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Wednesday Evening Cardinal News and Notes

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Congratulations to our man Mark Ennis on the birth of the extremely handsome and talented Anas Mahmoud Ennis (or Samuel Ennis ... definitely one of the two).

I_medium Spread Check: Clemson by 6.5.

I_medium You should wear black tomorrow .... not red or white. Wear black. It's a blackout.

I_medium I echo this sentiment completely. Let's remember that the two randos posting YouTube videos (see below) are not indicative of that fan base as a whole.

I_medium Here's Montrezl Harrell talking about saving the man from the burning car earlier this week.

I_medium Despite a dramatic late goal to force the match into overtime, the 10th ranked Louisville men's soccer team fell to No. 16 Saint Louis 3-2 at Lynn Stadium last night.

I_medium Jeff Greer goes five questions with Clemson beat writer Aaron Brenner.

Louisville was three yards away from beating Clemson in Death Valley. The players and coaches at Clemson have talked about that, and how they know Louisville will be hungry and in that "wounded animal" mode on Thursday. Does Clemson view this as a big game like Louisville does? Maybe for different reasons, considering it's the start of a really tough three-game stretch?

It's interesting, because while I didn't dare ask if this was a trap game, I've been thinking that. This is the odd matchup that Clemson spoke of not looking forward to before the App State game, but also can't overlook with Notre Dame on the horizon. I do think any player who thinks "oh, this team's 0-2, they're not that good" is kind of a fool, because obviously, Louisville's capable. Swinney's one heck of a motivator, and without a doubt, he's reminded his players that his team came very close to losing last year's Louisville game, which likely would have altered the complexion of the season in which Clemson squeezed out 10 wins.

True, Clemson has spent the last three years dominating most of the ACC and losing the de facto ACC Championship game to Florida State - but if the Tigers blow this, they risk finishing 7-1 at best in the ACC and losing out on the Charlotte trip based on a tiebreaker. So, I can't speak for the mindset of the players in the locker room, but they probably should, you know, try hard Thursday night.

I_medium Four-star guard Andrew Jones' (2016) dad says his son's visit with the Louisville coaching staff was an "eye opener."

I_medium Rick Bozich breaks down Louisville-Clemson by the numbers.

I_medium Your complete ACC women's basketball schedule for 2015-16 is out:

I_medium If you're looking for a silver lining in Louisville's 0-2 start, it's the hope that the Cards' tough non-conference schedule has aptly prepared them for this moment.

I_medium Almost showtime.

I_medium The Shakin' the Southland folks have a pre-Louisville podcast (or "Pawcast") that's a solid listen if you have an hour to kill and want to get a sense of the opposing perspective. Spoiler: all three of them believe tomorrow night's game is not going to be close

I_medium Ok, now we have our second crazy Clemson fan video of the week (once again, extremely NSFW language below):

This is not safe use of an automobile.

Also, is he reading notes? Did he need notes for this diatribe? Alright, where was I? Ah, yes....CLEMSON IS MOTHERF---ING HERE! Was this a second or third take? Buncha questions.

I_medium Sports Illustrated looks at the 5 biggest storylines heading into tomorrow's game.

4. Can the Cardinals avoid more costly turnovers?

It's rare that the biggest question marks about a Bobby Petrino team all come on the offensive side of the ball. But such is the case so far with Louisville. The Cardinals wrecked themselves Saturday with a string of turnovers, including three from Jackson. His red-zone fumble killed a drive that could have put his team ahead 21-10 in the third quarter. Louisville recorded a better yards-per-play average than Houston, but a barrage of turnovers allowed the Cougars to pull the upset. Ball security has to be at premium for whomever the Cardinals start under center. Clemson's defense is inexperienced, returning just three starters from last year, but has playmakers in Shaq LawsonBen Boulware and Mackensie Alexander.

5. Will either team look like a conference champ?

Given Florida State's personnel losses the past two years, particularly Jameis Winston this off-season, both the Tigers and Cardinals drew preseason buzz as potential usurpers of the Seminoles' crown as the ACC champion. Louisville's expectations have fallen sharply after its 0-2 start, but neither loss harms its in-conference pursuits; if the Cardinals can make an immediate turnaround, their ACC goals are still attainable. Louisville hasn't opened a season 0-3 since 1984.

