Know Your Opponent: Louisville Cardinals

The game everyone circled on the calendar all season has finally arrived. Like a present from Santa, the Keg of Nails sits under the tree. Cincinnati will play the Louisville Cardinals for the 53rd, and maybe final for a long while, time tonight. Cincinnati hasn't played Louisville at Nippert since 2009. Speaking of Nippert Stadium, this is the Nippert finale until 2015.

With Louisville ranked 16 and Cincinnati ranked 23, it's the first matchup of ranked teams in American, the conference not the nation, history. This the first Keg of Nails game where both Cincinnati and Louisville have been ranked. Coincidentally enough, Louisville was ranked 16th last season. 

If Cincinnati has any shot at winning a share of the American title and advancing to a BCS bowl, the mission is quite simple, beat Louisville. The table is set for an incredibly fun night at a sold out Nippert. I can not wait.

Spread: Louisville -3.5

Game time: 7:30 pm


Series: Cincinnati 29-22-1

Last Meeting: Louisville 34-31 OT, October 26, 2012

In Cincinnati: UC 16-12. Cincinnati has won the last 2 meetings in Cincinnati, the longest streak since the mid-80s.

Streak: Louisville – 1

Record: 9-2, 6-1

Rank: 23

Coach: Tommy Tuberville 9-2 (140-79)

Quarterback: The Bearcat QB playing his final game has never thrown an incomplete pass against Louisville. He was 1-1 back in 2009. Brendon Kay is 225-320, 70.3%, for 2,817 yards, 22 TDs and 9 INTs. He's rushed for 129 yards and 4 TDs. Kay put up his lowest completion percentage of the year as a starter against Houston by completing 58%. He also threw for a career high 406 yards. His last 5 games have all been near 300 or much better, 300, 321, 299, 405, 406. He's thrown 13 TDs against 5 INTs in that span. INTs have been Kay's bugaboo lately. Can't afford mistakes tomorrow. He hasn't made many this year.

Running Backs: The Bearcats leading rusher is Hosey Williams. He's rushed 97 times for 575 yards and 4 TDs. Hosey is averaging 5.9 yards a pop. He added to it with 6.5 yards a carry against Houston. He's been a revelation lately. Williams has over 140 yards more than the second man on the list, Ralph David Abernathy IV. RDA IV has 113 carries for 433 yards with 3 scores. He ran for 39 yards with 2 flashy TDs against the Cards last year. Tion Green is the third man with 371 yards and 7 TDs. Jordan Luallen, the Show Off,  has 203 yards and 3 TDs. Only Abernathy, 17-129, is a receiving threat.

Receivers: The leading receiver in terms of receptions is Shaq Washington with 74. He's picked up 736 yards with 1 TD. The leading receiver in yards is Anthony McClung. He has 61 receptions for 811 yards and 5 TDs. They have been a huge 1-2 during the winning streak and I think one of the best duos in the country the last month. I'll put their numbers against anyone. Chris Moore has 36 grabs, 9 of which have scored. He has 507 yards. Max Morrison has 27 receptions for 418 yards and 3 TDs. Mekale McKay has 14 catches for 405. He's second on the team with 7 TDs. He was bottled up against Houston last week. Let's see if he can break out tonight. Blake Annen has 14 receptions for 173 yards and 2 scores as well.

Offensive Line: Eric Lefeld – Austen Bujnoch – Deyshawn Bond – Sam Longo – Parker Ehinger are listed as the UC starters. They've been listed as the starters all year but have only started 5 games together. Houston was one of those. Andre Cureton has started 4 of the last 5 games for Bujnoch and Lefeld. Cincinnati averages 6.4 yards a play, 8.8 a pass and 4.3 a rush. The Cats have given up 11 sacks.

UC has 273 first downs. They are 80-159, 50% on 3rd down. UC is 7-15 on 4th down. UC is 35-48, 73% in the red zone. You'll find out later how bad that is. Tease.

Defensive Line: Silverberry Mouhon is the Cat to watch up front. He's the team leader in sacks with 8.5. His 9 tackles for loss rank him third. He has a team best 7 hurries and has forced 2 fumbles. Jordan Stepp has 34 tackles, 7.5 for loss and 6 sacks. Brad Harrah is second on the team in tackles for loss with 9.5 All Brad Harrah does is make tackles for loss. So much so that's less of a joke and more of just the facts. Adam Dempsey has 7 TFL with 3.5 sacks. Terrell Hartsfield still has 3 TFL and 1.5 sacks. Seems like it's been a while since those numbers moved. Marques Aiken has 2 TFL.

