1) Louisville has the second-best defense in the country according to Football Outsiders’ F/+ ratings. What do they do schematically to make life so difficult for offenses?
When Todd Grantham came aboard he switched to a 3-3-5 but really it's more than the 3-3-5 switch it's that the defense is so aggressive from that 3-3-5. They have a really good nose tackle (Sheldon Rankins) and then a bunch of guys behind him that can make plays. They will mix it up on where the blitzes come from and who is doing it.
They have 10 guys with at least part of a sack and have all bought into the scheme switch. It's wild because they played some of that with Marcus Smith (Philadelphia Eagles’ first round pick) playing up as an outside linebacker at the end of last season. But Grantham has really put it into their minds they can do it.
2) What are Louisville’s defensive concerns coming into this game? How does the UL back seven match up with Jameis Winston and the FSU passing game?
While Gerod Holliman (eight INTs) leads the nation in interception and James Sample has been solid at safety as well, the Cardinals still have some questions at CB. Andrew Johnson has played one side much of the season with Charles Gaines at the other CB. Gaines was a guy many expected to leave after this season and nobody has really tested him. But in recent games when tested he's been beaten a few times only to have the passes overthrown or incomplete. So, I think the biggest concern is those corners and can they do it against Winston.
3) Although Bobby Petrino has a well-deserved reputation as an offensive guru, the UL offense has struggled at times this year. What has held the offense back, and how does the offense look coming into this game?
Injuries and poor line play. The line had three guys with experience back but no depth and really the other two spots have struggled. They have settled on a line with the three returnees - Jake Smith, Jamon Brown and John Miller - along with former walk on Tobijah Hughley (center) and Aaron Epps also in there. The line played its best game against N.C. State and they're hoping it continues. WR DeVante Parker is the best offensive player on the team and he's back healthy after missing seven games, while the running backs Michael Dyer (thigh), Dominique Brown (ankle), L.J. Scott (ankle) and Brandon Radcliff (turf toe) have all been injured this season. The offense is as healthy as it has been all season this week.
4) How good is Louisville in the trenches, and what are their strengths/weaknesses up front on each side?
Solid but not great and as we said before the offensive line hasn't played up to its potential. The defensive front is much better than the staff anticipated after losing three key seniors from last year's team. The offensive line is getting better but it's just taken time for the line to jell after a few pieces were missing from last season. The offensive line might be the biggest key of this game for Louisville.
5) Where do you think Louisville might have an edge in this game? Where do you expect them to have the most trouble?
Louisville believes they can move the ball against Florida State and they can be successful if sophomore QB Will Gardner can stay within the game plan and make the right reads. When he played at Virginia, he made a couple of bad reads that led to turnovers and that killed the Cards. With Parker back and the inning backs all healthy the Cards feel they can take advantage of that on offense. A major concern for Louisville this week - and every week so far - has been special teams. They have given up a few big plays on special teams and it's a major cause for concern.
The Opening: Jacques Patrick Highlights
\r\nThe Opening: Jacques Patrick Highlights