out of that Wildcat look and are ranked #17 in the country in rushing offense. Their passing attack isn’t as effective but still capable of that big play. They have 1,892 yards through the air this season ranked 111th in passing offense. This Kentucky team has been inconsistent at times on the defensive end of the field but can be very good at times. They are ranked #81 in total defense allowing 428 yards a game. They are giving up 220 yards a game on the ground and 208 yards a game through the air.

Leading the Kentucky offense is QB Stephen Johnson. He took over the starting role after Drew Barker was injured. Johnson isn’t going to “wow you” but is consistent and does a good job out of the Wildcat offense. He has 1,524 yards through the air with a 9:4 TD: INT ratio and has 195 yards with 2 touchdowns on the ground. The Wildcats offense has taken off in the past few weeks in large part thanks to the two headed monster of running backs Boom Williams and Benny Snell Jr. This duo is as good as any in the country. Williams ranks seventh nationally and is second in the SEC in yards per carry (7.3) and 32nd nationally. He has 2,413 career rushing yards, seventh on Kentucky’s career rushing list. Snell’s 1,006 rushing yards this season is a school record for a freshman in a single season. Williams ranked #31 in rushing yards uses his speed to run by people and Snell ranked #41 uses power to run over people. This kid is a beast…

In the Wildcats passing attack WR Jeff Badet has surfaced as a solid threat himself with 335 yards and three scores on just 14 catches over the past five weeks. When this guy catches a pass he makes em count ranked second nationally in yards per catch at 24.46 per reception. The Kentucky offensive line deserves a lot of credit for the success of this team. This is one of their most experienced positions returning 83 career starts, including 46 from last year. Senior center Jon Toth anchors their O-line and he has started in 46 consecutive games. He is considered one of the top centers in college football.

Trying to stop the Wildcat Offense is a Cardinals defense that has been strong against the run, holding eight foes to less than 140 rushing yards. They have limited the last five opponents to an average of 58.4 yards per game and will need that type of effort against this Kentucky offense on Saturday. DT DeAngelo Brown (11.0 tackles for loss), LB Devonte’ Fields (22 tackles, 5 sacks), S Josh Harvey-Clemons (33 tackles), and LB Keith Kelsey (41 tackles) will be running out onto the field at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for the last time on Saturday. These guys have never suffered a loss to the Wildcats and how they play tomorrow will determine if they can graduate with that claim. The Louisville defense took the day off last Thursday night. They have had over a week to think about that effort. I think we will see an inspired performance out of this group.

So far this season, Lamar Jackson has 3,109 passing yards with 28 touchdowns, and also leads the Cardinals in rushing on 209 yards and 1,367 yards and 19 touchdowns. He had a breakout performance against Kentucky last season leading the Cardinal’s to a come from behind victory at Commonwealth Stadium. Jackson is a fierce competitor and you can bet that he doesn’t want to end his record breaking regular season with a loss to the Wildcats. For offensive leaders RB Brandon Radcliff (787, 6 touchdowns), WR James Quick (621 yards, 6 touchdowns), WR Jamari Staples (593 yards, 2 touchdowns), and TE Cole Hikutini (556 yards, 7 touchdowns) this will also be their last time on the home turf. This offense has been explosive and these guys have been a big reason why. Makes no sense to think that they won’t play a big role in this one. This rivalry tends to mean a lot more to the guys from the state and in the case of OL Tobijah Hughley who is from Lexington it really means a lot. He along with OL Matt Cohen, and OL Kiola Mahoni will be playing their last game in front of the home crowd and they should be motivated to finish the home-stand strong. They’ll want to erase that awful game last week (11 sacks) out of the minds of Cardinal fans.