Linebackers: No surprise that Cincinnati's leading tackler is Greg Blair. He's made 78 tackles on the season, 6.5 for for loss with 1 sack. Blair has forced a fumble while recovering another. He's forced 4 hurries and broken up 3 passes. I don't know if he'll be first time All-American conference, but he's had a very good year. So has his running mate Nick Temple. Temple has 64 tackles, 11 for loss with 4 sacks. He's picked off a pass and forced a fumble. It seems like Temple has hit everything that moves this season. He's the Bearcat leader in tackles for loss. Jeff Luc has 35 tackles, 6.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks. He's forced a pair of fumbles. He leads the team in showing off his stomach in his jersey.

Secondary: The freshman Zach Edwards leads the secondary in tackles from his safety spot. He's made 59 of them, 2.5 for loss. He's picked off 2 passes, broken up 4 more and forced a fumble. He's had a great season. Arryn Chenault is the other starting safety. He's made 49 tackles, 1 for loss. Chenault has picked off a pass while breaking up a team high 6. Adrian Witty has made 38 stops, 2 for loss. He picked off a pass for a TD. He's broken up 3. At corner we have Howard Wilder. His numbers are modest for the level of production he's given, 28 tackles, 1 INT, 3 passes broken up, 1 forced fumble. Deven Drane leads Cincinnati with 3 INTs. He's second with 5 passes broken up. Leviticus Payne has made 20 tackles with 1 TFL and 1 INT. Mike Tyson has picked off 2 passes. He gets mentioned because he's Mike Tyson.

Kicker: The Golden Toe Tony Miliano kind of sounds like an ironic nickname at the rate he's gone, which makes me feel bad. Tony was 1-3 last week. He's 3 for his last 12 and just 5-14 on the season. He's hit 1-2 from 20-29, 3-6 from 30-39, 1-5 from 40-49 and missed a 51 yarder. I really want him to make a big kick because he seems like a really nice guy and he's my favorite player. Have a good game, Tony. I'm sure he reads this and this will give him the motivation he needs to go 5-5 if need be.

Holder: Brendon Kay

Long Snapper: Kirk Willis

Punter: John Lloyd has punted 26 times for a 43.3 yard average with a long of 61. 8 of his 26 punts have been inside the 20 with 3 touchbacks. Brendon Kay has punted 13 times for a 40.3 yard average. 7 of his 13 punts have been inside the 20 with 4 touchbacks.

Kick Returns: RDA IV has returned 16 kicks for a 21.9 yard average. His long is 38. It's been a modest year for him. RDA took a kick back 41 yards last year. Maybe Louisville is what he needs.

Punt Returns: Teams have punted at Anthony McClung more and that hasn't been the best thing. He's returned 16 punts 55 yards, a 3.4 yard average. His long is 12. Shaq Washington has returned 11 punts 109 yards with a long of 35. Please kick it to Shaq.

Record: 10-1, 6-1

Rank: 16

Coach: Charlie Strong 35-15

Quarterback: The Cardinal quarterback is Teddy Bridgewater. You know all about him because he's really great and could be the first pick in the NFL draft. Bridgewater is 245-345, 71%, for 3,268 yards, 25 TDs against 3 INTs. The only thing that can stop Teddy Bridgewater is the Louisville game plan. He's had 2 games where he completed under 65% of his passes. He hit 57% and 56.8%. Only once this season has Bridgewater not thrown a TD pass. He does have just 2 TDs the last 3 games. Bridgewater lit up Cincinnati to the tune of 416 yards passing last year. 

He's really damn good. I don't know what else to say about him besides that. Anyone who says during the game that he's overrated should have you who is reading this say 'I wish my quarterback put up overrated Teddy Bridgewater's numbers,' and throw a tomato at them. Bring a tomato tomorrow. You toss it in the air as a celebration or throw it in disgust at a loss. Or eat it. Win win win.

Running Backs: The Card running attack has become a two man operation. Former UC commit Dominique Brown leads the way with 129 carries for 704 yards, a 5.5 yard average and 7 TDs. He's been the top dog for the Cards lately. Senorise Perry has 119 carries for 550 yards and 6 TDs. Perry has only had 50 yards once since the middle of October. Stopping the big man is the key. Perry was bottled up pretty hard with just 36 yards last year.

