THIRD DOWNS WILL BE A MAJOR FACTOR IN THE GAME
Bryan Brown has stressed the importance of stopping the run this year so that he can put the offense in third and long situations. While that’s typically a very important aspect of any game, it may not matter this weekend if Louisville doesn’t do a good job in coverage and getting after the Quarterback. Phil Jurkovec is completing 66% of his passes on 3rd and 7-9 yards this season. That’s really good and it leads me to believe that he can make the plays needed against man or zone. Jurkovec is also completing 65.7 % of his passes on 3rd and 10+. He’s killing it in obvious passing situations and Louisville has to find a way to make him uncomfortable.
The Louisville offense showed some new wrinkles last week when we saw slant routes throughout the game to guys like Jordan Watkins and Josh Johnson. They absolutely have to utilized those types of short passes again this week. BC has two very good Inside Linebackers but they like to bring those guys on blitzes. The middle of the field should be open and Louisville needs to be able to convert third downs to keep drives going.
LOUISVILLE HAS TO SHUT DOWN BOSTON COLLEGE’S RUN GAME
I don’t want to say that Boston College can’t run the ball but they’re 117th in yards per carry and it’s hard not to blame the change in coaching. David Bailey is back this year with four returning starters on the offensive line. That has somehow not translated into success running the ball. Bailey and Travis Levy are only getting a combined 23 carries per game this year, which is fewer carries than AJ Dillon averaged on his own last year. The philosophy has changed and it’s turned this offense into one that has to throw the ball to score points.
Louisville has to keep the BC offense from running the ball so that they can create more opportunities to get big plays on defense. They also need to force this offense to be one-dimensional. BC has been at their best when they can get their running game going and force defenses to respect it. Louisville could do what defenses have done to them this year and look to keep everything in front of them. That would be big as the Eagles have a big play machine in Zay Flowers.
HUNTER LONG WILL HAVE A BIG DAY FOR BC
Louisville will be facing off against one of the best Tight Ends in the country this weekend and I don’t know that they can come up with a plan to stop him. Hunter Long leads all Tight Ends in catches and yards, nationally. He not only makes a lot of plays but BC relies on him to be the top target for Phil Jurkovec.
The Cards don’t cover very well when it comes to the middle of the field or on underneath routes. Hunter Long is very good in the middle of the field and on underneath routes. One choice that this offense forces you to make is if you want to cover Long with a Safety or hope your Linebackers can keep up. If you utilize a Safety, you potentially open yourself up to deep routes by the other receivers. So, if UofL decides to use Russ Yeast or Isaiah Hayes to cover Long, the corners will be left on their own a lot.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Louisville look to use Rodjay Burns in coverage more this week and take their chances against the run. On third downs, they’ve been using an extra Defensive Back pretty regularly. Louisville might not have to adjust much but I still don’t think they have the guys to stop a guy like Long.
LOUISVILLE MUST CONTROL THE CLOCK
UofL held the ball for about 42 minutes last week against Syracuse and they ended up with a dominant shutout win. They need to look to repeat what they were able to do last week, this week. Louisville ran the ball pretty well but the short passing game was really key when it comes to extending drives and controlling time of possession.
The quick game also helps simplify things for Malik Cunningham. He has been looking for the big play all season and it’s just not there like it was last year. Louisville has a few different guys who can take a short pass and turn it into a chunk play or even a big play. Why not look for that as it has a lower risk factor and it helps to keep your offensive drives going.
The other factor here is that BC’s offense can really move the football and they have enough weapons in the passing game that it makes it hard to really stop them. They have the ability to hit the big plays but they really do a good job of “nickel and diming” their way down the field. They don’t have a running game so they get a good amount of short passes going as an extension of the run game. They spread you out and take what you give them. Louisville needs to do the same.