Clemson has begun its season exactly according to plan, though its wins haven't revealed much about the Tigers' chances. They had to replace a lot from last year's 10-win group, so the program's chances of surpassing Florida State rest on the ability to reload. Thursday offers the first true indication of whether Clemson has the overall talent to take down the Seminoles and possibly earn a College Football Playoff berth. Regardless of the outcome, the ACC title race will undoubtedly be a little more clear by the end of Thursday night.

I_medium A very happy birthday to Harry Douglas.

I_medium Louisville baseball will again be holding a pair of open scrimmages for fans this weekend. First pitch on Friday is set for 3 p.m., and things will kickoff at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

I_medium Blackout shirts have arrived.

I_medium Louisville makes an appearance in Tom Fornelli's (CBS) Bottom 25 .... which seems a tad extreme.

25. Louisville: 0-2 (Last Week: Unranked)

Best Win: None | Worst Loss: 34-31 vs. Houston

Average Score: 27.5-32.5 | This Week: vs. Clemson

I'm sure Louisville fans aren't thrilled to see the Cardinals here, but think about how I feel for a moment, would you? Sure, you're a fan, and you actually care about this team, but my confidence is on the line, and that's far more important. I picked this team to win the ACC!

I_medium This is not ideal.

On that same subject, Hale writes that Louisville's offensive line will be key if the Cards have any hope of upsetting Clemson.

The ground game has offered little support either. Louisville's running backs averaged just 4.08 yards per carry, with nearly 22 percent going for a loss or no gain.

"We need to be more physical, use our techniques and finish," Petrino said. "That's the biggest thing, being able to finish, get our hands in the proper position, drive our feet. And we've got a big challenge this week."

This isn't the same Clemson defensive front that dominated the ACC last season, but through two games, the Tigers' new faces on the D-line have looked impressive. And some of the young linemen have gotten critical reps late in games, which Clemson coach Dabo Swinney hopes has added some much-needed depth. Meanwhile, Carlos Watkins and Shaq Lawson have largely picked up right where their esteemed predecessors left off.

"He's a guy that we're counting on to have a great year," Swinney said of Watkins, who had an interception return for a touchdown against Appalachian State last weekend. "After two games he is right where we hoped he would be."

I_medium Saturday Blitz likes Clemson by two touchdowns tomorrow.

I_medium We've talked for a while now about getting an LCPT trophy, but that wasn't good enough for Nate Moreguelan. Now, thanks to Nate, we have individual plaques for all our champions.

Indescribably beautiful.

I_medium The Louisville ice hockey team will be taking on Kentucky Friday night in Lexington. Here are the details of that rivalry game.

I_medium Yes.

I_medium If you were looking for Dabo Swinney to give Louisville any bulletin board material, unsurprisingly, he did not deliver.

"They've got receivers who are huge — 6-foot-6, 6-4, 6-3 across the board — big, long, athletic guys," Swinney said. "There will be a lot of competitive plays that will have to be made. These guys will challenge us far more than anyone we've seen."

Adding to the equation is the fact that Clemson has no idea which quarterback it will be facing. Freshman Lamar Jackson has started both games for the Cardinals (0-2), but has been intercepted three times. Kyle Bolin and Reggie Bonnafon also have logged considerable time as the Cardinals struggle to find the right spark at the position, so the Tigers could see all three.

"With Jackson, you've got to cover their receivers forever because he has the ability to run around and extend time," Swinney said. "It's unbelievable the amount of time that he buys."

While Clemson lost eight defensive starters, Louisville, too, took a hit defensively. The Cardinals, who ranked fifth nationally in total defense last season, lost six defenders in the NFL Draft.

But Swinney reminds that the Cardinals are far from bereft of talent.

"Defensively they're really good," Swinney said. "They're kind of like us — they lost some good players on defense, but they've got a bunch of new ones who can play."

Swinney just hopes his "new ones" prove better Thursday night.

"It's a great opportunity for our team," Swinney said. "I'm anxious to see how they compete for four quarters in a hostile environment. We'll have our hands full."

I_medium Here's your token AP preview of the game.

I_medium And finally, beat Clemson (and wear black).