Out of backs, Brown is the receiving target. He's hauled home 21 receptions for 200 yards and a TD. Perry has 12 catches for 115 yards.

Receivers: Teddy Bridgewater's top target is Damian Copeland, also known as Honey Mustard for the reason you can see in the picture of him holding the Keg. Copeland has 49 receptions for 655 yards and 4 TDs. He had a big game with 5-96 last year. The big play receiving threat is DeVante Parker. He's made 37 receptions for 639 yards with 9 TDs. He leads Louisville in yards per game because he missed one. Parker had a monster 4 catch, 120 yard, 2 TD outing in 2012. Eli Rogers had 37 receptions for 466 yards and 4 TDs. Florida transfer tight end Gerald Christian has 24 catches for 377 yards and 4 TDs as well. Robert Clark has hauled home 22 passes for 200 yards and a score. Kai De La Cruz has just 15 receptions but 271 yards and 3 TDs. He's a game time decision tonight. Bridgewater mixes the ball around to everyone. The defense has to stay on their toes.

Offensive Line: Jamon Brown – John Miller – Jake Smith – Kamran Joyer – Ryan Mack make up the Louisville line. Brown, Miller and Smith have started every game. Joyer has started the last 4, 6 total. Mack has started every game in the opener. Louisville has given up 22 sacks on the season. They average 6.8 yards a play, 9.5 per pass and 4.2 per rush.

The Cards have managed 248 first downs. They are the second best team in the nation at converting 3rd downs. UofL is 85 of 149, 57%. They are 0-4 on 4th down though. Louisville has burned up the red zone. They are 44-50, 88%.

Defensive Line: The main man to watch on the Cardinal front is Marcus Smith. He's had an All-American type of season. Smith has 12.5 sacks, the second most in the nation by half a sack. He's the national leader in sacks per game. Smith is tied for 13th in the NCAA with 15 tackles for loss. He has forced 3 fumbles. Smith has also blocked a kick on special teams. Whatever tackle sees him is going to have to buckle up. Lorenzo Mauldin is the other end. He's made 12 tackles for loss with 9.5 sacks. The duo rank 1 and 3 in the American in sacks. Mauldin has also forced 3 fumbles. Tackle Roy Philon has also made 12 tackles for loss. He's got 4 sacks. Brandon Dunn has 31 tackles, 3.5 for loss with a sack. His numbers look under whelming compared to the rest. BJ Dubose has 4 TFL and 1.5 sacks, Sheldon Rankins 4 TFL, 3 sacks. Deiontrez Mount just has a cool name.

Linebackers: A former Bearcat recruit leads the Card defense. Preston Brown has made 80 tackles, 9.5 for loss with 3.5 sacks. He's forced 3 fumbles while recovering 2. He's a really good linebacker. He's joined by James Burgess. Burgess has made 61 tackles, 5 for loss. He's picked off a pass and broken up 4 others. Burgess has forced a fumble as well. Keith Kelsey has made 21 tackles, 1 for loss.

Secondary: The Cardinal secondary is led by Calvin Pryor. He didn't play last week because of a disciplinary issue, he is expected back tonight. He's a big addition back. He's made 57 tackles, 3.5 TFL while forcing 2 fumbles. Pryor has also picked off 3 passes. He's also got a reputation for being a big hitter. Not the best videos. The other safety is Hakeem Smith, who has made 38 tackles, 2 for loss and 1 sack. He's picked off 2 passes. The top corner is Terell Floyd. He also has 38 tackles, 2 for loss. Floyd leads the Cards with 4 INTs. Charles Gaines is the other corner. He's got just 19 tackles. Gaines is tied with Floyd with 4 INTs. He's broken up a team high 6 passes. Gaines has blocked a kick.

Kicker: The UofL kicker is John Wallace. He's hit 16-20 on the season. He's 2-2 from inside 20, 7-9 from 20-29, 7-7 from 30-39. Wallace has attempted only two kicks longer than 39. One was a 45 yard attempt against Rutgers, the other a 50 yard attempt against Memphis. He missed them both.

Holder: Ryan Johnson

Long Snapper: Grant Donovan

Punter: Ryan Johnson is probably a good punter but thank god he's not the elite type of punter UC has seen this season. Johnson has 34 punts with a 41.4 yard average with a long of 54. He's hit 10 of 34 inside the 20 with 5 touchbacks. He's had a kick blocked.

