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Louisville vs. Boston College game preview

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The Cardinals and Eagles square off in a conference meeting both desperately needs to win.

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

LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (2-2, 0-1) vs. BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES (3-2, 1-1)

Game Time: 12:30 p.m.

Location: Cardinal Stadium: Louisville, Ky.

Television: Regional Sports Networks (Fox Sports South in Louisville)

Announcers: Tom Werme, James Bates and Abby Labar

Favorite: Louisville by 5

All-Time Series: Louisville leads, 6-5

Last Meeting: Boston College won 38-20 on Oct. 13, 2018 in Boston

Series History:

Statistics:

Louisville Depth Chart:

Relevant Videos:

Louisville Uniforms:

Game Day Guide:

About Boston College:

Via Keith Wynne

OFFENSE

Louisville comes off of their bye week with a chance to get halfway to bowl eligibility against Boston College. BC is struggling a bit at 3-2 with a blowout loss to Kansas and a loss to Wake Forest that they had a chance to win. The struggles aren’t on the offensive side of the ball where AJ Dillon is leading the ACC in rushing again and Anthony Brown has shown development as a passer. The Eagles have a new offensive coordinator and the early returns show that he’s improved the offense as a whole.

The quarterback position has been a little up and down for BC over the last few years but they’re getting good play from Anthony Brown this year. Brown is healthy and he is finally in an offense that allows him to push the ball down the field. BC has an obvious advantage with play action because of their great running game and they are now using deep passes off of that run game. Brown is averaging 8.1 yards per attempt and his top four pass catchers are all averaging over 13 yards per catch on the year. He has also done a good job protecting the football. He threw two interceptions against Wake last week but those were his first two of the year. Brown is still very inconsistent and doesn’t do well when the offense is playing from behind, but he can make plays if Louisville doesn’t defend well down the field.

AJ Dillon is still doing the ridiculous things he’s been doing since the last time he came to Louisville. Dillon is averaging over 5 yards per carry on the season and a lot of that is after contact. The most impressive thing to me about his game is that he always gets a couple of extra yards when he’s tackled. Obviously, Louisville will have to slow down Dillon for them to be able to win the game. He has the ability to control the clock as well as break off big runs for scores.

The Eagles have done a good job handling Dillon’s workload by mixing in David Bailey a good amount. Bailey ran for 100 yards last year against Louisville when Dillon was out and he’s improved as a sophomore. Bailey has good speed to go with his 240 pound frame. He has the same issue as Dillon when it comes to making guys miss with his feet but he will definitely run through tackles and shrug off arm tackles. BC has also done a good job of working the running backs into the passing game. Having a former NFL guy calling plays has definitely helped there.

BC lost a few key pass catchers from last year but they have diversified a bit with their tight ends to help offset that. Kobay White is back as the top receiver on the team and he has made some very impressive catches already this year. White being able to be a deep threat as well as a reliable possession guy has been great for Brown as a passer. Zay Flowers is the number two receiver and the true freshman has great speed and the ability to make people miss. He’s a comparable player to Tutu Atwell but might be better at making guys miss. Keeping both of them in front of the defense will be key. They have the type of speed that you can kill with off of play action.

Hunter Long leads the team in receiving yards at tight end. He’s been a consistent guy for the offense with a handful of catches in all but one game this year. Jake Burt and Korab Idrizi also have a handful of catches on the year as BC is able to run out a bunch of veteran guys on the edge. These guys know how to block and are always in the right spots in the passing game. They provide this offense with a great ability to nickel and dime the ball down the field.

BC lost a lot from their offensive line last year as they replaced three full time starters. That includes Chris Lindstrom who was drafted in the first round. So far, the line has stepped up and played well. Tyler Vrabel is starting as a redshirt freshman at left tackle and has drawn rave reviews. The line has protected Brown well this year and has avoided a lot of negative plays overall. Louisville will have to find a way to find creases in this blocking scheme to create some negative plays and get this offense into long yardage situations.

DEFENSE

Boston College made coordinator changes on both sides of the ball after last season and the results have been pretty much opposite. The offense is playing well with more throws down the field while the defense has been gashed by just about everyone they’ve played. Steve Addazio made an in-house change by moving his linebackers coach to DC and he now has two coaches that have a lot of NFL experience calling the plays. So far, it looks like that NFL experience hasn’t helped the defense much.

BC lost a lot of experience and production up front and it has shown so far. The Eagles only have five sacks on the season and only two have come from defensive linemen. They’ve gotten a lot of tackles for loss on the year but more than half of them were against Richmond and a Virginia Tech team that seems to be quite bad now. This is where UofL has to take advantage of things. If they can gain yardage in the run game and avoid sacks, they should be able to open up their passing game. When your defensive line isn’t making plays, you have to bring your linebackers up and likely a safety. That aggression opens you up for play action passes and UofL has some sort of play action built into almost every pass play.

The best group on this defense is the linebackers. Max Richardson and Jon Lamont are veteran guys who have developed into really nice play makers. Richardson leads the team in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks. Louisville had some issues blocking FSU’s linebackers last week but it seemed like Kansas had some success with some zone blocks a couple of weeks ago. Richardson and Lamont were held in check in that game so maybe the staff can take some things from that Kansas game plan. That’s so weird to type, but Kansas ran for 329 yards against them and opened up a bunch of easy passing lanes for their quarterback.

