RON THOMPSON VS. GERON CHRISTIAN/KENNY THOMAS
UofL's pass protection has been abysmal this year with teams blitzing nonstop. Syracuse is a team that doesn't typically come with a lot of overload pressure but they will blitz a decent amount while dropping guys into short zones. With that being the case I think the main matchup will be between Syracuse's top pass rusher and the freshmen tackles that have struggled at times. Thompson is a guy that has decent size at 255 pounds that allows him to utilize his speed as well as power when rushing the passer. He does a very good job of setting up tackles for a speed rush and switching to power to push the linemen back into the pocket. Cuse hasn't defended the pass well this year so UofL needs to be able to take advantage of that. Thompson is the one player up front that has proven he can cause issues.
TREVON YOUNG VS. IVAN FOY
Syracuse only has a few veteran players that see the field and one of their best is left tackle Ivan Foy. Louisville has double their sack total over the last two weeks and most of them have come from Trevon Young. Put those two things together and you have a very intriguing matchup this weekend. If (Always a big if) Cuse's coaches have any sense they will give Omari Palmer help on the right side and force Todd Grantham to put Young on the opposite side against their much better tackle. Young has been absolutely phenomenal over the last few weeks but Foy and a decent game plan from Syracuse's coaches could be his toughest test since he started his streak. Wake Forest had freshmen tackles just like FSU. Boston College has one of the worst offenses in recent history (.69 points per drive is the worst since the FIU team UofL beat with a running clock). This matchup will be a lot of fun to watch and it could be the most important one in the game.
JOSH APPLEBY VS. BRISLY ESTIME
Josh Appleby has been a fan favorite this year as he has been outstanding when it comes to landing punts inside the 20 as well as forcing fair catches. The issue with that is that he has been punting from midfield most of the time and when he has have to punt from negative territory, he's struggled. Appleby will be punting to a guy that is second in the nation in return average. Brisly Estime has taken two punts back for scores and he has a few other pretty good size returns. Louisville has had a fairly rough season on special teams and their punt coverage has been unremarkable when tested. Appleb has shown that he can be very accurate so far this season. He will really have to show that in trying to put the ball near the sideline to give Louisville an "extra" defender.
LAMAR JACKSON VS. ANTWAN CORDY
As I've said before, Louisville's offense goes as Lamar Jackson goes. Last week Jackson showed that he could be a consistent passer and he didn't make a lot of costly mistakes. Even though Jackson was really good as a passer Wake was able to show, again, that he can be contained as a runner. Wake, BC, and FSU all used pressure up the middle to force Jackson run around people to escape pressure as opposed to having a direct line to more yards. Houston showed early this year that bringing a safety up the field works well, also. Jackson is young and he still has the mindset that he can outrun everyone. He's fast, but not many players are fast enough to outrun the athletes you see at this level. Atwan Cordy is that type of athlete. He is the type of guy that uses his closing speed to track down outside runs and he is very good at it. Cordy is extremely undersized at 5-8, 185 pounds but that hasn't stopped him from racking up nine tackles for loss. Where he can really impact this game is when Jackson scrambles outside as well as when he keeps the ball on read option.
When a team runs option, the quarterback keys on the defensive end or outside linebacker as the "pitch man". The best way you can defend this is by having a safety or nickel back that can key the quarterback. Cordy can be that guy. When Jackson keeps, Cordy can get to him in a hurry to bring him down. Teams haven't done a great job with this as Jackson has been able to run pretty well for at least a handful of yards for the most part. Cordy is the first guy that UofL has faced that could actually stop that play as opposed to just being able to string it out to the sideline. If Syracuse can contain Jackson, their offense gives them a better chance of pulling off the upset than BC or Wake's did.