EJAUN PRICE VS. LOUISVILLE'S TACKLES
The ACC has no shortage of pass rushers and Price is one of the best. Louisville's tackles have been tested all season and for the last few games they have passed that test with fairly high scores. Ron Thompson and Mike Moore were both blanked over the last two games. Some of that can be attributed to a change in offensive philosophy but the improved play shouldn't be discounted too much.
Where Price excels is in his ability to use his smaller stature to his advantage. Leverage is key in the trenches and Price has shown a great ability to get into blockers and get great push. Aaron Epps and Geron Christian are both very tall players that tend to "play tall". They're susceptible to defensive linemen getting lower than them and winning the leverage battle. Price could cause some major issues if he's able to push the tackles back into the pocket and into Kyle Bolin.
TYLER BOYD VS. JOSH HARVEY-CLEMONS
The leading receiver in the ACC is a title that Tyler Boyd was close to holding for the last two years. He had to compete with Sammy Watkins, Jamison Crowder, and Rashad Greene who all now play in the NFL. The most impressive thing about Boyd is that for the last two years, he's been the only consistent threat in Pit's passing game. Everyone knows he's getting the ball and he's rarely stopped.
Boyd will line up all over the field but where I think he causes the biggest mismatch is in the slot against Josh Harvey-Clemons. To put it bluntly, JHC has been a liability in man coverage this season. He doesn't use his size to bump players at the line and he can't run with the guys he's matched up against. It's a no-win situation and teams will continue to exploit it until something changes. Harvey-Clemons should use his size to his advantage and press players and bump them at the line to throw them off of their route. It should be pointed out that this is likely a coaching decision and not likely something that JHC is doing on his accord. But, at some point something has to change. If Boyd is allowed a free release into man coverage against Harvey-Clemons, it will be a long day for UofL.
DEANGELO BROWN VS. ARTIE ROWELL
The most unheralded member of the UofL defense is DeAngelo Brown. Brown plays the thankless position of nose tackle. He also plays it extremely well. Brown has 6.5 tackles for loss on the season and he is a very large part of the reason that Keith Kelsey and James Burgess are having good seasons. Brown has an incredible "get off" that can really catch a center off guard after the snap.
Artie Rowell has had some of the same issues UofL fans have seen with Tobijah Hughley. A snap infraction here, a missed assignment there, not snapping the ball at the right time. Rowell is not a bad player when it comes to being a pure blocker. He does fine holding the line of scrimmage and he played pretty well against some good competition. Where Rowell really struggles is when Pitt asks him to block in space. There were multiple times in the games that I watched where Rowell ended up not ever making it to his block on screens and reverses. Rowell is mobile for a really big guy, but he's just not quite mobile enough to get all the way out to the numbers to block for a screen pass. That has led to the receiver being right on his heels and the defensive back being able to get around Rowell who is still running at full speed.
Rowell will be a key factor in Pitt's ability to run the football against Louisville's front seven. He will have to play mistake free and at the very least impact Brown's ability to blow up run plays. He won't be able to completely control him but he has to be able to stop Brown from being able to throw of the timing of the play.
NATHAN PETERMAN VS. LOUISVILLE'S PASS DEFENSE
Nathan Peterman has been playing out of his mind in conference play this season. He's completing 66% of his passes and he's thrown for ten touchdowns with no interceptions. What really stands out about his play is that he's started to spread the ball around to guys not named Tyler Boyd. That trust in his receivers has helped Pitt put up 61 points against Notre Dame and Duke over the last two games. I think it says a lot about Peterman that he understands that Boyd is who everyone keys on and he worked on getting other guys involved.
Peterman is a mobile quarterback that does a good job of avoiding pressure and finding a way to pick up yardage. UofL's defense will have to crash the pocket to keep him bottled up so that he doesn't sneak out and pick up cheap first downs. Peterman won't run the ball unless he has to, but he's plenty capable enough to pick up big yardage if he slips out of the pocket.
The one game where I saw Peterman struggle was against Notre Dame. They seemed to get him out of a rhythm pretty quickly and Peterman started to rush passes. I think that Louisville could see the same thing this weekend if they get their normal pressure on Peterman. If they can get him uncomfortable I think that UofL's safeties and linebackers can step into some passing lanes and get an interception or two. If the pressure doesn't make Peterman rush his throws, he's shown that he can put up great numbers.