LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (5-3, 3-2) At MIAMI HURRICANES (5-4, 3-3)
Game Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: Hard Rock Stadium: Miami, Fla.
Announcers: Mark Jones, Dusty Dvoracek, Olivia Dekker
Favorite: Miami by 6.5
All-Time Series: Miami leads, 9-3-1
Last Meeting: Louisville won 31-13 on Sept. 1, 2014 at Cardinal Stadium
Louisville Depth Chart:
Manny Diaz took over as the Miami head coach after the 2018 season and promptly fired the entire offensive staff. Diaz then brought in Dan Enos to lead an offense that was more pass heavy. The results have shown a minimal improvement from a statistical standpoint. Enos has been a coordinator in the past but I would imagine that Diaz expected his offense to look more like Alabama’s offense last year than what we’ve seen so far.
Miami has played two quarterbacks this year but Jarren Williams appears to have won his starting job back after a strong performance against FSU last week. Williams has one of the highest completion percentages in the country but last week he showed that he could stretch the field with his arm. He will be a big focal point in this game as he has had some issues with fumbles as well as some interceptions and near interceptions. I don’t think we will see N’kosi Perry in this game but if we do, I’d imagine Louisville will have the lead.
Dan Enos has one thing going for him which is a running back group that has shown some nice flashes. I describe it as “flashes” because Enos refuses to run the ball even when they have success. Miami’s running backs aren’t even getting 20 carries per game this year. DeeJay Dallas is averaging 6 yards per carry but he doesn’t get a lot of touches in games. Dallas is a big play guy who hajs three runs of 50+ yards this year but he has the size to get the tough yards, too. He splits his carries with Cam’Ron Harris who is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Louisville has to make sure that Miami doesn’t get their running game going. Miami has the worst third down offense in the country because they set themselves up in long yardage situations.
The Canes have one of the most talented group of receivers in the country but they haven’t been able to break free this year. Miami has very real issues on the offensive line and it makes it hard for them to push the ball down the field. Brevin Jordan has become the best option in the passing game. Jordan is a big tight end with great athleticism. They will split him out in the slot as well as lining him up on the line. He can make plays from either spot and the offense does a good job working him into the offense. Louisville hasn’t defended tight ends all too well over the season but they have been much better over the last few weeks.
K.J. Obsorn, Jeff Thomas, and Mike Harley make up a very fast and quick group of receivers. Osborn is a grad transfer from Buffalo who can do a bit of everything. He’s the reliable outside guy in this offense but he can make people miss in the open field if given the opportunity. Thomas is the burner of the group. When you think of the Florida schools you always think of these freaky fast guys that just seem to be moving much faster than everyone else. That’s what Thomas is, to me. Louisville has to keep him contained. Harley is the slot guy that is most dangerous after the catch. This group has been held in check for the most part this year but FSU got beat a lot last week. Louisville can’t allow that to happen.
If you’re wondering how an offense with a quarterback that completes a bunch of passes and running backs with solid production can be so average, look to the offensive line. Miami’s is very bad and it makes the entire offense much worse than it should be. Miami starts two true freshmen on the line. Zion Nelson starts at left tackle. He was one of the players that was committed to App State before the staff came to Louisville. Jakai Clarke was a fairly lowly rated center prospect that had a handful of big offers. Both have shown their youth this year. Miami is the fourth worst team in the country when it comes to sacks allowed. They’re not much better at tackles for loss allowed. This is the area where Louisville has a clear advantage.
Miami flipped things around when they hired Manny Diaz as their head coach. Mark Richt is an offensive coach who had relied on very good defenses over the final stretch of his career. With Diaz, they were going with a guy who ran some of those defenses and performed his duties well. Miami has been known for their ability to create turnovers and make other big plays but that’s been lacking a bit this season. Without much help from the offense, the defense hasn’t been able to be as consistently dominant as expected.
Louisville has faced a few very good defensive lines this year and Miami will just make the list longer. Gregory Rousseau is the best defensive end they will face this year. He is second in the country in sacks with 12 and he has 7 over the last two weeks. Rousseau is a massive redshirt freshman who is listed at 6-6/260 but he can run and bend very well. Louisville will have to stay out of obvious passing situations so that they can avoid him coming off the edge.
