Today's matchup against the Cardinals should be a good one. To get some insider perspective about the game we chatted with SBNation's Card Chronicle.
BC Interruption: How has the inaugural year in the ACC gone for Louisville? Are fans happy with the outcome and state of the conference?
Card Chronicle: I think sans the Virginia loss, it's gone pretty much the way the majority of Louisville fans expected it to. The fact that Louisville is 6-3 isn't disappointing, but it's the way those three losses went down that has some Cardinal fans frustrated. U of L had a really, really good shot to win all three of those games, and for them to not have pulled out any is a pretty bitter pill to swallow right now.
Overall, I still think the fans are elated to be in the ACC. You have to remember, U of L fans have been dying for a home conference game like the one they had against Florida State last Thursday. Losing is never fun, but going 11-1 and playing nobody of any consequence isn't particularly enjoyable either. The last two years it felt like Louisville had way more to lose than it had to gain every time the Cards took the field, and I really think that wore on the fan base. Even with the losses, the added excitement has made this a more enjoyable campaign.
BC Interruption: Speaking of changes, talk a little about the differences you see between Charlie Strong and Bobby Petrino.
Card Chronicle: It's funny because heading into this season everyone would have said that the major difference was clearly a defensive coach vs. an offensive coach, but Petrino has spent the bulk of this year with a struggling offense and the top-ranked defense in the country. Still, this isn't how Petrino prefers to win games, whereas Strong was perfectly fine with beating bad teams 20-13, a trait that a lot of Louisville fans struggled to accept.
Petrino and Strong both kind of rule by intimidation, but I think Strong was more willing to have personal relationships with his players outside of football, something Petrino admits that he has needed to improve on. They're certainly two very different people with two very different styles, but they're also just enough alike that U of L has been able to successfully handle an unexpected coaching change without imploding.
BC Interruption: Quarterback Will Gardner has been battling injuries seemingly all season, what have you seen out of him this year?
Card Chronicle: It's been a mixed bag, but I don't think there's any doubt that he's coming off his best performance of the season. Will had two major knee injuries in high school, he missed his entire season, he redshirted his first year at U of L, and he was Teddy Bridgewater's backup last season. So when he took the field against Miami, he was taking his first meaningful snap in about four years. That's pretty crazy. I think that was part of the problem, and I also think knowing that he was being pushed by true freshman Reggie Bonnafon played a part. Ever since he came in against Clemson, he's been Petrino's guy, and I think that's done wonders for his confidence. He still has his moments where he locks into one guy or simply misses an open man, but he's made a lot of progress since the opening weeks of the season.
BC Interruption: Let's look at the other side of the ball, Louisville announced today that starting linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin is out, how will that effect Louisville's defense and who do you see stepping up on Saturday night?
Card Chronicle: It's a big blow, there's no doubt, but I think it's one that most people were anticipating. It was pretty clear that Lorenzo was playing hurt against Florida State, and when he had to be helped off the field, you knew he wasn't coming back.
This is an especially bad time for Lozo to be out because his strength and athleticism would be key in slowing down Tyler Murphy and a style of offense that U of L really hasn't seen this season. I think the big guy to keep an eye on for Louisville Saturday night is James Burgess. He's Todd Grantham's fastest linebacker and I think they're going to task him with a huge role in the effort to keep Murphy from running wild.
The other big thing is that the Cardinal secondary is going to have to step up and do some tackling. It's an extremely talented unit that has intercepted more passes than any other in the country, but there are some guys back there that are more ball hawks than run-stoppers. That's going to be a challenge they have to overcome against a BC team that probably isn't going to try and light them up through the air.
BC Interruption: Alright, prediction time, BC/Louisville, who do you got?
Card Chronicle: I am very, very nervous about this one. Louisville put an insane amount of time and effort into the Florida State game, and letting it slip away the way they did was a massive gut punch for a lot of guys on the team. Now they're playing without the one guy (Mauldin) who really makes sure that everyone is focused and excited. I think the Cardinals are the better team, but it wouldn't shock me if they were a step or two slower than they need to be Saturday night.
I think it's going to be pretty tight regardless, I'll say Louisville 28, Boston College 25.