Louisville will head to the east coast this weekend to face Steve Addazio for the second time in two years. Addazio coached the Temple Owls to a 45-17 loss in to Louisville in 2012. Even with a 4-7 season that year, Addazio was hired with fanfare at BC last season and led the program to a bowl game in his first year. After a massive win over then-ranked USC he has his team rolling to what could be the best finish the program has had in a good while.
Tyler Murphy might very well be the starter for UofL if Charlie Strong had stayed here as the head coach. Murphy was looking to transfer from Florida and with Teddy Bridgewater headed to the NFL, Louisville was a solid landing spot for the dual threat quarterback. Murphy chose to head to BC to play for Addazio and his system that probably fits his skill set much better than Bobby Petrino's. Murphy looks to have made the right choice as he is ranked 20th in the nation in rushing yards per game with 107.2 per contest. Louisville hasn't faced a true running quarterback this year but they have done well at corralling mobile QBs when they scramble. Murphy doesn't scramble much at all. He just runs and he runs a lot. Murphy would lead Louisville in every rushing statistic and you just don't typically see that from a quarterback. He won't do amazing things with his arm out there with a 54% completion percentage. However, he can do some damage with playaction at times. I think Addazio will look to wear down the defense like FSU was able to do last week. If Murphy can't get things done in the pass game, though, I'm not sure that will happen.
BC will rely on two true freshmen to make big plays in the running game. Jon Hilliman is the feature back for the offense and he is a load of a back. He could be out with a shoulder injury, but he is listed on the depth chart. Hilliman looks and runs a lot like Andre Williams did last year. Williams ran for 2,000 yards and was invited to NYC to participate in the Heisman Trophy ceremony. Hilliman isn't that good just yet, but it really wouldn't surprise me if he gets to that point in the future. He doesn't have breakaway speed but he gets to the hole quickly and and is always going north and south. He will be key if they plan to wear down the front seven. Sherman Alston is a tiny guy that is a threat to make a big play every time he touches the ball. Alston is a wide receiver by roster distinction, but he runs the ball three times as much as he catches it. His 9 yards per carry show just how deadly he can be in the open field and his lack of size actually tends to help as he is able to hide behind blockers and burst out when he sees a hole. Throw in sophomore Myles Willis and BC has a group of four guys that can all run the ball well and keep each other fresh throughout the entire game.
The Eagles flat out don't have athletes outside. If they did this offense would be exceptional. They lost a lot of production and experience at the receiver position which is very evident when you realize that their backup quarterback from last season is their leading receiver. Josh Bordner and Dan Crimmins are both solid posses ion guys but they aren't much of a threat to make a big play. BC will need transfer Shakim Phillips to provide a deep threat as I expect Todd Grantham to leave Gaines and Floyd on an island and bring James Sample into the box regularly.
Ian Silberman was already on Louisville's campus when Charlie Strong decided to take the Texas job. He changed his mind about playing for the Cards the next day. Instead he headed to BC to join a line that starts four seniors and they are massive. BC loves to spread the field but they still run a power run offense. That is possible because of the skill and experience of this line. They have one of the better centers in the country in Andy Gallik and he does a great job of getting out and pulling on run plays. Not a lot of centers can accomplish that. They also do a very good job of protecting Murphy. With such a lack of speed outside, it takes passing plays longer to develop but the line has done a relatively good job of keeping Murphy clean. The interior of Louisville's defense will have to hold the point of attack and Mauldin and Mount will need to stay true to their assignments to keep Murphy from breaking outside on read option plays. This line does an excellent job of crashing down on off tackle plays and read option plays are where they are their best.
KEY PLAYERS: QB Tyler Murphy, RB Jon Hilliman, WR Sherman Alston, C Andy Gallik, RT Ian Silberman,
The lack of athleticism on this team is really evident on the defensive side of the ball. There aren't a lot of guys that run extremely well or make a lot of eye-popping plays. They do a great job of playing together as a team and it shoes up against the run. Their defensive line does an exceptional job of taking up blockers and wreaking havoc which allows the linebackers to run free and make plays. Sound familiar? They line up with three massive guys and one speed rusher and they mind their run fits very well. The lack of a pass rush from the line could be an issue for BC. While it is nowhere near bad, it isn't a very fast pass rush. Speed in the face of Will Gardner has been the issue over the last few weeks and it looks like those issues are being improved upon each week.
If there was a player that got away over the last few years that I really wanted UofL to land it was Steven Daniels. Daniels is out of Cincinnati St. X which produced Greg Scruggs and Darius Ashley. I always loved Daniels on film but he chose to head to BC where he has been a steady player. A jumbo linebacker, Daniels is very good against the run and rarely misses tackles. Where he can be exploited is if you can get him matched up in man coverage. Defensive Coordinator Don Brown likes to blitz his linebackers and safeties which at times requires his linebackers to match up with running backs. Daniels doesn't have the speed or athleticism to handle that assignment. Petrino and his affinity for wheel routes could be on full display Saturday. Josh Keyes makes up for some of Daniels lack of speed as he is the backer that tends to fly around and make plays. Louisville has had some issues with guys like Keyes on slower developing run plays but with the improvement of the offensive line, those issues might be in the past.
The back end of the defense is where the issues are for this very good defense. They don't have the athletes needed to slow down the top receivers in the league. Manuel Aspirilla and John Johnson have combined for zero interceptions and 11 PBUs. Which is three more than Charles Gaines has on the season. The same Charles Gaines that no one threw at the first 5 games of the season. With a defense that likes to bring pressure, you have to have guys that can hang with receivers and make plays when the ball comes their way. That's where BC is lacking and it has allowed some fairly questionable offenses move the ball way to easily. A suspect Virginia Tech offense had 345 passing yards last week. What might be worse is Wake Forest getting 242 the week before. With Louisville's improvement on offense and DeVante Parker probably at 100% for the first time this year, BC will have to be at their best in the secondary.
KEY PLAYERS: MLB Steven Daniels, DE Kevin Kavalec, SLB Josh Keyes, FS Justin Simmons
- Shakim Phillips scored a touchdown for UCONN against Louisville in 2012.
- Ty-Meer Brown started at safety in that game.
- Don Brown was the defensive coordinator for UCONN.
- In total, six coaches or players for BC suited up against Louisville in 2012.
- Tyler Murphy is the all time leading rusher for quarterbacks in BC history. He's played 9 games.