Opponent Breakdown: North Carolina

Louisville faces a North Carolina team that is coming off of a pretty bad loss at Wake Forest last week. Larry Fedora brings his fast-paced offense that we all saw in the 2010 Beef O'Brady's Bowl to PJCS. We won't see the same defense that we saw in that bowl game, but luckily for us it is very similar to Kentucky's.

UNC will be one of the biggest games we have this season and it might also wind up being the most entertaining.

OFFENSE:

Larry Fedora has dubbed his offense the "Fed Spread" and it's built around certain expectations. Fedora wants to run over 80 offensive plays a game while getting the play off within ten seconds of the previous play. The goal is to overwhelm the defense and catch people off guard. It's pretty much a sped up version of UK's no-huddle offense. The major difference with this offense is that it's not based completely on short passes. Fedora will utilize the size of his receivers and throw the ball down the field. He also uses wide splits with his offensive line. This makes the defensive line spread out and creates bigger holes for the running back. To put it bluntly, Fedora makes the defense react to his offense instead of the other way around.

UNC's line is enormous but they move pretty well for their size. They opened holes for the backup running backs last week and did a pretty decent job of protecting Renner. It will be vital for Louisville's defensive line to get to the quarterback as well as holding their ground in the run game so that the linebackers and safeties can make plays on Bernard. Marcus Smith had 3 sacks in last years game, so hopefully we can have success pressuring Renner again this year.

KEY PLAYERS: QB Bryn Renner, RB Gio Bernard, WR, Eric Highsmith, LG Jonathan Cooper, LT James Hurst

DEFENSE:

UNC runs pretty much the exact same defense that UK does. The only real difference is the talent. Fedora brought both of his coordinators from Southern Mississippi when he got the job in Chapel Hill. Last season his Southern Miss defense scored an insane 11 defensive touchdowns to lead the nation. The defense is designed to cause turnovers and obviously it allows it's players to do just that. UNC has three interceptions on the year and it's cornerbacks are free to take risks because of the protection they get from having three safeties playing behind them. The defense doesn't blitz very often and they don't play a ton of press coverage so Teddy should be able to keep up the trend of spreading the ball to different receivers in the short passing game. Wake Forest slot receiver Michael Campanaro had an absolute field day on crossing routes last weekend, pulling in 13 catches for 164 yards and a touchdown. Eli Rogers and Scott Radcliff could be in for a big game if we can replicate some of the schemes Wake went with.

UNC has big defensive tackles like we saw in week one this season. Sylvester Williams will hear his named called in the first three rounds come April and a nationally televised game will be a good opportunity to showcase his ability. Their line is much more active than the two teams we've played so far and they will provide a different test for our offensive line. We didn't run the ball very well last week and I'm sure that Shawn Watson will try to establish the run game early on. Louisville will have to try to sustain drives to give the defense time to rest. Running the ball is the easiest way to keep the offense on the field for an extended period of time.

KEY PLAYERS: MLB Kevin Reddick, DT Sylvester Williams, CB Tim Scott, FS Tre Boston

NOTES:

  • Kevin Reddick and Jonathan Cooper are arguably (not my argument) the best players at their respective positions in the entire country. Both have been named to preseason All-American lists and will be high draft picks.
  • Gio Bernard was a first team freshman All-American last season.
  • UNC has the luxury of lining up four receivers at a time that are all over six-foot-three.
  • Only one freshman starts on either side of the ball. Redshirt freshman Sam Smiley (Real name).
  • Larry Fedora has a head coaching record of 34-16. However, he is 0-1 versus Charlie Strong.
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