Kick Returns: Robert Clark has been the primary returner with a 15.6 yard average, which isn't very good. Charles Gaines has taken 7 kicks for 241 yards. One of them was a 93 yard TD. I suggest kicking to Clark.

Punt Returns: Two Cards have returned 10 punts. Kai De La Cruz has taken 10 for 29 yards with a long of 7. Eli Rogers has taken 10 for 82 yards with a long of 29. Methinks we see Eli Rogers back there.


Teddy Bridgewater and Brendon Kay rank 2nd and 4th in the NCAA in completion percentage. It seems to me that whatever team can lower that percentage for the other passer is going to be in better shape.

Louisville gives up 82.8 yards rushing. Cincinnati gives up 91.5. Those also rank 2 and 4. Whoever runs the ball better will probably be in better shape.

A win by Louisville would give them their first undefeated road slate since 1972. If that's not a fun fact, I don't know what is.

The last time the schools closed out the regular season against each other was a decade ago in 2003. In my humble opinion, it was the best game in Keg of Nails history.

Louisville hasn't lost to a ranked opponent since 2010.

Cincinnati hasn't beaten a ranked opponent since 2009.

The Cardinal 3rd down defense is the best in the nation. Their opponents are 38-144, 26.4%. The next closest team is at nearly 29%. They have been dominant.

Cincinnati's 3rd down defense has also been exceptional. UC opposition is 49-154, 31.8%. That's tied for 8th best.

Louisville is 6th in red zone defense, Cincinnati is 10th. The red zone offense is going to be a huge area of concern. Louisville has been just as good as Auburn, they are tied. Cincinnati has been worse than Southern Miss and Purdue.

The biggest defensive difference is in passing yards allowed. Louisville has given up 1,756, the second best mark in the country. Cincinnati is 24th with 2,319 yards.

Brendon Kay has to be holding because UC is going to use a trick play, right? Right? I say we see a trick play.

The losing team won't break 85 yards rushing, bold prediction.

The winning team won't break 120 yards rushing, bolder prediction.

Mekale McKay has 150 receiving yards, boldest prediction.

Don't forget that it's a blackout. UC announced it before the season. There was a hint of a different uniform. There are definitely altered helmets.

I really hope that this is a great game. I'm really wary that the series will continue. If it does, it won't be any time soon. It's great that it gets to go out on a grand stage with a sellout crowd on national TV with 2 ranked teams for the first time ever. It's exciting and a little bittersweet. This is the biggest rival that Cincinnati has. Losing them would be a really big blow for the schedule and for general enthusiasm. The one game everyone was pointing to all season was this one. The first 11 games were the appetizer, this is the main course. I guess we start a rivalry with UCF or whatever next year, but it won't be the game. If Louisville has to pick between playing Cincinnati and Kentucky, well that's not really a choice. This game is important to a lot of people for a lot of reasons. It's important to me. I hope that tonight's game kicks so much ass that the schools have no choice but to keep things going. I know life doesn't work like that, but a guy can hope.

I've said all year that I think Louisville is better than Cincinnati and that they were going to win. If I had to throw out a guess, I would say something like:

Louisville 34 Cincinnati 27

But I have no idea who is going to win. I genuinely don't. I can see it going either way. It'll either be the score on top or

If Cincinnati is going to win, Tony Miliano is winning this shit.

Cincinnati 31 Louisville 30


About Scott

I write Bearcats Blog and also on Run the Floor.


Know Your Opponent: Louisville Cardinals

Tonight at 8 on ESPN, the Cincinnati Bearcats make their way down I-71 to face the Louisville Cardinals. It's the 52nd meeting in the series. If you somehow didn't know, the teams play for the best trophy in the world, the Keg of Nails. This is a big game for both programs. Louisville is marching through it's schedule undefeated. Cincinnati is coming off a tough loss last week, but the Bearcats have been the barometer for the Big East many of the past few seasons. UC and UofL split shares of the Big East championship last season. I always have looked forward to this game so much. The stakes this season are very high. Cincinnati can get right back in the Big East race by knocking off the Cards. Louisville can conquer one of the biggest rivals and set up the path towards a BCS bid. There were also comments by one of the quarterbacks about how he was better than the other team's quarterback and that he would show the world tonight. It's time to show off, Munchie. 

