LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (2-2, 0-2) at BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES (1-3, 0-2)
Game Time: Noon
Location: Alumni Stadium: Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Television: ACC Network
Announcers: Chris Cottet (play-by-play), Mark Herzlich (analyst), and Lericia Harris(sidelines)
Favorite: Louisville by 13.5
All-Time Series: Louisville leads, 8-6
Louisville Depth Chart:
Excitement Level: 6.7
You have my attention.
Game Attire: Lamar leap t-shirt
Let’s keep it rolling.
Pregame Meal: Eggs
Once again, it’s all I can eat for breakfast these days and it’s all I’ll be eating before kickoff on Saturday ... and next Saturday.
Bold Prediction: Louisville successfully fakes a punt
It feels like it’s time.
Rance Conner Interception Alert Level: Red Orange (slightly above average)
Watch your back, Phil. Rance is lurking.
Predicted Star of the Game: Yasir Abdullah
Here’s hoping we’re picking someone who’s actually going to play in the game this week. BC’s offensive line has been abysmal so far this season, and this feels like an afternoon where Yasir, YaYa or someone else should be able to feast.
About Boston College:
Boston College has long been known as a physical offensive team with big running backs and NFL offensive linemen. Well, that identity left when Steve Addazio was let go. The BC rushing attack has fallen off since 2019 and the Eagles currently have one of the worst rushing attacks in the country. I think a few things contribute to that but I don’t think for a second that Jeff Hafley will look to move away from trying to establish the run against a Louisville defense that has had some struggles stopping the run.
The key player for any offense is the quarterback and BC has a really good one in Phil Jurkovic. The Notre Dame transfer is healthy this year and all of the traits that have made him an NFL prospect have been on full display. He has the size at 6-5/214 and he can move enough to avoid the rush and extend plays. His big arm is what impresses me the most. He can pump the ball down the field on deep routes but he really puts the ball on a rope on throws to the sideline. He’s one of the most talented quarterbacks UofL will see this year.
However, Jurk has thrown a handful of terrible interceptions this year including his first throw of the Virginia Tech game. He also fumbled the ball on his first snap of the season. There are plenty of reasons for Jurk’s poor play so far but he also just doesn’t look like himself. He’s a very emotional player, and it has sometimes seemed like the frustration has gotten to him. One has to hope that the Cards can cause some havoc and make the plays when they come available to them.
BC is averaging 1.8 yards per carry on the season and Patrick Garwo is barely averaging three yards per attempt himself. Garwo ran for over 1,000 yards last year but a miracle would have to happen for him to get there this season. Garwo is a powerful runner with solid speed and I think he does a good job of seeing the running lanes. They just have not been able to get anything going in the run game so far.
The Eagles have some of the best receivers in the ACC and Zay Flowers is the best of them. Flowers can take over a game at any moment and one of the worst things about BC’s offensive struggles is that they haven’t figured out a way to get him more involved. Flowers is averaging seven catches per game but outside of the Rutgers opener, he hasn’t been able to make any big plays for the offense. No one on this offense scares me as much as Flowers. To me, he’s very similar to Tutu Atwell in the way that he can make plays at any level of the defense and score any time he touches the ball with any space.
The other receivers on the team are very good players and they all have great speed. Jaelen Gill is a former Ohio State receiver who has played a role of a possession guy but he has the speed to get behind a defense. He teams with Jaden Williams to combine to make a great compliment to Flowers as you can’t focus on just one player. Both of these guys can break out in a game. The other player to watch is George Takacs who transferred in from Notre Dame he’s second on the team in catches and he had a big game against Rutgers with 7 catches for 84 yards.
Now let’s get to why this offense is struggling. The offensive line lost all five starters from last season and they are an absolute shell of what this offensive line once was. They can’t open running lanes and they don’t get any push. They also can’t protect Jurk in passing situations which they’re in all the time because they can’t run the ball. It hasn’t mattered if teams have brought pressure or dropped into coverage, this group is unpredictable on any pass play. When they have protected, the passing game has looked good, but they just haven’t been consistent at all and Jurk is being pressured on 44% of his passes. This is the entire game in my opinion. UofL can’t allow this team to figure it out against them.
