When UC Has The Football
Racking up points and yards against the UL defense hasn't been much of a challenge this year, and the Bearcats should have plenty of chances to put points on the board. I don't see many negatives here, but there are a few areas that worry me a little.
Ben Mauk and the offense have been slow starters more often than not so far on the season. Coupled with that is a concern about much cooler temperatures at kickoff and how that will affect his surgically repaired throwing arm. In each of the last two games it looked like it took him some time to get warmed up and it created some lost possessions early. I feel it's imperative to start fast in this one in order to force Brohm and company into catch up mode right out of the gate. In the Cards three losses they have given up a combined 67 first half points.
The UL secondary has been much maligned this year, but I feel their defensive ling deserves just as much blame. They have amassed only 9 sacks on the year and they are getting little to no pressure up the middle or on the edge. This leaves a young backfield covering all day, and it's a big reason they have only recorded 4 interceptions. If the Cats stay patient and wait for routes to develop, it's going to be a big day.
When UC goes to the quick snap no huddle there will be huge running lanes to exploit. The Cardinals have plenty of talent, but they do not have enough experience in the scheme to instinctively know where to line up and what to run.
All in all if UC protects the ball and keeps the penalty numbers down it should be a big day for the Cats offense.
When UL Has The Football
Leading up to the Utah game last Friday it was believed that Heisman candidate Brian Brohm would have big play WRs Harry Douglas and Mario Urrutia at his disposal. Neither played and the UL offense sputtered more than usual on the way to their third loss. All reports lead us to believe they will be back in action this week, but they are still listed as game time decisions.
Because of the large early deficits the Cards have been force to go away from Anthony Allen and what should be a potent ground attack. As we know by now, running the ball against the Cats is more often than not a futile task, and there is no reason to think this game will be any different. The real test will be in the red zone. UL is going to move the ball, but holding them to 3 will be much easier if they stop Allen.
With Allen taken out of the game plan, Brohm is going to be in the pocket throwing the ball all over the field all night. The key to throwing him off his game has always been to pressure him up the middle. He has a great pocket presence, but he is not very mobile in the pocket. He likes to feel the edge rush, step up in the pocket as he makes his reads and deliver the ball on time to an open receiver. If Byrd, Hoppel, Manalac, Revels and Nakamura get him out of that comfort zone it is much easier to slow down the high octane attack that is averaging over 400 passing yards a game.
While I think most aspects of the game favor UC, I don't see the Cats being able to put the game away easily. While the defense has been dominated, the three losses are still only by a combined 18 points. Brohm can keep his team in the game single handedly, and I don't think this one will be any different. I expect UC to put some cushion between them in the 3rd quarter, but Louisville will climb back in to it before falling just short in the end. The Keg Of Nail is coming home!
Prediction: UC 38 UL 32