The absence of Louisville’s star running back, Michael Bush, will be a huge factor. Miami is coming off an excellent performance, but it was against a division I-AA team. Regardless, Miami amassed over 500 yards of offense, a victory any way you slice it.
O-LINE: This is the first true test for the Cardinals’ line after knocking off rival Kentucky and arguably the worst division I-A team, Temple, 62-0. They only allowed two sacks this season. If there is a weakness to exploit it will be on through the middle and the left side. Everyone from the center to the left guard is a sophomore. Advantage: LOUISVILLE
Michael Bush’s absence is a HUGE factor in this game. The stability of running backs left for Head Coach Bobby Petrino play into the hands of Miami’s defense. If you didn’t hear the noise from the Orange Bowl last Saturday, Tryone Moss is back. The whole group of Miami ‘backs ran for over 300 yards on limited carries.
Miami faced Card’s QB Brian Brohm in their last meeting when the ‘Canes defense knocked former Louisville QB Stefan LeFors out of the game early in the second half. Brohm still had a remarkable showing in a hostile Orange Bowl. Kyle Wright has been accurate this year but has suffered with constant pressure and dropped passes.
Louisville’s corps has some size, but only one man should be a concern for Miami’s secondary. Mario Urritia is a 6-6 sophomore averaging 23 yards a catch and leads the team with seven grabs for 161 yards. The ‘Canes counter with a group that have made some great catches already this year, Lance Leggett and Darnell Jenkins especially.
Louisville’s rushing defense on paper looks phenomenal, allowing on average about 19 yards per game, but neither team the Cardinals have faced thus far focus on rushing. The difference is the secondary, where the Cards have allowed nearly 230 yards per game to Temple and Kentucky.
One half of Louisville’s front four are seniors. Zach Anderson and Amobi Okoye anchor one side while the other could arguably be weaker from inexperience, and not from freshman Deantwan “Peanut” Whitehead’s 6-6, 245 pound frame. The ‘Canes may not have the sacks by the front four to prove their ferocity this year, but their run-stopping ability should speak volumes of this unit.
Miami’s depth and speed on the pursuit gives the ‘Canes an edge. Louisville’s team leaders on tackles are Abe Brown on the weak side and South Florida product Nate Harris in the middle, but their ability to cover receivers in the open field will be tested due to the Cards commitment to blitzing their safeties for a pass rush.
The ‘Canes could win the game right here with the secondary. Louisville’s secondary allowed both Temple and Kentucky to throw for over 200 yards. Miami’s corners did a great job shutting down FSU’s receivers. For anybody that saw Miami beat Louisville the last time, the Cards will probably respect the middle since Meriweather dropped the hammer in 2004. This time he’s joined by the equally lethal Kenny Phillips.
Special teams made the difference the last time these two met. Devin Hester returned a punt for a touchdown to give Miami the go-ahead score in the game, but not the game winner. Louisville’s Art Carmody is on the Lou Groza award watch list making him a potent kicker. Jon Peattie is perfect so far, but hasn’t been tested from distance yet.
Rodolfo Tomarchio may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.