Know your Opponent: Louisville Cardinals

Tonight on ESPN at 8 PM, the Louisville Cardinals host the Cincinnati Bearcats in the 50th meeting for the Keg of Nails. The Cardinals have the series at 28-21-1, which doesn’t add up to 50, but math in Kentucky isn’t a strong suit. {EDIT: Since 1 commenter doesn’t understand, if Louisville has it 28-21-1, that means it’s the 51st meeting to them, which doesn’t fucking add up to 50. Think these things out before you comment}The Bearcats lead the series if you did not know. The Bearcats have won two in a row over Louisville for the first time since 96-97, and haven’t won 3 in a row over Louisville since the mid 80s, when they won 4 in a row. The Bearcats have won 12 of the 22 meetings in Louisville, with 1 tie. The most combined points in the series was 83 back in the 43-40 shootout in 2003. With the ways the offenses have been firing, the top 2 in the Big East, we could end up with another wild contest for the best trophy in the world. Let’s take a look at how the Cardinals and Bearcats match up.

Record: 3-2
Coach: Charlie Strong
QB: Adam Froman. Froman has had a great start to his senior season. He’s set a career high in TDs, and has the Cardinal offense clicking. He is 83-139-1,177-9 TDs-4 INTs, with 76 rushing yards and 2 TDs. Froman is tops in the Big East in total yards per game. Froman has tossed 7 TDs in the last two games, with the Memphis game being the only one he hasn’t been picked off this season. The chance to capitalize on a Froman mistake will be there.
RB: Bilal Powell has been on an amazing roll the last two games, going over 200 total yards in both. Last week, it was all rushing, the week before saw 156 rushing, and 65 receiving. Powell has gone for 91-689-7 TDs, which is second in the Big East. He’s got only 6 catches for 96 yards and 1 TD on the second, and isn’t really a threat in the air game. The Cardinals will run Powell out of the wildcat formation. Powell is backed up by probably Jeremy Wright, as Victor Anderson is out of the game. If the Bearcats can contain Powell, the chances of winning improve dramatically.
WR: Josh Bellamy has stepped in for the injured Doug Beaumont as the top receiver for the Cards, with 15-265-4 TDs. Beaumont (16-244-1 TD) is questionable tonight. Cam Graham has been the safety outlet for Froman from his tight end position, catching 13-193-2 TDs. Local product Josh Chichester didn’t start the season at WR, but since Beaumont has gone down, he’s caught 6-123-1 TD. He’s also 6’8, which could be a problem for the Bearcat corners. Froman has seemingly just thrown the ball up for Bellamy to go get on the sideline, so it’s important Reuben Johnson and Cam Cheatham get position, and not flags.
OL: The Louisville offensive line has played pretty well this season. They have given up just 6 sacks. The Cardinals run for over 200 yards a game, and a 5.7 average, so they have really been clearing out. They have been good in protection, as you can see with the sacks, allowing Froman time to get the ball out. The Louisville line has seen it’s runners lose only 108 yards this season, sacks included. The spread offense has helped this, but as we know, just because you run a spread doesn’t mean you won’t get sacked.
DL: Rodney Gnat is the man to watch tonight. He’s got 6.5 sacks on the season, and could very well be a problem for Hooey or Davis. He can’t touch Zach tonight. Malcolm Tatum has 12.5 tackles on the season, 1 of them a sack. BJ Butler plays end and linebacker. From there he’s wrestled 2 sacks. William Savoy has 3 TFLs on the season.
LB: Dexter Heyman is the most active Cardinal linebacker, with 22 tackles and half a sack on the season. He’s a converted lineman, and has taken to the change well. Daniel Brown has been a force in the backfield from his linebacker spot, with 6 tackles for loss, 3 of them sacks. Antwone Canady, Canady, has 10.5 tackles and a sack of the quarterback.
DB: Shenard Holton is the Cardinals leading tackler from his safety position with 25. He’s had a TFL and caught an INT. He’s broken up 1 pass and defended 2. I don’t know what the difference is between break ups and defenses. Hakeem Smith is the other safety, and is the third leading tackler with 21. He’s stopped 3 people in the backfield, and has recovered a fumble. I don’t know if it’s good or bad that 2 of the 3 leading tacklers are safeties, but it shows that the safeties in the Louisville defense attack. As soon as I type that, CB Johnny Patrick is the 4th leading tackler with 18. Patrick is the playmaker on the defense, however, with 2 INTs. He’s broken up 2 and defended 4. He will look to shut down either Binns or Woods, but good thing is he can’t guard both. Bobby Burns is the other corner, with 11 tackles and a forced fumble. St X product Darius Ashley will see some time at corner. He’s got 2 sacks and an INT.
Special Teams: Chris Philpott was the Cardinals best player in NCAA 11, and he’s not really disappointed, going 5-6 on FGs, and 20-20 on extra points. The miss was from 42. He’s kicked 11 touchbacks on kickoffs. Josh Bleser has 23 punts for a 40.8 average, 2 touchbacks, 6 fair catches, 9 inside the 20 and 3 50+. Josh Bellamy has returned 6 punts for 65 yards, and 2 kicks for 47 yards. Doug Beaumont and Victor Anderson handled those return duties and both are out as mentioned.
Record: 2-3
Coach: Butch Jones
QB: Zach Collaros 91-144-1,180-12 TDs-1 INT. Zach has tossed 3 TDs in each of the last 3 games. He’s also ran for 21 yards and 2 TDs on the season. His play tonight is important. It looks like Zach has started to get to a grasp on everything he needs to do as the starter, and has embraced the role. His 12 TDs are a career high. The first start of Collaros’ career came last year against Louisville. He was 15-17-253-3 TDs, with 52 yards rushing.
