FanPost

Previewing Cincinnati and The Spread

After a Thriller in the Grilla (Oven didn’t work there), the CARDS are now 7-0 for the first time since 2006, on the arm of an outstanding game from TD Bridgewater. This Friday night, Louisville will prepare for a 5-1Cincinnati team who technically has not won a road game this year. They were listed as the home team in the Virginia Tech victory in Maryland. The formerly ranked Bearcats lost to the Toledo Mud Hens Rockets in a game where the Toledo offense failed to put up a single touchdown. That is the reason you have to be sound in all three phases of the game. The Rockets returned a kickoff 91 yards for the go ahead touchdown just after Cincinnati had taken the lead. This is why our fans are so vocal about their worries regarding the CARDS special teams. This is about as big a game as I can recall in recent memory, and the CARDS have got to get it started early and keep it going all game long. It will again be nationally televised and offers a chance for Louisville to beat a respectable opponent and for ESPN to badmouth our team, Cincinnati, and the Big East as per usual. Also heard it will be on ESPN in Paducah, Owensboro, and Watkins Glen, NY. It will be blacked out everywhere else in the country in lieu of the World Series of Poker Main Event from 2003. My money is on Chris Moneymaker.

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At the end of each section, I rate the advantage or disadvantage on a 5 point scale. -2, -1, Even, +1, or +2. 2 point advantages are reserved for very big advantages or disadvantages. Let’s begin.

  1. Offensive Line Play – Who wins the battle of the Offensive lines? When you look at the Run game, both teams have had good success running the ball. Looking at the ability to protect the quarterback, Cincinnati has only given up 5 sacks on the year, while the CARDS have allowed 13. This is an area the CARDS have had a little trouble. But, Cincinnati has also played the 133rd best schedule in NCAA football according to the most recent Sagarin Ratings. However, the similarities between Legaux and B.J. Daniels are there. To an extent, the pass rush that was effective against USF could also work against Cincinnati. We will see the outcome of this game decided in the trenches. EVEN
  2. The Run Game – Cincinnati’s George Winn can run the football. He leads the Big East with 6.3 yards per carry. He has rushed for at least 75 yards in every game this season, and has broken 100 twice, running for 147 against Delaware State. On the other hand, Senorise Perry averages 5.5 yards per carry and has 3 100-yard-games and has run for at least 72 yards in 6 games this season. However, he is coming off of a sour outing of 29 yards and will likely be out to prove something. With Legaux having the ability to run, we will certainly see some called runs from the shotgun. If he gets pressured and avoids that pressure, he could have a big game. If he goes down, look for a victory from the team in White. This one pairs hand in hand with the previous section. Whoever wins the run game will likely win the game. EVEN
  3. Special Teams – Cincy’s punter, O’Donnel has pinned 9 of his 22 punts inside the 20 yard line. He also averages 43 yards per punt, 20th in the NCAA. They have also kicked 22 touchbacks on 41 kicks. They have not allowed a single punt or Field Goal to be blocked on the season. Their kicker, Tony Miliano (he’s a kicker for the people) is 9/12 with his only three misses coming from between 40-49 yards. He has a long of 46 yards. We just don’t match up that well. Yeah, we can kick the ball, but if we are still missing extra points and getting punts blocked, we have some things to work on. However, they did allow a game winning kickoff return against Toledo, so they have shown a little bit of an inability to cover kickoffs. Still, CARDS -1
  4. Impact of "New" Players – ESPN actually having us on the real channel on a Friday night will be a NEW thing for us. Also, all white at home? The crowd is going to have to be the impact player of the game. We have to stay in the game and make the atmosphere electric if we want to keep this team in it. We saw how big an impact on the players cheering for a team had at the red white scrimmage. No reason it can’t be just as big of an impact in the Oven. With the CARDS playing at home, I think the crowd has a big part in this one. CARDS +1
  5. Coaching – Butch Jones is a good coach. Since taking over the Bearcats in 2010, he has gone 4-8, 10-3, and so far, 5-1. He is the kind of coach that gets his players to play for him, and to play better than they really are. He has improved this team dramatically over the past few years. He usually knows how to keep his players focused. That did not happen last week against the Toledo Red Rockets. Do we expect a big game from an angry team and an angry coaching staff? Perhaps, or maybe some weaknesses were exposed in the loss. Either way, the Charlie Strong X-press looks to keep rolling. They were certainly paying attention in that game to see what they could do to take advantage of the Bearcats in all 3 phases of the game. I am not one to bet against the UofL coaches, Strong Faith in the Strong Faith. They are still young coaches, but so are the ones on the other sideline. And this sideline has no losses and seven wins. CARDS +1
  6. Depth – Cincinnati has 22 seniors and 18 juniors. However, they have more freshmen and redshirt freshmen on the roster, at 43 players in these categories. This year they had 16 first time players starting in their first game of the season. They are not quite as deep as the CARDS are this year. We seem to be able to plug in different players and play, as evidence of the O-Line in the last game. I would take our depth over theirs. CARDS +1
  7. Defensive Pressure – How much can LoMo get to Legaux? Lorenzo, or Crazy Train (LOcoMOtive, get on the train) is looking like the type of player that can really control a line and a game. If he can be effective against the O-Line that, coming into the season was a question mark for UC, then we could have a good chance. Expect to see a couple of plays where their pass blockers just look confused. At the same time, I don’t think we rush more than 4 or 5 max on any play, as we allow BAM or Preston Knowles Brown (both #2) to spy the QB and direct the D. Without Walter Stewart, this UC Defense does not look quite as menacing as they would with him. I don’t see them getting to the QB enough to rattle Teddy. Keep it to 2 sacks allowed in this game, which is one below their average, and I think TD Bridgewater leads the CARDS to victory. CARDS +1
  8. Expectations – Most people are expecting to see a victory in this game from the CARDS. It will be the first “Gimmick Game,” a “White Out,” under Coach Strong’s tenure here. D.J. McHatesBlacks approval? Of course. While it was only announced today, hopefully word of mouth will travel. If not, everyone run to Walmart right now and buy a 6 pack of white t-shirts to bring to the game and hand out. I will be doing this. Munchie expects to be better in this game. Most of the rest of the country has its collective eyebrow raised. We will see how much better he says he is versus how much better he is. IMO, he is a better running quarterback because he doesn’t throw the ball as well or as accurately and fears his blind side. Conversely, TD is a throw first quarterback, and really only runs when the opponent is leaving it open or when he has to evade pressure. 70% of SportsNation on ESPN has the CARDS winning this one. I expect it to be close, too. And the good news about close games is, we have played a lot of close games, we haven’t lost a single one of them. CARDS +1
  9. Position EdgesMunchie Legaux is “Better?” than TD Bridgewater, but Teddy gets the nod in my book. Senorise and Wright are about even with Munchie and Winn. The Offensive lines are pretty close in this one too. Our Defensive Line could out play their D-Line just because of the injury to Walter Stewart. I think their Special Teams is better than ours, but they have shown an inability to cover Kicks. Our Defensive Backs are about the same as their defensive backs, and play in very similar styles. And I would also take our Wide Outs in this battle. CARDS +1
  10. Offensive Improvement – The offense looked good at times of last week’s game, and I will expect to see Teddy do a little bit more of the 2 minute drill with some no huddle in this game to keep the UC D off balance. There were times in the game where the CARDS just didn’t look like they had enough. This is where the offense will have to improve. It can certainly happen. Especially if Teddy can run a slightly quicker paced offense. I know, Coach Strong wants to control the Time of Possession battle and can achieve that by running the ball and grinding out wins, but TD wants to use his Bazooka. Why not when you don’t miss? If the offense can improve in this game, the CARDS will win, if not, this will be another game too close for comfort. Cincy is in the same boat, where they played a good game, but not near good enough to be pleased. Legaux has only completed 53% of his passes, to TD’s 73%, If he cannot be more accurate, his run/pass offense may turn into a 1dimentional game. He threw two interceptions last week, and this offense cannot afford that this week. If they don’t improve, look for the UofL “White” Birds to win it. CARDS +1