Record: 5-1, 1-0

Coach: Butch Jones 19-12

Road: 0-1

Vs Louisville: 29-21-1

At Louisville: 13-9-1 (Cincinnati) 13-10-1 (Louisville)

Keg of Nails Streak: 4 years

Last Meeting: 25-16 October 15, 2011

Leading Passer: Munchie Legaux 96-180 – 1,435 yards – 12 TDs -5 INTs

Leading Rusher: George Winn 97 – 607 – 4 TDs

Leading Receiver: Travis Kelce 13 – 286 – 2 TDs

Quarterback: Munchie Legaux is making the biggest start of his career. Let's just throw all those cards on the table right now. He is coming off a horrible performance at Toledo. He had one of his comments blown up to become a talking point for the game. He has never faced the kind of scrutiny that he will tonight. It's a game he has to play well. Cincinnati will lose if he doesn't. He doesn't have to throw for 400 yards, he just has to play to the best of his talent. We know he's not going to throw darts all over the field, complete 80% of his passes and pick Louisville apart. He's got to make smart throws. He's got to protect the ball when he runs. He is the Bearcats second leading rusher for the season. He doesn't have to make every play, he just has to make the right plays. Sometimes that will be a throw away. Sometimes that will be a check down instead of throwing deep. Munchie can't let the pressure from the Louisville defense get to him. It's a big day for this young man. 

Running Backs: There was some movement on the depth chart this week. Tion Green has passed Jameel Poteat for the 3rd running back spot. It sounds like a significant move, but let's keep in mind that the Bearcats have been only running 3 people in the games that matter most. The running back split pretty much is dead and buried. I do hope Tion Green finds a way to get on the field. He's a talented guy. George Winn has to be licking his chops after watching Lindsey Lamar run for 100 yards against Louisville last week. Lamar went up the middle on a lot of his runs. Winn runs up the middle on a lot of his runs. 1+1 doesn't equal 2 here, but it's something to put in your back pocket. I don't know what that means. That sentence was basically garbage. Winn is going to run and he is going to run tough against the Cards. Isaiah Pead ran wild on Louisville the past 2 years. 2010 isn't remembered as a Pead game because Collaros and Binns went nuts. He had 145 yards in that game. Winn doesn't have to get 145 yards by himself, but a combination of he and Ralph David Abernathy IV do. I'm interested to see how often RDA touches the ball. I think he needs to be more involved in the passing game. He is one of many Cats with 14 receptions. I think he walks out tonight fully in second place in catches for the team. 

Receivers: The wide receivers should be getting more heat for the struggles of Munchie Legaux. I'm sorry, it's true. None of them is averaging 50 yards a game. Only Travis Kelce, now the leading receiver in terms of yards, has picked up his game lately. Kenbrell Thompkins had 134 yards against Virginia Tech. He hasn't gone over 50 yards in any other game this season. Anthony McClung has 14-185-1 TD because he's been banged up some and because he just hasn't made explosive plays. Damon Julian has 14-273-3 TDs and is the one Munchie seems to look to for the big play. But even Julian has struggled since Virginia Tech. His high in yards came last week with 36. Alex Chisum has only 5-87 so far because of injuries. The biggest impact the receivers made last week was that they held on 2 long runs. Someone, anyone, has to turn it on. 

Offensive Line: The group of Eric Lefeld, Austen Bujnoch, Dan Sprague, Sam Longo and Parker Ehinger keeps on rocking and rolling. Cincinnati is averaging 5.9 yards a rush. They average 8 yards per pass. That's a total of 6.8 yards a play. They have only given up 4 sacks this season. The group doesn't get penalized that often. This is a very good group of offensive linemen. Definitely a strength of the squad. 

Defensive Line: For some reason Walter Stewart is listed at the top of the depth chart for this game, even though he's been ruled out. That's weird. Brandon Mills and Dan Giordano will start at the ends, with Camaron Beard and Jordan Stepp or John Williams in the middle. Adam Dempsey, a tackle, is banged up and didn't play last week. Another loss for the rotation that was clearly worn down by Toledo last week. Giordano has had a nice season. He's got 23 tackles, 3.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks. John Williams also has 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Beard has made 4 tackles for loss. Stepp has 2 tackles for loss and 1 sack. Mills has 1 sack this season, but 3 hurries. He recovered a fumble last week. Elijah Shuler found his way in the mix last week and got a sack. Big game for this group with Louisville's 2 headed running attack. 

