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Louisville at Wake Forest game preview

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The Cardinals hit the road to face the unbeaten and 19th-ranked Demon Deacons of Wake Forest.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Notre Dame at Louisville Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (3-2, 1-1) at WAKE FOREST DEMON DEACONS (5-0, 1-0)

Game Time: 7:30 p.m.

Location: BB&T Field: Winston-Salem, N.C.

Television: ACC Network

Announcers: Dave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck and Katie George

Favorite: Wake Forest by 7

All-Time Series: Louisville leads, 4-2

Last Meeting: Wake Forest won 56-35 on Oct. 27, 2018 in Louisville

Series History:

Statistics:

Louisville Depth Chart:

Relevant Videos:

Louisville Uniforms:

About Wake Forest:

via Keith Wynne

OFFENSE

Dave Clawson and his “Clawfense” have been pretty impressive since he took over at Wake Forest. He has done very well considering the level of talent that he was working with. The 2019 season has shown what his offense can be when he has all of the pieces in place. Wake has one of the best offenses in the country, statistically and there are signs that it can get better. Louisville is coming off of a game where Scott Satterfield said his secondary was “shredded”. They’ll have to improve drastically to slow down this high powered offense.

Wake got a great boost late last season when Jamie Newman finally became the starter at quarterback. The team is 8-1 since he took over and I don’t know many guys that fit a system better than he does. Newman throws a beautiful deep ball while also having a great ability to hit the RPO throws in this offense that require a quick release. He is also a tank of a runner. Wake still runs that “huddle” style run where the quarterback and running back wait as long as possible to make a decision. Newman runs it better than any of the other guys they’ve had before. It’s an added bonus that he’s such a tough runner and a guy that can run away from some guys.

Newman is completing 70% of his passes on the year and he ranks in the top 20 nationally in almost every passing statistic. He’s also one of the top players when it comes to total offense. That’s the key to me. Louisville will have to find a way to contain one aspect of Newman’s game. The pass defense has obviously been bad over the last two weeks, but they can’t allow Newman to run wild on them as well.

The Wake rushing attack is led by Cade Carney this season with some help from a couple of backups. Carney is one of the last holdovers from the guys that Clawson brought into the program early on. He’s a tough back that loves to take on contact but he isn’t an explosive type of guy. He doesn’t really make guys miss in the open field and doesn’t have the speed to run away from defenders. He is a good back, however. This offense requires some tough running up the middle and Carney excels there.

I think the future of the running back position for Wake is Kenneth Walker. He’s a true freshman who has shown the ability to hit some big runs. He had a 90 yard run earlier in the season and has 6 runs of 20+ yards on only 33 carries. Christian Beal-Smith is also a guy that has shown some promise. Louisville handled the Boston College run game pretty well last week so they might have some success against a rushing attack that has struggled a bit.

The receivers for Wake are very good. Sage Surratt and Scotty Washington have exploded this season and they are tied for the ACC lead in touchdown catches. Both are big guys that can run well and this offense likes to take advantage of those things. Washington is 6-5 and he is averaging over 17 yards per catch on the year. He ripped through Louisville’s secondary two years ago for his first 100-yard game and has been a fairly steady option ever since. This year, he’s become a consistent threat to score at any moment. He uses his size very well and has seemingly fixed his issues with drops.

Surratt is the guy that is the biggest worry, to me. He can do a bit of everything as a pass catcher and he does them all well. Wake will set him up with the same quick slants that Greg Dortch killed with but they will also use him on quick screens, deep routes down the sideline, and deep throws over the middle. He’s the type of player that you don’t see getting shut down very often. He can be contained, though. BC did a good job of being sticky in their coverage on down the field throws and made him at least work hard for those catches. Louisville has actually done pretty well against outside receivers. They need to bring their best game this weekend.

Kendall Hinton and Jake Freudenthal are the interior receivers that Louisville has to worry about. Hinton is a converted quarterback who has shown some very nice moves in the open field. He has really good speed but I was caught off guard by how quick he was with the ball in his hands. Freudenthal is one of the best tight ends in the ACC and Wake does a pretty good job of getting the ball to him. He averages about two catches a game and a bit over ten yards per catch.

Wake gets rid of the ball fairly quickly on offense, so their pass protection is somewhat hard to gauge. They have started to push the ball down the field more this year and they’ve looked pretty good so far. They’ve only allowed six sacks on the year and they have done a good job blocking with the weird running play they like to run. Louisville does a lot of active things up front that could help them stop the run this week. Bryan Brown will have to get creative with his pressures in order to get some pressure on Newman.