As of Thursday evening, the spread sits with the CARDS as a 3.5 point favorite from everywhere I have looked. This will be a close game. We know this. It is arguably the best competition we have faced this season to date. With the spread what it is, the CARDS get two points for owing the home field advantage, so they really are only saying we are a point and a half better than UC. Remember, fans at the game, this team will need you for at least two points. Make this advantage something the Bearcats cannot overcome. Stay loud, stay strong, stay long. I have the CARDS as a 6 point favorite according to this write up. But I think it could definitely be closer than that in this game. It could come down to a field goal winning this one. I think it could go either way, but the way these points fall, if the CARDS to get some breaks, it could be an even bigger margin that 6.

I see the CARDS taking the ball first and marching right down the field, getting the crowd really into it on UC’s first possession. This one goes back and forth for a little while, and is 14-13 CARDS at the half. In the second half, the story line will have to be defense for Louisville. Down 20-14, I believe their strength and conditioning will finally become evident in this one as the CARDS score a couple late and win it by 11. I could easily see it coming down the same way for the other side, but I really think the more accurate quarterback will win this game. I’m going with the CARDS to move to 8-0 through 2/3rds of their season and for the Keg of Nails to finally end up back in a trophy case guarded by Johnny Unitas and a metal football to fling at intruders and a golden arm deliver it. OSM Prediction: 34-23

Beat Kentucky!!! Then Beat the Bears!!! Then Beat the Tar Heels!!! Then Beat FIU!!! Then Beat Southern Miss!!! Then Beat PITT!!! Then Beat USF!!!

Then Beat Cincinnati!!! Go CARDS!!!


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