LOUISVILLE HAS TO GET THE PASSING GAME GOING
Louisville finished the Wake Forest game with a solid showing on offense with Tiyon Evans breaking 100 yards and Malik Cunningham scoring two touchdowns. The running game was as expected but the offense needs to find better balance.
Malik Cunningham had one of his best games of the season last weekend hitting receivers on intermediate routes all day and making throws against tight coverage. He put the ball in good spots for his receivers and he was timely with his throws. They just need to do more here. There’s still too much inconsistency with the passing game and they have to manufacture more chunk throws now that it’s obvious that the deep ball isn’t there.
JAMES MADISON WILL BE MUCH HARDER TO DEFEND THAN OTHER OPPONENTS
Louisivlle has faced some good offenses this year, but I think JMU provides some real challenges for the defense. Todd Centeio appears to be ready to play this weekend and he is a dual threat in a way that Louisville hasn’t seen this year because JMU will run option plays with him and spread the field. He is also a better passer than he is a runner, so it is very hard to take away a strength of his.
Louisville has been aggressive up front all season but they haven’t seen a team really use RPOs like JMU does. They haven’t really faced read option all that much. JMU can also spread the field and just run their quarterback in a way Centeio does. Can they stop their running game and make them one dimensional?
LOUISVILLE WILL RUN FOR 200+ YARDS
We’re continuing the trend of predicting Louisville to do something that doesn’t really make sense, because winning streaks are fun. James Madison has the best run defense in the country from a statistical standpoint and they have shut down a few solid running games this year. The Appalacian State game stands out to me because they were down by 20+ points and they didn’t allow App to bleed the clock with their good running attack.
However, Khalan Laborn, who is the 7th ranked rusher in the country went off last week for 151 yards and 5 yards per carry. That’s more than a third of the total amount of rushing yards JMU have given up this year and I tend to think that their team is wearing down a bit. They’ve had some injuries recently and I think they just don’t have enough depth to keep up with the FBS schedule in year one.
JMU WILL TRY TO USE KRIS THORNTON LIKE BOSTON COLLEGE USES ZAY FLOWERS
While I wholeheartedly believe that JMU is a good enough team to match up with Louisville, they will obviously look for things that UofL has struggled with this season to get an edge. One of the things that had killed Louisville is big plays on defense and deep routes have been the big issue in the pass game. Johnny Wilson had a big play for FSU on a deep post but Zay Flowers had a field day against single coverage and I think JMU will look to use Kris Thornton in the same way.
Thornton is 5-8ish and he is very quick. I don’t know that he has the afterburners that Flowers does but it won’t matter if he’s able to run away from people on his routes. My real concern is that he can make people miss after the catch. The Cards have been mixing up coverages and trying (and succeeding) in stopping big plays but I do have some worries that they will have to adjust if they can’t stop the run and Thornton could become a problem for them.