The Canes will rotate a bunch of other guys up front but the two to watch are Trevon Hill at defensive end and Pat Bethel inside. Hill is a transfer from Virginia Tech that plays well as a pass rusher and edge defender. Bethel is a pretty mobile defensive tackle. This line does a good job of keeping the linebackers clean. Louisville has faced this issue before, so they have to make sure they don’t have a letdown when it comes to run blocking.
The Miami defense is led by the linebacker group again. Shaq Quarterman is the man in the middle for the fourth straight year while Michael Pickney lines up next to him. Both of these guys are very good players and they literally couldn’t be more experienced. Quarterman has shown some impressive speed this year as he’s been responsible for covering running backs a lot in the games that I have watched. Both players have combined to make 18 tackles behind the line of scrimmage which is a problem area for Louisville’s offense. Their experience makes me wonder if they will bite on the play action and misdirection things that Louisville likes to do but this defense is very aggressive and they want to get after it from the snap. Louisville has to find a way to move these guys out of position.
Diaz has lived off of great secondary play over the last few seasons and this season is going pretty well, also. Miami hasn’t picked off as many passes as usual but they’re making it very hard on opposing quarterbacks and receivers. Trajan Bandy and D.J. Ivey man the outside corner spots and you’re not going to find too many corners that are more confident than these two. Ivey leads the team with two interceptions while Bandy leads them in PBUs. This isn’t a weak spot for this team by any measure but I do think they can be challenged by Louisville’s wide receivers. Bandy is excellent in short coverage but I don’t think he gets tested enough down the field. I would love to see Louisville go after him there as well as testing Ivey and Al Blades Jr. when he’s on the field.
Miami is solid at safety with Gurvan Hall and Amari Carter. Hall is one of the best players on the team and they use him in a lot of ways. He will blitz from the secondary and off the edge as well as just playing in the box as an extra linebacker. Hall is a good player in space, also. He is a complete safety that has to be accounted for. Carter rotates with Robert Knowles and both players are solid guys who can do everything at a solid level. They aren’t big playmakers but they don’t hurt the defense in any way. Louisville should have another opportunity to target the safeties if they can get the running game going. Manny Diaz won’t allow for his team to be run on without adding a guy to the box. That leaves these guys to cover Louisville’s inside receivers. I don’t know that they can handle that.
Excitement Level: 8.6
Most excited I’ve been all year. There’s no longer any doubt about our ability to be competitive in a game like this, Miami’s still a brand name opponent, and if we win, those lofty dreams we’ve been tap-dancing around for the last couple of weeks suddenly become very real.
Game Attire: Red long-sleeve Louisville Cardinals shirt, grey U of L sweatpants
I’m on baby duty after the pregame show on 790, so it’s gonna be a relaxed look. The good news is the Cards have yet to lose a game of any sort that the baby and I have watched at CC Headquarters together.
Pregame Meal: Coffee, jalapeno cheese bagel
Added some spice this week.
Bold Prediction: Evan Conley finishes with more passing yards than Micale Cunningham
After what we saw last week, this might be the boldest prediction of the season.
Ty Tyler Sack Alert Level: Cherry (better than it should be)
Against Virginia, Tyler played but didn’t record a stat for the second straight week. Still, the alert level has a glimmer of hope.
Predicted Star of the Game: Monty Montgomery
I fully expect Javian Hawkins to have another solid game, but let’s flip it over to the defensive side and go with a wild card this week. Miami’s offensive line is vulnerable, and Montgomery is a speedy linebacker with a knack for making big plays.
—A win Saturday would make Louisville bowl eligible for the 18th time in the last 22 years. A year ago, the Cardinals saw their streak of eight consecutive seasons with a bowl appearance snapped. Miami is also playing for bowl eligibility for the seventh consecutive season.
—Louisville is 0-5-1 all-time in games against the Hurricanes played in Miami. The Cards played Miami to a 13-13 tie on the road back in 1950. They defeated the Hurricanes 36-9 in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl, which was played in Orlando.
—Saturday’s game will serve as Miami’s Homecoming game for 2019.
