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Scouting Louisville’s Next Opponent: Houston’s Offense

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Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Louisville Cardinals look to their home opener against the Houston Cougars. The Cougars amassed 621 yards of total offense in their 52-24 victory over Tennessee Tech. Quarterback Greg Ward threw for 275 yards and 1 touchdown and added 101 yards on the ground. Demarcus Ayers added 10 receptions for 121 yards and 44 yards rushing on 4 carries. Below is a breakdown of the Houston offensive plays to get a closer look at what the Cardinals will be facing.

Left

Center

Right

Comp -Att -Int -TD

27 - 37 - 355 - 0 – 1

Passing (Completions / Yds)

3 – 103

1 - 39

>25 Yds

YPC = 35.5

21-25 yds

16-20 yds

3 – 34

11-15 Yds

YPC = 11.3

1 – 7

2 - 17

6-10 Yds

YPC = 8.0

0-5 Yds

17 – 155

Screen / Shovel YPC = 9.1

Left

T

G

C*

G

T

Right

Rushing Att.

4

2

2

28

4

0

5

45

Yds

14

24

7

150

22

0

49

266

Yds / Att

3.5

12

3.5

5.4

5.5

0

12

5.9

*Includes QB Keepers where no specific description was given

Notes:

  • 113 of the Cougars 266 rushing yards were by the quarterbacks.

  • Only 10 completions were not a screen or shovel pass.

  • The RB group had 109 yards on 25 carries for a 4.36 average

  • Houston completed passes to 9 different receivers (7 had 2 or more receptions)

  • Houston completed 17 of 18 screen / shovel pass attempts. 7 Completions went for 10 yards or more.

Clearly Houston Head Coach Tom Herman has brought the Ohio State mentality to the Cougars; get the ball in space to your athletes and turn them loose. This worked very well against an OVC opponent; will it work against the Cardinals? A few key points may be worth watching:

  • Houston’s offensive line struggled with traditional running plays. Taking away QB Keepers, the Houston backs ran for 71 yards between the tackles on 20 attempts. (3.6 YPC)

  • Houston’s offensive line had a 15 pound per person advantage against the defensive front of Tennessee Tech, and a 51 pound advantage against their front 7.

  • Tennessee Tech managed to get 4 QB Hurries and 2 sacks against the Cougars.

  • Louisville’s defense had 3 interceptions, 4 pass breakups, and 3 tackles for loss versus Auburn.

  • Louisville’s defense allowed only 4 - 3rd down conversions versus Auburn.

    Takeaways

    Houston can make this a close game if:

  • They are successful running on the edges.

  • Utilize the screen pass effectively to draw the Card’s secondary in close.

  • Use the screen to set up the deep ball.

Louisville will win the defensive battle if:

  • They neutralize Demarcus Ayers.

  • Contain Greg Ward’s running ability and keep him in the pocket.

  • Limit the yards after catch of Houston’s receiver.

Houston will have to use their formations to get their key playmakers in space. The Cardinals should shut down the inside run game and force Houston to rely on the screen and shovel passes to make plays. Louisville’s defensive speed should match up well against the Cougar’s offensive playmakers. While Houston will not be completely stopped, they will be slowed, as the bulk of their plays will likely be into the teeth of an aggressive defense.