Trying to slow down the explosive Louisville offensive attack is a Kentucky defense that has been very inconsistent this season. They can play lock down on one series then turn around and give up the big play on the next. Playing against this Louisville offense that averages over 15 yards per catch (#8 nationally) that could be a problem for them. This Wildcat defense is strongest at the Linebacker position. LB Jordan Jones is a really good player and flies around all over the field looking for somebody to hit. He has 90 tackles this season to rank third among all SEC defenders with 8.2/game. He also leads the SEC in solo tackles (62), and has a team-high nine quarterback hurries. He will be the biggest challenge for the Louisville offensive line on Saturday. LB Courtney Love, a transfer from Nebraska, is third on the team with 62 tackles and strong-side LB Josh Allen has posted 53 tackles with a team high 6.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, which ranks eighth nationally. Kentucky also has five corner-backs with extensive experience, including Freshman All-American and Freshman All-SEC corner-back Chris Westry (72 career tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack, 3 interceptions, 11 pass breakups). If the Wildcats pull off the upset Saturday these guys will be a big part of it.

I always look forward to this football game. Rivalries are what make college sports so interesting and we have one of the best rivalries in the country. For the first time in a while this game will make its way back to ESPN for the noon kickoff. I hope both teams come out and play the best game of their seasons and make this one an instant classic. With their running backs they could make it a very competitive game and the Louisville defense will face one of the toughest challenges of the season. Penalties could also play a big part in a game like this. The Wildcats are ranked #25 in fewest penalties per game while our Cardinals rank #122. Having said all of that I think Lamar Jackson along with the emotions of Senior Day will be the difference in this one. This is one of the better teams that Kentucky has brought into Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and I do think it will be competitive but the Cardinals will win their sixth straight in the Governor’s Cup battle. Let’s get loud tomorrow Cardinal Fans. GO CARDS!

The Beak’s Prediction for the
Howard Schnellenberger Award:

My prediction for the award this year is Lamar Jackson. I believe he will win this award for his ability to take over this game like he did last season. He should be able to have his way with a very inconsistent UK defense. The Stoops defense has struggled with mobile QB’s and will have trouble with the speed and athleticism of Jackson again on Saturday.

The 2010 game was the inaugural year for the award. The award is given to the Most Valuable Player of the game. It is named for Howard Schnellenberger, who played under Bear Bryant for Kentucky and coached at Louisville.

Previous winners:

-(9-04-2010) Derrick Locke, RB@ Kentucky had 23 Carries, 104 Yards, for 2 TD’s
-(9-17-2011) Dexter Heyman, LB@ Louisville had 12 Tackles & 1 Forced Fumbles
-(9-02-2012) Teddy Bridgewater Louisville QB 19/21, 232 Yards
-(9-14-2013) Teddy Bridgewater Louisville QB 16/28, 250 Yards, 1 TD
-(11-29-2014) DeVante Parker Louisville WR 6 Receptions, 180 Yards, 3 TD’s
-(11-28-2015) Lamar Jackson Louisville QB 8/21, 130 yards, 1 TD 17 carries, 186 yards, 2 TDs

ACC Finale on a Saturday Night under the Lights


Our Louisville Cardinals are heading down the home stretch of the college football season. They moved up one spot this week in the Playoff poll to #6 and winners of four games straight they will close out their 3rd ACC season against Wake Forest Saturday night under the lights of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The Cardinals and the Demon Deacons have met three times on the gridiron with the Cardinals winning all three. The Cardinals have won 9 straight at home including a perfect 4-0 this season.

In the last three games, Louisville has put up a whopping 138 points, and has held opponents to 14 points or fewer in three of their last four. The Cardinals have dominated the opposition this season, having out-scored opponents 211-61 and having scored 50 or more points in three of the four home contests. Next up is a very respectful opponent in Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are 6-3 and 3-2 overall after a 27-20 win over Virginia last week. They will be coming to Louisville on Saturday night with upset on their mind and the Cardinals will get their best shot. This Wake Forest team reflects the resilience of their head coach. Dave Clawson has turned several programs around and in year number three in Winston-Salem has them going Bowling. The programs first trip to a Bowl game since 2011.