Linebackers: The leading tackles for the Bearcats are their 2 linebackers that are on the field almost every down. Greg Blair has made 54 tackles, 3 for loss, with 2 INTs. Maalik Bomar has made 46 tackles, 1 for loss. They are both vital parts of the Cincinnati defense. They both are going to have their hands full trying to cover the Louisville receivers. The Cards will try to pick on the linebackers just like everyone has since Miami. There is a weakness in pass coverage. Especially with Bomar. It's going to be picked on. It's all about how you respond in the face of adversity. Let's see how the B's respond. Nick Temple has had a quietly good season considering he isn't on the field a ton. He has 18 tackles and a sack. He's broken up 2 passes. Maybe he will make a play on special teams. 

Defensive Backs: The UC secondary has some playmakers. Teddy Bridgewater is going to challenge them to make plays. This is a great test for the secondary. There isn't a QB in the league as good as Bridgewater. If the Cats can make plays on him, they can make plays on anyone. Both Cameron Cheatham and safety Arryn Chenault have 2 INTs. Deven Drane has 1 INT and a fumble recovery TD. Drew Frey and Chris Williams have made a tackle for loss. Cheatham and Drane are going to be challenged at corner, but I think it comes down to Williams, Frey and Chenault in coverage. Bridgewater fires the ball around. One of them has to make a play on one of the other Card receivers. 

Special Teams: Kirk Willis continues to snap the ball only to Pat O'Donnell. POD has punted for a 43 yard average.  9 of his 22 punts have landed inside the 20. 4 have been over 50 yards. He's a little banged up with a hamstring injury, but he can change field position, which should be a big key. POD holds for the Golden Toe Tony Miliano. Tony is 9-12 on field goals, 5-5 from under 40, 4-7 from 40+. He made all 3 last week. Danny Milligan is averaging 20.7 yards a punt return on his 3 tries. Anthony McClung is averaging 12.8. Kick return wise, RDA IV is getting nearly 26 yards a  pop. McClung and Shaq Washington are listed as the other kick returners. That might not matter because RDA IV has returned 14 of the 15 kickoffs. 

Record: 7-0, 2-0

Coach: Charlie Strong 21-12

Rank: 14/16, 16 in BCS

Home: 4-0

PJCS vs Cincinnati: 4-3

Leading Passer: Teddy Bridgewater 138-188 – 1,694 yards – 11 TDs – 3 INTs

Leading RusherSenorise Perry 107 – 588 – 10 TDs

Leading Receiver: DeVante Parker 16 – 337 – 2 TDs

Quarterback: Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He's completing 73.4% of his passes. He can pick your defense apart with his right arm. He can throw deep, he can throw short, he can make the tough passes up the sideline. The only games he's throw interceptions in have been in extreme rain. Bridgewater is a great quarterback. He isn't a great rusher. He has 82 yards on the season and 1 TD. That's about 11 yards a game. He prefers sitting in the pocket and throwing darts. That's why getting pressure on him is so important. He's not going to beat himself. UC has to make plays to beat him, sacks, fumbles, INTs, anything. It's not going to be easy. 

Running Backs: The Cardinals go with a 2 man split. Senorise Perry has 107 attempts for 588 yards and 10 TDs. Jeremy Wright has 110 attempts for 477 yards and 7 TDs. Perry is the one to watch out for on the big plays. He has the longest run in a Louisville game this season of 59 yards. Wright's long has been 21. In the Thunder and Lightning scenario, Wright is Thunder and Perry is Lightning. It doesn't matter what back is gaining yards, the Cardinal offense will split it up. Both backs are targets out of the backfield, particularly Wright. He has 16-133. Perry has 12-133. Louisville will pound away, especially in the red zone. 17 rushing TDs between them is a lot. 

Wide Receivers: As mentioned previously, DeVante Parker is the Cardinal leader in yards with 337. He's 7 receptions behind the leading pass catcher, Damian Copeland. Copeland has 23-262-1 TD this season. Parker is the main deep threat on the team, averaging 21.1 yards a reception. Andrell Smith has 15-220-1 TD. Eli Rogers 15-152-2 TDs, Nate Nord 11-103-1 TD, Charles Gaines 9-163-1 TD, Nick Heuser has 2 TD catches. 12 players have caught the 142 completions from Louisville quarterbacks. You don't know who is getting the ball and they can all make plays. 