RB: Isaiah Pead 41-402-1 TD. Pead has only lost 4 yards this season. That’s it, 4. That’s pretty incredible if you ask me. With Darrin Williams out, John Goebel will be the back up. He’s got 23-166-3 TDs. Pead has been incredible the past two weeks. Jaquizz Rogers had a successful running day on Louisville, and Pead could very well do the same to the Cardinal defense. The way he is running right now, he could break anything, as witnessed by his 80 TD last week, and the 70 yard run, and the 60+ yard run against OU. He’s been incredible to watch.
WR: DJ Woods is the leading receiver on the team, and in the Big East. DJ has 29-489-4 TDs. He had a quiet game against Miami, so I expect him to have a big game tonight. Armon Binns has 24-350-4 TDs on the season, and had a nice game last week. He’s gotten most of his yards and all of his TDs in two games this season. I would like to see some consistency out of Binns. Ben Guidugli has 8-68-1 TD from the tight end spot. Like a broken record, I think we need to get Ben the ball more. Bones Barnett has 7-79-1 TD. I think the opportunity to make plays down the field could there tonight. Binns, and DJ both had huge gains against the Cardinal secondary a year ago, as did Mardy Gilyard.
OL: The line is once again a question mark with the Alex Hoffman injury. Sean Hooey is expected to start, even though Koch says Andre Cureton. Randy Martinez has been great at left guard by the way. The Bearcats have given up 19 sacks for 153 yards. The Cardinals have 18 sacks. UC has given up 4 sacks the last 2 games, 1 coming against Miami, but against Chazz Anderson. The protection needs to be there. The running game I’m not as worried about, since the line has blocked well lately.
DL: Derek Wolfe has been a run stuffing machine, with 20 tackles on the season, 2 TFL and a sack. He’s got a couple of hurries. Dan Giordano has liked the attention lines have been showing Wolfe, and has gathered 3.5 sacks, 5 TFL and 19 tackles total. Brandon Mills, like Giordano, has raised his game. He’s got 15 tackles, but 3 of them are for losses, and he’s forced 2 fumbles. John Hughes is coming around, with 13 tackles.
LB: JK Schaffer and his 49 tackles are second in the Big East. JK has 1.5 of them for a loss, and has 1 INT. He tackles everything that moves, and I expect more of the same tonight. He and Bilal Powell should get to know each other. Maalik Bomar has been the breakout star on defense. He has 33 tackles, 4 for loss, a sack and has forced two fumbles. He played out of his mind against Miami, with 6 tackles in the limited time he was on the field. Walter Stewart is starting to get some numbers built up. He’s got 17 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 sacks and a couple of hurries.
DB: Reuben Johnson has been the best corner for UC on the season. He’s broken up 4 passes, defended 4 passes, should have had an INT, and oh by the way, he’s got 26 tackles. He’s not afraid to make a play. Wes Richardson has 23 tackles from his spot at safety, and is probable to play tonight. If he can’t go, Pat Lambert will probably start. Lambert has 20 tackles, half a sack and an INT. Cam Cheatham is the other starting corner, and he’s been playing well. He’s got 17 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 break up, 1 defense, 1 hurry and a forced fumble. He’s really taking advantage of the opportunity. Drew Frey has 15 tackles at the other safety spot, with his first TFL coming against Miami.
Special Teams: Jake Rogers is 5-7 on field goals for the season, and 16-17 on extra points. His misses were from 48 and 52. He’s boomed 15 touchbacks in 27 kickoffs. Pat O’Donnell has 27 punts for a 42.5 average, with 3 touchbacks, 6 fair catches, 10 inside the 20 and 6 50+. DJ Woods has returned 10 punts 88 yards, while he’s taken 8 kicks 201 yards.
I think this is going to be a fun game to watch. We are about 5 hours away from kickoff, and I’m getting pretty pumped up. Here are 3 keys for Bearcat victory.
  1. Slow down Bilal Powell. If the Bearcats can turn off the running game, they can force Froman into mistakes in the air. The Bearcat run D has been very impressive on the season, and is the 8th best run defense in the country. Louisville’s rushing offense is 18th. It’s going to be a tough task on paper, but I think the Bearcats can manage.
  2. Get Isaiah Pead going. Louisville has a middle of the road run defense. The way Pead has been going, he can take over the game. He did it against Oklahoma. He definitely did it against Miami. He had 88 yards in just 6 carries last season against Louisville. UC’s offense is hard to stop when 23 is breaking huge runs.
  3. Keep everything short on defense. The Bearcats have played well at times defensively, and then they get burnt for big plays. It’s happened in every loss. Louisville has shown off a home run offense. Even if it is against terrible defenses, they still have made the plays. Giving up a big play in front of a huge crowd on a Friday night in a national televised Big East opening rivalry game is never fun.
I made a prediction with the Collision Course earlier in the day, and I’m going to stick to that. I think Louisville is going to jump out with points early. Then Cincinnati will come back with an answer. After a little of nothing, both teams score in the second quarter. I think at the half we see something like 17-10. Louisville starts the second half with the ball, or gets a stop, and has a nice drive that ends in a disappointing field goal. Next play, Pead breaks a huge run and the Bearcats go up 24-13 and don’t look back. I do think Collaros will pick the Cardinal secondary apart, but I think that Froman and Powell will do the same to Cincinnati for a while. And as is now a tradition until he does it, I think Reuben Johnson gets an INT.
Cincinnati 31 Louisville 20



About Scott

I write Bearcats Blog and also on the Student Section.