Leading the Wake Forest offense is another guy who is a direct reflection of his coach. QB John Wolford has been right in the middle of the rebuilding process and has taken the blows that comes along with that. His numbers don’t necessarily reflect it but Wolford has weathered the storm and has his offense moving the football. So far this season, Wolford is 127-of-225 for 1313 yards and has a 5:7 TD: INT ratio. The Demon Deacons have a pretty balanced attack with 1476 yards on the ground and 1507 yards through the air. Leading their rushing attack is Matt Colburn with 109 carries for 463 yards and one TD. Wolford is a mobile QB and he is second on the team in rushing with 456 yards and 6 touchdowns. Wolford’s favorite targets are WR Tabari Hines (367 yards 2 touchdowns), WR Cortez Lewis (298 yards), and TE Cam Serigne (257 yards, 1 touchdown).

Looking to stifle this Wake Forest offense is a Louisville Defense that keeps getting better every week. After giving up 201 yards on the ground in the 42-36 loss to No. 2 Clemson on Oct. 1, the Cardinals have allowed just 66.3 average over the last four games holding the last three opponents to under 100 yards on the ground. Entering the game last weekend, Boston College totaled 170.1 yards per game on the ground, and were held to 57 yards on 47 carries an average of 1.5 yards per attempt. The Cards are ranked seventh in rushing defense this season. They have also done a great job at defending teams through the air and rank 15th in the country allowing 187 yards a game. The Cardinals are ranked 8th in the nation in total defense giving up 293 yards a game. For DeAngelo Brown (second on the squad with 6.5 tackles for loss), Keith Kelsey (team leader with 61 tackles), Devonte Fields (30 tackles, 2 sacks), and Josh Harvey-Clemons (second on the team in tackles with 56) their college careers are nearing the end. Look for them to be playing some of their best football on Saturday night and during these final weeks.

On the year so far, Jackson is rolling with a 170-of-288 line for 2753 yards and 26 touchdowns, also leading Louisville in rushing with 1181 yards and 19 touchdowns on 162 attempts. Brandon Radcliff ranks 10th in the nation with an average of 7.12 yards per carry. James Quick is the Cardinals’ lead receiver this year with 35 catches for 601 yards and six touchdowns of his own and not far behind is Jamari Staples second on the team with 557 receiving yards. Jaylen Smith has caught a pass in 14-straight games and is tied for the lead with six touchdowns. Cole Hikutini has caught 27 passes and always seems to be there to move the chains when needed. This Louisville offense is rolling along like a well-oiled machine and I only expect that to continue Saturday night.

I don’t think that Wake Forest can stand up to this kind of offensive onslaught in any realistic scenario, but do think that they’ve got a defense that will sure be excited to try and slow down the Heisman leader and the weapons he has around him. Wake Forest has some very good player’s at all three levels of their defense. This is a hard-nosed group who flies around the field looking to hit somebody. The leaders of this group are DL Duke Ejiofor (36 tackles, 8 sacks), LB Marquel Lee (71 tackles, 5 sacks), LB Thomas Brown (45 tackles, 1.5 sacks), DB Brad Watson (40 tackles, 2 interceptions), DB Ryan Janvion (42 tackles, 1 interception), and DB Jessie Bates (63 tackles, 5 interceptions). You can tell by their numbers that these guys come to play and they will Saturday.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be under the lights of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on Saturday night covering this game. We haven’t had the chance at many of these night games since joining the ACC. It will also be great to be a part of the atmosphere that will honor our veterans. The Cardinals will wear maybe their best uniform combinations of the season when they take the field. I don’t see any scenario where this game will be in doubt. With the home crowd behind them this Louisville offense and defense will come out and play one of the best games of their season looking to gain momentum as they close this thing out. It’s going to be an awesome Saturday night folks. Go Cards!

Battle between an old foe & against a top defense looms for the Cards at BC


Our Cardinals have won 3 straight, have secured another Bowl trip and are ranked 7th in the first College Football Playoff Poll. I’d say things are going pretty well. They will now head to the Northeast to face Boston College. The Cardinals lead the series between these teams 5-3 and have won the last three match-ups. They are heavy favorites again this week but there is an old foe and a really good defense who would love nothing more than to ruin the Cardinals day on Saturday.