Offensive Line: From left to right, you have Alex Kupper, John Miller, Mario Benavides, Jake Smith and Jamon Brown. The Cards average 4.2 yards a rush and 8.7 yards per pass. That's good for 6.1 yards a play. Louisville has given up 13 sacks, nearly 2 a game. Maybe there is something to take advantage of in this aspect. No Walter Stewart is tough.  

Defensive Line: Cardinal end Lorenzo Mauldin was named the Big East defensive player of the week this past week. He's joined at end by Marcus Smith. Roy Philon and Brandon Dunn are the starting tackles. Mauldin has 5.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Both of those lead the team. Dunn has 1 sack. Smith has 3 tackles for loss and a sack. He's also picked off a pass. Philon has 2 tackles for loss, 1.5 of those being in sacks. Deiontrez Mount has an awesome name and 1.5 sacks this season.

Linebackers: The Cardinal linebackers have their own double B's. Preston Brown and Keith Brown are 2 of the 3 starting backers, along with George Durant. Preston is the leading tackler of the group with 45. He's broken up 2 passes. Keith Brown is 5th on the team in tackles with 29. He's done that in 5 games. He has a pair of QB hurries, so you know he likes to blitz. Durant has 3 tackles for loss and half a sack. He has a hurry.  Champ Lee doesn't have stats worth talking about, but his name is Champ Lee. 

Defensive Backs: The Louisville secondary hasn't been a high point for the team lately. They gave up a couple of TDs to USF. That doesn't mean they aren't a talented unit. Adrian Bushell and Terrell Floyd man the corners, Hakeem Smith and Calvin Pryor the safety spots. Pryor leads the Cardinals with 54 tackles. He also leads the team with 4 forced fumbles. He has 1 INT. Hakeem Smith is an All Big East selection. He has 39 tackles, 1.5 for loss. He's broken up a pair of passes and has forced a fumble this season. Bushell has 36 tackles, 0.5 for loss. He's picked off a pass and is tied for the team lead in passes broken up with 4. He's recovered a pair of fumbles. Floyd has 27 tackles, 3 of them for loss. He is second on the team with 2 sacks. He's tied with Bushell with 4 passes broken up. Andrew Johnson didn't play last week, but he should tonight. He has 16 tackles. Jermaine Reve has 3.5 tackles for loss and 1 sack. They blitz the corners. 

Special Teams: Grant Donovan snaps punts to Ryan Johnson. Johnson is averaging 40.8 yards a punt. 9 of his 20 punts have been inside the 20. He has had 1 blocked. The Cards kicker is a split position. John Wallace has kicked more, 5-5, but Matthew Nakatani has made the long of 45. Louisville has attempted, and made, 7 field goals this season. Kai Dominguez will handle punt returns. He has a 6.4 yard average. Not great. Louisville uses quite a few guys to return kicks. Adrian Bushell has been the most successful with a 23.8 yard average. 

Paw Points

It is raining in Louisville right now and is suppose to rain all night. 

Special teams are going to be a major key here. I would say Cincinnati has a distinct advantage at kicker, punter, punt return and kick return. They have to take advantage of it. Special teams was a killer last week in the loss to Toledo. If Cincinnati can force Wallace and Nakatani to try field goals, that's a win. Even if they make them all. Louisville has only kicked 3 touchbacks on kickoffs. Another area for the Bearcats to take advantage. You would love to see RDA bust one. 

Louisville has been outscored 56-39 in the 4th quarter this season. They have blown leads in multiple games, including last week. This one won't be over until the final whistle. That's true about every game, but competitively, it won't be over until the final whistle.

I think we could see a lot of running plays tonight. Both teams like to lean on the ground game. Louisville ran for just 2.1 yards a carry last year. Cincinnati ran for 4.9. I have a feeling one of those stats will be similar this year. 

We've heard all week that Louisville likes to take chances on defense. They have not made a lot of plays in the secondary, 3 INTs, so I throw deep on them. Let KT go an get it. Maybe you can get in a Virginia Tech type of situation. 

 I'm a little, a lot, worried about Bridgewater picking on the linebackers in coverage. Let's see if the Cats come up with a scheme to throw them off. 

Get RDA IV the ball early and often. 12 touches for him would be solid. 

KEG OF NAILS, BABY. If you aren't excited about tonight, you aren't my friend. 


About Scott

I write Bearcats Blog and also on Run the Floor.