DEFENSE

Wake Forest once had a defense that lived to create negative plays with an aggressive scheme. Those days seem to be over after a couple of changes at defensive coordinator. Mike Elko took a group of players that weren’t all that talented and utilized their speed to create an absurd amount of plays behind the line of scrimmage. Since he’s moved on, they haven’t seen the type of havoc that his defenses created. That has caused their team to have some much closer games than they maybe should have.

The defensive front for Wake Forest has played solidly so far this year. Carlos Basham is one of the best defensive ends in the ACC and he’s played like it so far this year. Basham has 4.5 sacks on the year to go along with two more tackles for loss. The issue for this line is that they are very young outside of Basham. They haven’t gotten a lot of tackles by the other guys up front and no on else is getting to the quarterback enough. Louisville has allowed a lot of tackles for loss this year, but they have to at least make this defensive front make those plays if they are made.

The best group on this defense is the linebackers, in my opinion. Justin Strnad leads the ACC in tackles per game and he flies all over the field. Wake has done a great job at getting guys that can run when it comes to their defensive recruiting. Strnad wasn’t highly recruited and he was very undersized. But they saw his athleticism and knew that he could develop. It’s paid off as he’s played a more vital role each year he’s been there. Louisville’s offensive line has to make sure that they don’t get out over their pads when they try to block him. He’s quick enough to skirt a block and get into the hole to make a play.

Luke Masterson and Ryan Smenda are the other two linebackers in the 4-3 alignment Wake plays. Smenda starts in the middle and is third on the team in tackles. Masterson is a converted safety that plays in their rover position that is similar to the “Card” position Louisville has. He’s another guy that has impressed me with his speed. He’s not an amazing player in coverage but he does provide this team with some versatility.

Wake Forest has the same pair of starting corners for what seems like the sixth straight season. Essang Bassey and Amari Henderson have been very solid corners for Wake for a while now and they’re off to a good start to this year, also. Both players are among the top players in the conference in passes defended and Henderson has two interceptions on the year. While the Wake Forest pass defense isn’t very good, these two players cover well and make big plays for the defense.

Safety is a bit of a question for Wake. Nasir Greer has made a lot of tackles but that’s about it. They don’t really get any impact plays from the guys in the back and nothing that I’ve seen has shown them as guys who can handle the Louisville receivers in coverage. The secondary in general is where Louisville has to take advantage. Getting players down the middle of the field should pay off.

Excitement Level: 7.9

Saturday night October away game where the Cards have a legitimate shot to knock off an undefeated, top 20 team. We can work with this.

Game Attire: Grey old school Cardinal bird shirt, red Louisville pullover

We’re keeping things exactly the same as a week ago.

Pregame Meal: Chili

Perfect fall football weekend. This is the only play.

Bold Prediction: TuTu Atwell throws a touchdown pass

Louisville set like five offensive school records last week but couldn’t hit the bold prediction. Even so, we’re stepping up the boldness this week.

Ty Tyler Sack Alert Level: Granny Smith Apple (it’s happening)

Our guy had yet another QB hit last week, and suddenly the Alert Level is overflowing with confidence.

Predicted Star of the Game: Dez Fitzpatrick

The man has reminded us each of the last two weeks why he’s worthy of NFL buzz. He’ll do it again Saturday night in Winston-Salem.

Notable:

—A win over Louisville would give Wake Forest eight consecutive victories for the first time in program history.

—Louisville has lost 10 consecutive games against top 25 opponents. Via Kelly Dickey, that is the longest such streak in program history. The previous record of nine straight losses to ranked foes began with a loss to Howard Schnellenberger’s Miami Hurricanes in 1982 and ended with Schnellenberger leading the Cardinals past Alabama in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl.

—Under head coach Dave Clawson, Wake Forest is 0-6 in games immediately following off weeks. The Demon Deacons were off last week. Four of those six losses came by 14 points or more.

—Wake Forest is off to a 5-0 start for the first time since 2006 and just the fourth time in program history.

—Louisville is 3-33-1 all-time in road games against top 25 opponents.

—All three of Louisville’s road top 25 wins came when the Cards themselves were unranked. The last of those came in 2011, when Charlie Strong’s Cardinals upset No. 24 West Virginia, 38-35.

