LOUISVILLE’S DEFENSE HAS TO STOP ALLOWING CHUNK PLAYS
Bryan Brown’s defense is currently ranked 121st in the country in 20+ yard plays given up. They are 28th in 30+ yard plays given up. The latter number is tied for the 3rd fewest in the country. Louisville has the most mercurial defense in the country and they are volatile against the run and the pass.
Wake Forest doesn’t have better athletes than the other teams Louisville has played this year but they do scheme their guys open about as well as any of them. Wake Forest will utilize RPOs to pull UofL’s linebackers forward and give their receivers open space in the middle of the field. They will also utilize their long mesh point to carve out running lanes for their backs. Brown has to find a way to minimize the chunk plays this week because they can turn into big plays very easily.
WAKE WILL HAVE THE BEST CROWD THEY’VE HAD IN A GOOD WHILE
Two years ago, Louisville faced off against Wake in Winston-Salem against a ranked team that had a lot of exciting players. Wake doesn’t have a lot of star power this year but they do have a program that has grown to expect good results on the field. Dave Clawson has built a program that expects bowl wins each year. Not just bowl games.
I think that the Demon Deacons will have a strong crowd on hand that will be plenty excited to support their team and be loud when the time calls for it. One has to wonder how Louisville’s young team will handle loud crowds this year. A substantial amount of players have never played in front of a big crowd outside of the home crowd for the UCF game. While I don’t think Wake will be crazy like a Clemson game, they will play a role in the big moments.
WAKE FOREST WILL TEST LOUISVILLE’S NEWFOUND ABILITY TO AVOID TURNOVERS
Louisville is positive in turnover margin for the first time since maybe 2017. While that’s been aided by the defense forcing a handful of turnovers this season it has been really good to see the offense protect the ball better this season. The turnovers in the Ole Miss game were both bad but a mental error by a freshman and pretty flukey tipped interception were frustrating but a little more understandable.
Overall, the team has done a much better job of avoiding throws into coverage or throws while under duress. The backs and receivers have done much better at holding onto the ball even when defenders have tried to strip the ball away. But Wake has been excellent at forcing turnovers this year with a mix of fumbles and interceptions.
Louisville will have to avoid allowing pressure on Malik Cunningham to turn into strip sacks or forced passes into coverage. Malik also has to be smart about the throws he makes as Wake will use their corners to drop into passing lanes that look open based on the coverages they show. He can’t get caught seeing an open corner route or out route only to throw it straight to one of Wake’s very good corners.
UOFL MUST AVOID NEGATIVE PLAYS
Louisville has really settled in on offense since the Ole Miss game and one of the biggest factors is the lack of negative plays on offense. The Cards have allowed just 12 tackles for loss since week one which has allowed their offense to stay on schedule much more often than we’ve seen over the last two seasons.
Wake Forest is a pressure defense that lives on causing havoc and forcing negative plays. They will blitz a lot but they will also try to shoot gaps with their front in hopes to get a tackle for loss and get you into long-yardage situations. Lousiville has done a really good job of at least getting their blocks in the run game even if the play doesn’t go for much yardage. They have also protected Malik well while Malik has improved at getting rid of the ball when no one is open. To me, this will be a huge key in this game.
WAKE FOREST WILL GO FAST AND WILL NOT SUBSTITUTE
One of the best things Bryan Brown and his defensive staff have done this year is substituting one Defensive Linemen at a time any time the offense substitutes. It’s a really smart move to utilize the rules of the game to slow down the offenses they’ve faced this year. UCF never adjusted and they ran about 20 fewer plays than they normally do. Florida State tried to go fast a few times as well and Brown’s substitution plan worked to slow them down.
Wake Forest won’t likely fall into the same trap UCF and FSU did. Wake runs three-wide with a Tight End and one back a lot. They don’t really make changes because they want to go fast and that personnel allows them to do all of the things they want to do on offense. They can run their slow mesh run play that they utilize and they can also do all of their RPO stuff while using outside receivers and slot guys. They also like to sneak their Tight End out in the middle of the field because they get forgotten a lot by the defense. I would expect Brown to have a base defense he goes with and he will likely stick with it.
- Sam Hartman started a game against Bobby Petrino and is still a sophomore.
- Louisville will have to do something on offense to counter Wake’s aggression up front. Misdirection, trick plays, and motion should be a part of the game plan.
- Nick Sciba has made 90% of his 71 career field goal attempts.
- Wake’s worst offensive performances last season were against Clemson, NC State, and Louisville.
- Ahmari Huggins-Bruce will likely get more playing time this week with Braden Smith out.