Boston College just broke a 12 game ACC losing streak last week with a victory over NC State and they are going to be feeling pretty good about themselves Saturday afternoon. There is one guy on their team in particular who has been waiting for the Cardinals to come to town all season. Former embattled Kentucky QB Patrick Towles has found refuge at Chestnut Hills and for him this game is a chance at redemption for the losses he took against his Bluegrass Rival.

Towles grew up in Kentucky and was a very good high school QB. I always thought he was a gamer when he played for the Wildcats but he never seemed to gain the support or confidence of their fans or his coach. So far this year, Towles is 88-of-107 with 1147 yards and a 7:5 TD: INT ratio for Boston College. He is a QB that will run the ball and has rushed for 268 yards with 4 touchdowns this season. He is the team’s second leading rusher.

Boston College has a pretty balanced offensive attack with 1,241 yards through the air and 1,361 yards on the ground this season. They do slightly favor the run. Coach Steve Addazio has already made mention of a grind it out day so I’d say that we will see a heavy dose of their leading rusher RB Jon Hillman who has 411 yards and 5 touchdowns on the season and RB Davon Jones who has 290 yards and 1 touchdown on the season. WR Jeff Smith will also run out of the backfield. He had five carries for 70 yard and a touchdown in their win against NC State. Towles will also sling the ball down the field to Smith who is his leading receiver with 284 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Looking to stop the BC offensive attack is a Louisville defense that is ranked 16th nationally against the run and 11th overall. Defensively, the Cards held Virginia to 322 yards of total offense and just 84 yards on the ground to remain in the top 20 in total defense and rushing defense. CB Jaire Alexander has emerged as a big spark to the Cardinal’s defensive attack and is second nationally with five picks through eight games. Devonte Fields is still looking for the numbers he produced last season but has been slowed by nagging injuries. Facing a rushing offense this would be a good game for him to return to form.

This will be a game that will feature one of the best offenses in the country against one of the better defenses. So far this season for Louisville, Heisman leading Lamar Jackson is 158-of-271 for 2522 yards and 22 touchdowns, and is also tops in the running game with 147 carries for 996 yards and 16 more scores. Staples is the leading receiver for the Cardinals this year, bagging 29 catches for 546 yards and two touchdowns. Steve Addazio has rebuilt the BC program on the fundamentals of good defense. His team boasts a top 5 defense against the run and is ranked #8 nationally in total defense. Boston College will feature all-league contenders at each level, headlined by DE Harold Landry (29 tackles, 9 sacks), linebackers Matt Milano (44 tackles, 5 sacks) and Connor Strachan (36 tackles, 2.5 sacks) and S John Johnson (47 tackles) and CB Kamrin Moore (19 tackles).

Reviews say that Alumni Stadium at Chestnut Hill offers legitimate college football to the New England area. From the upper deck you can get a view of BC’s Gothic architecture looming just up the hill from the stadium and Boston College will try to go medieval on the Cardinals on Saturday. They have a hungry defense and a QB with revenge on his mind. The Cardinals will have to prove again to the country on Saturday that they belong in the playoff conversation. A big win would show that and put the Cardinals in good shape heading into the final month of their schedule. I think we will see another good ACC battle… Go Cards!

