Game News and Notes
BC (4-2. 0-2) and Louisville (3-3, 1-2) take the field 4pm on Saturday at Cardinal Stadium. With both teams coming off two game conference losing streaks, this game is a bit more critical as we start the second half of the season gets underway. The Cardinals are coming off a bye week after previously losing close contests to Wake Forest and then Virginia, while the Eagles are of course coming off brutal-in-their-own-way losses to Clemson and NC State. BC will look to knot up the series at seven apiece.
Dennis Grosel somehow now faces Louisville for the third straight year, but the first time as the starter. He came in for Anthony Brown and proceeded to toss three td’s and did similar for Phil Jurkovec last season. He’s 1-1 against the Cardinals in those stints and has been pretty electric in each one. Something about seeing those cardinal color. On the other side, Malik Cunningham has been on the opposing side in each of those matchups. What a rivalry.
An issue the Cardinals have been dealing with recently is conservative play-calling on both sides of the ball. Despite the prolific offense (24th in total yards, and the 13th best offense per Bill Connelly’s SP+), play-calling has allowed to teams to get back into games or not allow the team to separate. Third down on offense has not been good, whereas BC has excelled there defensively holding teams to under 30% conversion (top 10 in the country). Of course, Louisville has only played one cupcake (EKU), but still impressive stats.
Matchups to Watch
Hafley described Louisville as probably the most athletic offense he’s seen on tape. The speed of Cunningham is going to be a problem. He ran for 133 last season on 17 carries. The receivers and some of the backs have rare quickness as well. This is going to be a challenge with a stretched defense. As we remember, BC had some trouble with the mobile quarterbacks last year. They did a solid job containing DJ against Clemson, but unlike the Tigers this offense is clicking. We may not be able to fill up the stat sheet in terms of sacks and tackles for loss, but the line needs to stay discipline and contain. But behind them, it’s all about sticky coverage to combat Louisville’s quick passing game and stretch runs. Josh DeBerry’s name hasn’t been called too much (which is a good thing) and he’s been very consistent, but expect to see his name pop up on the stat sheet a bit more this time.
Marshon Ford is leading the Cardinals in receiving (barely) with 265 yards. The team does a good job spreading the ball around — three other players are within five yards of the tight end. At running back, it’s power back Jaeln Mitchell leading the way, but Hasan Hall is another name to watch out for.
Louisville is going to make Grosel throw the ball. It’s going to be everyone’s game plan here on out forcing BC to drift away from leaning on the run game. Louisville has struggled with vanilla coverage where teams exploit gaps in zones. Look for someone like Trae Barry to cause problems. Tyler Vrabel should figure to return to the lineup. If the offensive line can continue to dominate, BC could still very much run the ball if they can’t stop it.
BC +190/Louisville -235
Hammer the over, but a little less than I said in our weekly Q&A. Louisville has scored 30+ points in each game, but a porous defense tells me BC can keep up. Key to the game for BC will be taking care of the ball, and hopefully having things break for them this go around. BC 37 - UofL 34
Reports of BC’s demise were greatly exaggerated. Alright, maybe not all that exaggerated, but a win is a win. The speed of Louisville was an issue at times, but the Eagles nabbed some luck in the turnover department which swung the game. It was by no means perfect, but Hafley and his players responded to the criticism to get them back on their general trajectory.