Jody Demling

Five questions on Louisville with's Mike McCammon

Get to know Louisville a bit better inside as we speak with CardinalAuthority's Mike McCammon about the Cardinals in advance of Saturday's matchup.

1. Louisville's offensive lines have had some issues this season. Why is that the case and where are they vulnerable?

The Louisville offensive line has without question had its share of struggles this season.  They've played a significant role in the Cardinals quarterbacks being sacked slightly more than four times a game, which is good for last in the FBS.  There are multiple reasons for the struggles, including inexperience, as Louisville starts true freshmen at both tackle spots, plus a redshirt freshman at left guard and a junior college transfer at right guard. The most veteran of the bunch is senior Tobiah Hugley, a former walkon at center. The Cardinals are often most vulnerable up the middle, where a running back has been known to also miss a block on occasion.

2. Give a scouting report of Lamar Jackson.

Louisville true freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson's strength is certainly is ability to run, but continues to develop in the passing game.  His 484 rushing yards is tops on the team and he's been the only Cardinal runner to find much success on the ground this season.  While he's learning on the job - especially when working under center - he's already chasing Teddy Bridgewater's school records.  His 1,826 yards of total offense ranks second in school history for a freshman, trailing only the former Cardinal great. His inability, or more accurately, the offense's inability to sustain drives with consistency has created a stir among the fan base as to who should be the starting quarterback, but Bobby Petrino has made it clear that he's sticking with the rookie.

3. What has been the key to the stellar play of the Cardinals defense this season?

Following a slow start to the season, the Cardinals defense has rebounded to be one of the nation's best, checking in at No.17 in total defense nationally.  Louisville lost a lot of talent to the NFL last year, including its entire secondary, so it has taken time for the many new faces to mesh and begin to click as a unit.  Much of the emergence has been fueled by the improving play of guys making their first career starts in 2015.  Outside linebacker Trevon Young has enjoyed back-to-back three sack outings and ranks seventh nationally with nine sacks.  Cornerback Trumaine Washington and safety Chucky Williams, both sophomores, each have three interceptions.

4. What is the important aspect of the game for Louisville to beat Syracuse on Saturday?

The Louisville defense deserves much of the credit for the Cardinals past two wins.  A defensive score by senior defensive end Sheldon Rankins against Boston College and four second half turnovers at Wake Forest each proved to be difference-makers.  With that said, the U of L defense should do its job keeping the Orange in check on Saturday afternoon, but the Cardinals offense will need to find some consistency, especially on the ground, and limit its mistakes to pull out an important home victory.  

5. Where is Louisville most vulnerable in Saturday's matchup?

When remaining in the pocket, Lamar Jackson has had issues handling a pass rush, which comes often against the Cardinals offensive front. The result has been a few forced throws that have resulted in interceptions. The Orange should make pressuring Jackson a priority with the hope of forcing a mistake or a quick three and out.  Offensively, the Orange need to look for the opportunity to catch a defender napping and make a quick scoring strike because long sustained drives will be difficult against the Louisville defense.  Strong special teams play is a must.

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