Playoff Hopes Alive & Halloween Weekend Trip To Hooville


With a little help from Penn State and a very convincing homecoming victory over NC State the Cardinals are very much still in the College Football Playoff picture. Now each week becomes very important in that bid for a Playoff spot. Next up for the Cardinals is a Halloween weekend trip to Virginia to face the Cavaliers. Saturday’s game will be the fifth meeting between the two schools, with the series tied at 2-2. Louisville held off the Cavaliers 38-31 last season at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

The most prominent and widely accepted nickname for Virginia athletics is “Wahoos”, and “Hoos”. There is a persistent myth and according to legend, Massachusetts resident Dr. Theodore Giesel better known to the majority of the world as Dr. Seuss had his application to the University of Virginia rejected. Giesel was allegedly so upset over being snubbed by UVA that he purchased a house on the hill overlooking the school, because its elevated location allowed him to “look down” on the institution that rejected him. It’s also allegedly the inspiration behind his famous children’s book How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

The University of Virginia’s football season has not been as pleasant as those children’s books that we grew up on. They’re entering the game on Saturday with a floundering 2-5 record, fresh off a 35-14 loss to North Carolina. They are currently 5th in the ACC Coastal Division with a 1-2 record. So far this season their passing game has been tepid with 1,878 yards ranked 34th in the country and their rushing attack has muddled along with 795 yards ranked 117th in the country. Defensively they are allowing 456 yards a game ranked 108th in the country.

Leading the Virginia offense is QB Kurt Benkert. He has 1,859 yards with 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions on the season. The Virginia Offense is very pass heavy with five players having over a 100 yards receiving. Benkert’s favorite targets are WR’s Olamide Zaccheaus (439 yards, 5 touchdowns), Keeon Johnson (323 yards, 3 touchdowns), and Doni Dowling (309 yards, 1 touchdown). One of the Cavaliers most dynamic players is RB Taquan Mizzell. He is the head of the rushing attack with 461 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also ranks 4th in their passing attack with 211 yards and 1 touchdown. Mizzell has a reception in 40 straight games, which is tied for the third-longest active streak in the nation and the longest of any running back. He poses the biggest challenge to the Louisville defense on Saturday.

Speaking of that Louisville defense the Cardinals held their fourth opponent to under 250 yards of total offense by limiting NC State to 250 yards of total offense on Saturday. NC State, which entered the game averaging 186.2 yards on the ground, were held to a season-low 14 yards on 25 carries. The Cards moved up to 19th in rushing defense, yielding 116.1 yards per game. And while Cavaliers running back Taquan Mizzell will be one of the best offensive players the Cardinals have faced this season he won’t find running on these Cardinals easy. The Cardinals, who are 19th in the country against the run allowing 116.1 yards per game have yielded an average of 62.0 yards over the last two games. Keith Kelsey has been credited with 31 tackles over the last four games to give him 51 on the season, which is now tops on the team in 2016. I would really like to see Devonte Fields have a big game on Saturday. He needs to find his groove again.

The Virginia Defense is giving up 171 yards a game on the ground and giving up 285 yards a game through the air. Leading the Cavaliers on defense is line Backer Micah Kiser with 77 tackles and 3.5 sacks. And safety Quin Blanding who has 75 tackles and 1 interception. Kiser (11.0) is leading the ACC in tackles per game and Blanding (10.7) is No. 2 in the ACC in tackles per game. These two guys are good but they’ll have their hands full with Heisman leading Lamar Jackson who leads the Cardinals in rushing with 130 carries for 908 yards and a whopping 16 touchdowns, and is 134-of-230 through the air for 2131 yards and 18 scores.

Every ‘Hoo down in ‘Hooville
Liked college football a lot
But the Leaping Lamar, who rules the ville,
They will not

All four games in the series between the Cardinals and Cavaliers have been won by a touchdown or less, including the first three on field goals in the closing minutes. Anytime you play a conference road game you can expect to get that team’s best shot. And while I think the Cavaliers don’t really stand a chance against the Cardinals high powered offensive attack I do think they can keep it interesting. Turnovers and penalties are things that can be a great equalizer in a football game especially on the road. The Cardinals have had 16 turnovers on the season (11 fumbles, 5 interceptions), and are one of the most penalized teams in college football with 9 a game for over 80 yards a game. This is an area that this Louisville team needs great improvement. And an area that could cost them in one of these for sure win games on the road.

That being said it should be another winning Saturday for our Cardinals and another big day for our Heisman hopeful… Go Cards!