I figured Monday's Front page on ESPN would read "Team from Lowly Big East UPSETS Powerhouse SEC's Team!" but that would mean they would have to notice that Louisville played. Moving on:
Last week, we looked at multiple sections of the game to figure out what areas were advantages and what were disadvantages for the CARDS against Kentucky. This week, we look at the FCS school
PITT Missouri State. They are coming off of a solid looking game against the Kansas State Wildcats, where they had that game tied with less than 8 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. Early on, this was mostly because Kansas State could not move the ball against the Bear Defense. K-State had two 3 and outs in a row in the first quarter. They were held to 3 field goals in the first half. This MO State Defense could be better than a lot of us think. Then again, it could have been Game 1 jitters from one side with the other coming out ready to play. I think we will find out a lot about their defense on the first three drives of the CARDS.
Again, here is how this works.
After reading his various 10 days entries of gocardsguy's pre-UK previews, I thought that assigning a number of points for each area would be a good way to look at the spread for each game. Each area can swing 2 points in favor of one team or the other. For example, Louisville can be +2 points for extreme advantages, +1 point for decided advantages, Even, -1 point disadvantage, or -2 points major disadvantage. There is a total of 20 points that can be gained or lost on this spread chart, two points in each of the 10 sections. These sections could be looked at and incorporated for each team we face, and to decide how we fare against the other team and how much we should win (or lose, no... win) by. Below is how much better or worse I feel we should fare against the other team this weekend. I know I know, the spread is 29 for this one, but follow your heart if you want to bet on this one. The purpose of this is more to just get used to the team and get excited for the game.
- Offensive Line Play -- For anyone who saw any of the Kansas State MO State games you would know that the Bears had trouble putting points on the board. But what you may not realize is that they got into the Red Zone or scored a field goal four times in the first 35 minutes of the game. They had their chances against what most people feel is a pretty good defense. Also, the Bears Offensive Line did not allow a single Sack by the KState Defense last Saturday. However, when you look at the CARDS Defensive line, you hope to see that stat go by the wayside. Also, with the Offensive line that will line up for the CARDS, it will be hard for their Defense to stop the UofL Run Game, especially with a new horse ready to run in the Strong's Thoroughbred Lounge. +2
- The Run Game -- The CARDS ran all over that "Powerhouse SEC's team's" Defense. You don't rack up 219 yards, and over 100 yards a piece for two running backs without a good game plan. Coach Watson and Coach Strong have set the tone: Run first and set up the Pass Game, then Pass unbelievably accurately. It should work just fine this week as well. On the other side of the ball, Missouri State looked good early, but after their first few drives, just was not able to move the ball. They came away with just 95 yards rushing on the day. Look for the CARDS Defense to be just as effective if not more effective at stopping the run against the Bears. +2
Special Teams -- This of course was an area of concern for most CARDS fans going into the first week of the season. After the first week, a few extra points and a field goal later, fans could be a bit more comfortable when the feet take the field. Also, expect our pressure to get to a kick or punt, and look for a big day for the return game for the CARDS. Kansas State was able to house an 89 yard punt return, so they have shown some vulnerability on the third phase of the game, although they have a punter (though he is a freshman) who can kill it deep. Advantage CARDS +1 ( we're still young here)
Impact of "New" Players -- The "New" players last week were not found on the field too often. This is encouraging/new/exciting to anyone who has followed UofL Football for more than 2 years. Players like Damian Copeland may not be "New" to the program, but may be new to some CARDS Fans. He came up big a few times last Sunday. Look for these two "New" players to get their names called for the first time this week: Corvin Lamb and Charles Gaines. I will be making my almost Anchorman reference of "I Love Lamb" every time he does something impressive. And the Big Gains "Big Gaines" may produce could be impactful as well. While the Bears offer a new quarterback, Missouri Transfer Ashton Glaser who threw for 257 yards, 50% passing with only one interception, he did look shaky from the second quarter on. Obviously the CARDS new guys should get the opportunity to make some big statements against the Bears, especially late in the game when some of the first string is off the field. CARDS +2
- Coaching -- I am going to use this same statement as last week because I thought it was pretty clever : The coaches in Louisville have some of the best things going nationally. If we can keep this group together for a couple years, they may want to stay forever. The Charlie Strong X-press (CSX -- Train. Duh.) has it rolling. Watson's playbook looked somewhat conservative but effective. Don't expect the CARDS to show too much this week with a big test looming next week in UNC in the Oven. I hear it gets hot there. You know what not to do. Head Coach Terry Allen has been a proven FCS Coach, but has never really produced in FBS matchups. He is 1-26 in these games with the Bears and have lost their last 25 straight. They may need the Huggies in this one. CARDS +2
- Depth -- Louisville's roster is full of experience. There are very few players on the Two Deep who have only one game started on their resume for the CARDS. They should all remember how they felt after FIU last year. They should all remember how they felt after Marshall last year. The older guys should not let any of the younger guys forget that. That is a spot where you may not think about it in football, but depth is important here. Also, they are deep at each position. Exciting! I would anticipate for the Bears to try to come out swinging, playing well for a quarter and a half, but they are just not deep enough to play with FBS Teams. They will be tired before half time. CARDS +2
- Defensive Pressure -- I really expected to see a lot more Blitzing last weekend, but LBA did a good job of getting the ball out quickly and changing the pace with the hurry-up. Look for Strong and Bedford to get the CARDS after it early and get after it often. The Defense should look much better this week and the fans should be much happier, especially playing an O-Line that is less experienced and less talented that that of LBA (Note: not a compliment to Kentucky). I don't expect Louisville that have much trouble pressuring their O-Line, even though the Bears did not give up a single sack against the K-State Wildcats. Look for a few sacks and more importantly, an interception or two caused by the Defensive Pressure. Seeing some return on their pressure will only help ramp up the play of the front 7 and the entire defense moving forward. CARDS +2
- Expectations -- With the spread where it is as of today, it is obvious what the expectations are in this one. The CARDS are expected to win it big. This was an issue last year, when we were expected to win games, we had trouble doing so, i.e. FIU, Marshall. However, this is where this team should be different if the CSX is rolling. Look for the CARDS to live up to expectations in this one. +2
- Position Edges -- Looking at the roster, we appear to be better than the Bears in just about every position. Special teams may still be shakey, but even if we miss a field goal, we could cancel that out with a blocked kick or kick return of our own. The CARDS look to be the dominant team on the field as far as talent, experience, and skill go all over the field. They do have a young punter who can boom it, and look out for Cadarrius Thompson, Senior Wide Reciever to make some plays, but don't expect these guys to change the outcome of the game. +2
Offensive Improvement -- The CARDS offense appears to be much improved from last year. This is partly thanks to everyone really being more comfortable with Watson's playbook. Oh yeah, also The Ted wears UofL Cardinal Red and Black. How much will they be improved this week from last. Don't expect it to be too much this week, because as I said earlier, they likely won't want to show everything heading into next weeks showdown with UNC. The Bears will likely have to improve more than any team ever to take this one after putting up 6 points against Kansas States D. CARDS +2
So, at this point, I see Louisville as a +19 out of 20 Point Favorite. It could honestly be a whole lot more, as indicated in the line. 29 points is a lot, but I look for the CARDS to take this one by 32 points. OSM Pick: 45-13.
I had a lot of fun at the game Sunday. Glad I saw some of you guys at the game. This week I will be in 202 row G, and will be the guy, again, wearing the same Anthony Conner jersey, the same black shorts, and the same UofL Socks. If it ain't broke...
Then Beat the Bears!!! Go CARDS!!!