Jeff Hafley came to Boston College after leading one of the best defenses in the country at Ohio State in 2019. He turned a bad defense into the best in the country and his NFL pedigree made him an obvious choice for a team that needed better recruiting and some ties to the area. Hafley’s defenses have been solid but they have struggled to stop big plays this year while also allowing quarterbacks to operate with little pressure. While they don’t have the struggles the offense has had, the defense isn’t lighting the world on fire, either.
BC has gradually gotten worse up front over the last handful of years and I think this season is really exposing the lack of impact players on the defensive line. The days of having Harold Landry, Zach Allen, and Wyatt Ray to create havoc and make big plays may be over but the Eagles have had a couple of players that show up on the stat sheet from time to time. Donovan Ezeiruaku has essentially matched his stat totals from last season and he was able to force two fumbles against Rutgers. He and Marcus Valdez make up a solid edge combo at the defensive end spots.
The linebacker group for the Eagles is productive but they had a very hard time with Florida State’s speed last weekend. Vinny DePalma is the team’s leading tackler and he is very good at making tackles in the box. He missed a tackle in the FSU game that stood out to me because he had the runner squared up but a simple move left him missing the runner completely. I think that UofL has the guys who can make guys miss but the running backs have also been running very hard and could break a tackle or two if they’re running away from DePalma on these stretch runs.
Kam Arnold is the veteran of the group and he is the most likely to draw the assignment of keeping an eye on Malik Cunningham. I think Arnold is a solid player and he put up 12 tackles against Virginia Tech. He just hasn’t been consistent in his play. Bryce Steele is the starting middle linebacker but the linebacker I’m most interested in is Jaylen Blackwell. The redshirt freshman had a strong start to the season and I think he could see the field more this weekend.
BC has one of the best secondary groups in the ACC and just like the receivers on the other side of the ball, they have been hurt by the lack of plays by other guys around them. That’s not to say that they haven’t had issues in the back end but the lack of a pass rush has made it harder on this group. Elijah Jones is having the best season out of the group with five pass breakups from his corner spot. Josh DeBerry hasn’t been tested much this year but after leading the team in tackles for loss last season, he has become the most touted player out of the secondary.
Jason Matrie is one of my favorite players in the conference. He can do a bit of everything and he has continued to be a strong performer at safety. Jaiden Woodbey is the guy in the back end that I think can make the biggest impact on the game. Per PFF, Woodbey has played 143 snaps in the box while also lining up at free safety, slot, and corner. He is all over the field and he makes a lot of plays for this defense. Does BC use him to spy Malik? Will he line up on Marshon Ford after FSU gashed them in the middle of the field? The former four-star prospect with offers from just about everyone in the country will be a big factor, in my opinion.
—Louisville is 3-4 all-time in games against Boston College at Alumni Stadium, losing its last two.
—Louisville and Boston College are the only two ACC teams that currently sit at 0-2 in conference play.
—Louisville has had at least two sacks in each of the first four games and 11 over the last three contests. The Cards enter Saturday ranked 13th in the country in sacks.
—During Louisville’s win over South Florida last week, Cardinal QB Malik Cunningham became the eighth FBS player in history to pass for 8,000 yards and rush for 3,000 yards in a career.
—Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley is 1-1 in games against Louisville.
—Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield is 2-1 in games against Boston College.
—Over Scott Satterfield’s first four seasons at Louisville, 14 of his 40 games have been decided by one possession or less. The Cardinals are 5-9 in those games.
—Boston College will be welcoming back its 1982 and 1992 teams on Saturday as part of its Family Weekend festivities.
—Louisville’s 30 first downs last week against USF were its most in a game under Scott Satterfield.
