The day has arrived. One of the biggest home games in recent memory is upon us. The Cards are 7-0, ranked 16th in the country, but face a tough test as a very formidable Cincinnati team comes into Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The Oven should be rocking. Here are this week’s five keys to victory.
Stop the run
The Bearcats are averaging 225.7 yards per game on the ground. If they hit that mark tonight, the Cards will get beat. Louisville must keep the UC run game in check, which is must easier said than done. The Bearcats will give UofL a heavy dose of the read option and it will be paramount for Louisville to remain gap disciplined and fundamentally sound. I’m not sure they can keep UC under 100 yards, but if they minimize the impact of the Cincinnati run game, the Cards will be in good position to win.
Play up tempo
This may be more in the wishful thinking vein, but UofL is strait beastly when they run a no-huddle. The problem is they don’t do it very often. I think tonight would be the perfect night to break it out for extended stretches. Get the UC defense on their heels, make them have to line-up quickly, without a lot of time to make adjustments or substitutions. Teddy Bridgewater has been deadly when the UofL offense goes fast, why not do it tonight?
Keep Munchie in the pocket
The biggest difference between Teddy Bridgewater and Bearcat quarterback Munchie Lagaux is Teddy is a much more accomplished, polished passer than Munchie. Teddy can sit back in the pocket, survey the defense, and pick them apart. Lagaux is a fine player and tremendous athlete, but he only completes 53% of his passes. I would much prefer take my chances with him having to beat me throwing the ball from the pocket as opposed to allowing him to escape the pocket and make plays on the run, which he is very good at.
Win the turnover battle
This is true of any big game against a quality opponent. You simply cannot turn the ball over against a good team and expect to win. Tipped pass interceptions, redzone fumbles, and special teams turnovers are killers, particularly in high profile games due to the momentum swings that occur. Louisville cannot turn the football over and win this game.
Pedal to the metal
We’ve all seen it. It’s happened since year 1 of Charlie’s arrival. Louisville gets a lead of 10-14 points and then all of a sudden, the intensity level drops, the playcalling becomes vanilla, and the other team gets back into the game. That cannot happen tonight. If UofL finds itself in position to put their foot on UC’s throat (figuratively speaking of course), they need to do it.
If the Cards are up double-digits, keep throwing the ball. Remain aggressive in the playcalling. Keep attacking defensively. Cincinnati is capable of scoring points in bunches and a lead of two touchdowns is not safe. This is no game to become conservative with a lead. Keep the pedal to the metal and put the game on ice if you have the chance.
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