—Louisville has 19 players on their roster from Florida, including six from Miami. Linebacker Yasir Abdullah, wide receivers Tutu Atwell and Tyler Harrell, linebacker Robert Hicks, and defensive backs Chandler Jones and Trennell Troutman.
—Miami has held opponents to 290.1 yards per game, which ranks 14th in the FBS.
—Miami QB Jarren Williams ranks second in the ACC and No. 21 in all of FBS with a 66.9 completion percentage this season.
—Louisville is ranked 22nd in the nation in rushing yards per game (218.1). Individually, Javian Hawkins is 13th nationally with his nearly 111 yards a game.
—Javian Hawkins is 113 yards shy of being the first Louisville running back to gain 1,000 yards in a season since Bilal Powell in 2010.
—Miami ranks No. 14 in FBS in total defense, surrendering an average of 290.1 yards per game - one of only 15 units in FBS allowing fewer than 300 total yards per game.
—Miami brings the 12th-ranked rushing defense into Saturday’s game, yielding an average of just 97.8 yards per contest. The Hurricanes have only allowed three teams to rush for over 100 yards this season.
—Miami enters Saturday ranked second in the ACC allowing just 19.4 points per game. The Hurricanes have held four opponents to 12 points or less and have notched one shutout.
—Louisville is 2-3 straight up and 3-2 against the spread as an underdog this season
—Louisville enters Saturday ranked sixth nationally in passing yards per completion (16.7).
—Miami’s Greg Rousseau is tied for second in the FBS in sacks with 12.0.
—In seven seasons as a head coach, Scott Satterfield owns a 38-8 record in conference play.
—Satterfield is 19-5 during the month of November as a head coach. His teams have six straight games in the month.
—Louisville is 4-0 this season when winning the turnover battle, and 1-3 when losing it.
—Since joining the ACC in 2014, Louisville 7-4 against Coastal Division opponents.
—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 245 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, and the 14th-longest nationally.
—Louisville is 187-13 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 6-114 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.
—“We feel like we are improving. The players are starting to gain some confidence, and we’re going to need it because this Saturday we play a very dangerous Louisville football team who had a week off to think about nothing but the Miami Hurricanes.” —Miami head coach Manny Diaz
—“We played some good defenses this year as we go back and look throughout the season, but they’re right up there with some of the best. They cause havoc in the backfield so they disrupt the running game with the penetration up front as well, obviously, as the passing game because you hold the ball, you’re [going] to get sacked. I mean, 100 percent, you can’t hold the ball.” —Scott Satterfield
—“They’re probably the best offense we’ve seen.” —Miami S Romeo Finley
—“With the game being Homecoming, with the game being Senior Day, it’s just amazing to think that some of these guys will be playing their last game at Hard Rock Stadium. We hope to have a great crowd, we need to have a great crowd to make it as hard on Louisville as possible and to get around our fans and really cheer on this team that is starting to hit its stride in the month of November.” —Miami head coach Manny Diaz
—“It’s going to be amazing. I think all of the seniors here are really, really excited for coming out one last time. We’re expecting out fans to be there. We were so appreciative that they came for FSU. It was my first time there, so seeing all those fans really travel all that way meant a lot to us. Hopefully we get a big outcome and a big fan base at Hard Rock this week because we need them.” —Miami RB Jimmy Murphy
—“Having been here all four years with Diaz and getting to close it out at the Rock with my brothers one last time, I’m looking forward to it.” —Miami DT Pat Bethel
—“We don’t talk about it because it really doesn’t matter. Everybody knows we are at five wins and you guys get another one we are going bowling. We all applaud that, and we all want that, but we must focus everything on Miami. We don’t focus on the bowl and then not win another game.” —Scott Satterfield
—“We just gotta keep it rolling. Those older guys, the leadership, just everything they’ve done for us and the program. This is these guys’ last game at Hard Rock, so it’s emotional for them and for all of us really because we love our seniors. We’re going to give everything we’ve got. Not just for those guys, but for everybody.’’ —Miami QB Jarren Williams
—“We know we’ve got four really good teams that we’ve got to play in the month of November, and we’re excited about that. We talk about how we’re going to finish, what we’re going to be remembered for this year, and it starts with Miami.” —Scott Satterfield
Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 27, Miami 23
Hold onto your butts.