—Boston College is first in the ACC in fewest penalties per game (4.0) and fewest penalty yards per game (28.5). The Eagles rank eighth and fifth in the NCAA, respectively.
—Louisville is 33-35 in ACC games since joining the conference in 2014.
—The Cardinals are 12-16 in ACC play under Scott Satterfield.
—Boston College signal caller Phil Jurkovec has thrown 31 touchdowns in 20 games, the most by a BC quarterback in 20 career starts. He ranks fourth in completions (335) and passing yards (4,315) through the first 20 starts in his BC career.
—Jurkovec has been pressured on 44.7% of his dropbacks this season, the highest percentage of any FBS quarterback by a full 3.4 percentage points.
—Louisville is a 13.5-point favorite in this game according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Cardinals are 2-2 against the spread so far this season, and 1-1 straight up as a favorite.
—The Boston College secondary, known as “The Jungle”, ranked third in the country in 2021 with 173.5 passing yards allowed per game.
—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is 15-2 when winning the turnover battle, and just 2-17 when losing it.
—Boston College currently ranks 126th nationally in sacks allowed per game at 3.75, and are 118th in tackles for loss allowed per game at 7.75.
—The Cards have turned the football over six times in its two losses this season and twice in its two victories.
—Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list for the second year in a row. Flowers became the 10th 2,000-yard receiver in BC history with an 11-yard touchdown vs. Rutgers (9/3). He current ranks fifth with 2,309 receiving yards. He is tied for fourth in BC career history with six career 100- yard receiving games.
—The Eagles have been outscored by a 48-3 combined margin in the first half of its two ACC losses against Virginia Tech and Florida State.
—Louisville is 7-0 under Scott Satterfield when scoring 40-49 points, and 3-0 when scoring 50 or more.
—Louisville is 1-9 under Scott Satterfield when being held to 21 points or fewer, with their lone win coming earlier this season in a 20-14 triumph over UCF.
—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 278 games dating back to a 31-0 loss to Florida State during the 2000 season. The streak ranks as the second longest in the ACC behind only Virginia Tech, and the 11th-longest nationally.
—Louisville is 196-14 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 6-121 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.
—“We’re kind of settling in as an offense to see where we’re at. We would like to hit a few more throws down the field, we’ll keep working at it, we’ll keep trying to find ways. Obviously, the bottom line is to move the ball and score points. We just started out early in the season just not doing as well scoring points. The last two weeks, we’ve done a much better job with it.” —Scott Satterfield
—“You have to play with relentless effort against (Malik Cunningham). You have to play with your hair on fire like you never have before. … I think he’s one of the most dynamic players in all of college football.” —Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley
—“They struggle a little bit protection wise, and they’ve given up some pressures there. The issue of protection, I think, is probably one thing that has hurt them the most this year offensively.” —Scott Satterfield
—“We’ve put more pressure on teams this year, which I think is awesome. Trying to kind of knock them off the sticks to create these third and long situations, and the defense does a much better job with that. We got to continue that as well this week. I don’t want to give away our game plan, but I think we just got to do a great job of being able to read our keys and play fast like we did last weekend.” —Bryan Brown
—“On paper, it looks like you should be able to have a bunch of shots, but then there’s risk-reward because there’s a lot of pressure [on the quarterback]. So a lot of times you don’t have the time to push the ball down the field.” —Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley
—“Everyone’s going to have their opinion on what’s going on. At the end of the day, it’s the people in the building that matter. We watch the tape. We know what we’re supposed to do. You have to try to block it out. It’s hard sometimes, but you have to block it out and focus on what the problem is and get it fixed.” —Boston College DL Marcus Valdez
—“I just want (Phil Jurkovec) to be himself and be confident and get [the ball] out quick when it’s there. And if not, then do what you do. That’s something that I think he has done in the past, and even this year better than any quarterback in the country, he keeps plays alive and keeps his eyes downfield. He’s got the ability to run, too, so I think it’s a combination. I just want him to be himself, be confident, and go play football.” —Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley
Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 30, Boston College 20