To put it bluntly, BC’s pass defense has been terrible so far this year. The lack of a pass rush is obviously a huge part of that, but it’s obvious that they have real issues covering people when you watch their games. Brandon Sebastian is a bright spot out of the group. Sebastian is a tall and long corner at 6-1/190. He got some experience last year and it seems to have helped him this year. He has made a few plays on the ball that took some real confidence to make. Opposite Sebastian is Tate Hayes who is a converted quarterback and first time starter. Hayes has struggled to say the least. He’s the guy that Louisville could target.

This secondary will pick off any throw that is off the mark. BC as a program is extremely impressive when it comes to interceptions and even this group that is playing subpar football has picked off eight passes already. Mike Palmer leads the team with two picks and he kind of epitomizes the group as a whole. Palmer was on the bad side of a “Top Play” a few weeks ago when Rutgers’ running back shook him in the open field on his way to a 70 yard touchdown catch. Palmer tends to be around the ball a lot but he’s been picked on a good amount this year in pass coverage. I expect BC to load the box and leave their secondary exposed a bit. Palmer won’t likely be able to handle Tutu Atwell on his own. Louisville has to take advantage if they can get that matchup.

Excitement Level: 7.4

It’s beyond time to watch Louisville win an ACC football game again.

Game Attire: Grey old school Cardinal bird shirt, red and white Louisville Cardinals hat

Still unbeaten in t-shirts this season. No choice but to make the move back.

Pregame Meal: Media breakfast food

We’re doing the pregame show in the press box so I will be making some runs to the buffet.

Bold Prediction: A single Cardinal rushes for at least three touchdowns

The dream of a perfect bold prediction season died in Tallahassee, but we’re swinging big and getting back on track this week.

Ty Tyler Sack Alert Level: Pine Green (low to very low)

We’re gonna get there

Predicted Star of the Game: Hassan Hall

He spearheaded a large chunk of the comeback against FSU, and he’s carrying that positive mojo into week five.

Notable:

—Louisville enters Saturday having lost nine consecutive conference games. A loss to Boston College would give U of L the first 10-game conference losing streak in program history.

—Louisville will be wearing white and black Muhammad Ali-themed uniforms for Saturday’s game.

—Boston College ranks third in the conference and 26th nationally with 473.2 yards of total offense per game. BC’s rushing attack leads the ACC and ranks 13th nationally with 252.0 yards per game.

—In 22 career starts, Boston College RB AJ Dillon has 15 career 100-yard games. His career-high came two seasons ago at Cardinal Stadium when he rushed for 272 yards.

—Through four games, Louisville has the same number of recorded sacks (11) it had all of last season.

—Louisville is 3-2 all-time in home games against Boston College.

—Boston College has never won three consecutive games over Louisville.

—Saturday’s game features a matchup of the top two rushing offenses in the ACC. BC is first in the conference while Louisville ranks second in the ACC with 225.3 rushing yards per game.

—BC is fifth nationally with 391 plays run on offense in 2019 and the Eagles rank 13th in the country with 120 first downs.

—BC ranks third nationally with eight interceptions, highlighting a plus-7 turnover ratio that has the Eagles tied for 11th at 1.40 per game. Conversely, Louisville is minus-4 and has yet to intercept a pass. The Cards are one of just two FBS teams still without an interception.

—Louisville is 2-3 all-time in ACC home openers.

—In seven seasons as a head coach, Scott Satterfield owns a 35-7 record in conference play.

—Satterfield’s teams have won 14 of their last 16 games in the month of October.

—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 241 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 185-13 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:

—“Their staff has done a fabulous job with their team fundamentally, with their team discipline. I think they’re playing fast. I think they’re playing aggressive. They have quality players all over the field. They have great athleticism and great speed. I’m very, very impressed with them.” —Boston College head coach Steve Addazio

—“This’ll be a big test. We’ll see where we stack up this week. I think we’ve done a pretty good job thus far. Akers at Florida State is a really talented running back, although a little bit different style than we’ll see this week. He had some pretty big runs against us.” —Scott Satterfield

—“Oh, we’re definitely going to have to tackle. We have to have good discipline to come in the box and make tackles on this big running back.” —Louisville CB Anthony Johnson

—“There was never a lack of talent there. That wasn’t the case. So they’re playing really well (now). The back end (is) extremely athletic, great space tacklers. I’m very, very impressed with this football team, and they’re only going to get better. They had a bye last week. I anticipate they’re only going to improve.” —Boston College head coach Steve Addazio

—“So, looking ahead, Boston College this week, you sit back and for us, we get to watch some football as well and as you know, obviously want to games you look at but we know they’re going to be a very physical football team coached well kids play very hard and we’re maybe the top rushing team in the conference coming in and so we kind of know what we’re going to get from them. The quarterbacks have been playing good as well. So they put a lot of pressure on defenses.” —Scott Satterfield

Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 31, Boston College 30

Let’s get this one.

Go Cards.