—Wake Forest has already completed an undefeated non-conference portion of the schedule at 4-0 for the first time since its Orange Bowl season of 2006.

—Louisville is 2-1 against Wake Forest in games played outside of Cardinal Stadium. The Cards are 1-1 at BB&T Field, and also defeated the Demon Deacons at the 2007 Orange Bowl in Miami.

—Wake Forest is the least penalized team in the FBS, amassing just 16 flags in five games. The Deacs also rank first among FBS schools in fewest penalty yards with a total of just 138.

—Wake Forest is 18-17 all-time as a ranked team and 14-10 as a ranked team against unranked opponents. This will be the Demon Deacons’ first game while ranked in the AP Top 25 since a 26-0 loss at Maryland on Oct. 18, 2008.

—Louisville hasn’t won back-to-back league games since defeating Virginia and Syracuse in consecutive weeks in November of 2017.

—Wake Forest’s offense ranks first in the ACC and fifth nationally in third down success while the defense ranks first in the ACC and ninth in the country in limiting third down success at 25.7 percent.

—Wake Forest plays at one of the fastest paces in the country and enters Saturday ranked second in the FBS in offensive plays per game (82).

—Wake Forest placekicker Nick Sciba is a perfect 6-for-6 on field goals and 22-of-22 on extra points. He leads the team in scoring with 40 points.

—Javian Hawkins is the third freshman in Louisville history to have three 100-yard rushing games in the first five games of a season. He joins Victor Anderson (2008) and Lamar Jackson (2015). He is the first running back with three 100-yard games in a season since Brandon Radcliff in 2016.

—A win would make Wake Forest bowl eligible at the earliest date (Oct. 12) in program history.

—In seven seasons as a head coach, Scott Satterfield owns a 36-7 record in conference play.

—Satterfield’s teams have won 15 of their last 17 games in the month of October.

—Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman ranks fourth in the country in total offense with an average of 356.6 yards per game.

—Wake Forest enters Saturday as one of 15 undefeated teams remaining in the FBS.

—This marks the first of three consecutive games Louisville will play against top 25 opponents.

—Louisville is 9-12 all-time in ACC road games, and hasn’t won a conference game away from home since beating Florida State on Oct. 21, 2017.

—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 242 games dating back to a 31-0 loss to Florida State during the 2000 season. The streak ranks as the third longest in the ACC behind only Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.

—Louisville is 186-13 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 5-113 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.

Quotable:

—”This is not the Louisville team that we’ve beaten the last two years. This is a different team that’s playing at a different level, and there’s confidence and there’s buy-in and just watch the film.” —Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson

—“They are one of the best passing teams out there in the country and a lot of it is tightening up the coverage, because if you if you play off of these guys, they’re going to make you pay. They’ll just throw the underneath all day long, and they’ll go right down the field, but then they’re also capable of running the football.” —Scott Satterfield

—“These guys play hard, and you can see it. You could see on the field when we were playing them the last two years, they just fought each other, they got mad … But this year it’s completely different. These guys are bought in, they have leaders on their team, the coaching staff has them ready each week. And you saw them play against Boston College; they played really well. It’s going to be a really good challenge for us, especially off our bye week, we have to get up.” —Wake Forest TE Jack Freudenthal

—“When we say expectations, we expected to beat Notre Dame. That’s just our mentality. To me, that’s just a daily expectation of competing every single day. You’re competing every single day, really against yourself. I need to do better today as an individual, and when we do that, we’ll be better as a team. Again, we don’t really focus on the big picture. We stay right in the moment, and I think when you do that, you just do the best you can do today. And that’ll be good enough.” —Scott Satterfield

—“I tell the young guys, ‘Don’t pay any attention to the rankings. They don’t matter. The thing we have to do is keep a sense of urgency — every day. I really think this team is different. This group loves football more than the teams I’ve played on in the past. I think that’s going to make a difference.” —Wake Forest OL Justin Herron

—“It’s so much different. I think all the hype was around Louisville (in 2017) and it’s almost a little, like, flipped right now. Some hype is around us. But as soon as you buy into all that hype, whether you’re the opposing team or us, it’s going to tank eventually. Because you’re not going to be doing the same things you’ve been doing to get to this point.” —Wake Forest OL Nate Gilliam

Card Chronicle Prediction: Wake Forest 31, Louisville 27

Cheers to being wrong.

Co Cards.