The University of Louisville football will do something it’s only done a few times in its history – face two top-5 teams in the same season.
After opening up the 2018 season versus No. 1 Alabama in September, the Cardinals travel to “Death Valley” to face No. 2 Clemson Saturday in a nationally televised game on ABC. It’s the first time since the 2016 season that the Cardinals will plays two top-5 teams when the Cardinals defeated No. 2 Florida State and lost to Clemson.
“We play a really good football team this Saturday,” head coach Bobby Petrino said. They’re as good of a defense as there is out there. Their defensive front, linebackers are big and physical and fast.”
“Offensively, their quarterback is doing a really nice job for them. They’ve had some games where they’ve relied on the run and their offensive line was blocking the front. Their running backs are fast. And then, last week, they came out and threw the ball. Trevor Lawrence can really zip it. He can spin the ball. He’s got a really good wrist and can get the ball down the field to his targets, so it’s a great challenge for us.”
Clemson and Louisville have had some memorable games in its short history in the league together. The Cardinals dropped a 23-17 decision at Clemson in 2014 and lost 42-36 in a memorable game in 2016.
“Well, what you have to do is go out and practice hard,” Petrino said. “Do everything you can to get in the game and try to get it into the fourth quarter. That’s what you have to be able to do is try to get it into the fourth quarter. There have been games in the past that teams have went in there and beat them, so you have to rely on the fact that we’re going to just give our best effort and play as hard as we possibly can.”
The Cardinals are in the midst of a five-game losing streak after a 56-35 loss to Wake Forest last weekend at Cardinal Stadium. Louisville showed potential on the offensive side of the ball, throwing for a career high 358 yards on 30 of 54 passing, while Tutu Atwell and Jaylen Smith added a pair of 100-yard receiving games.
“Offensively, I feel like we’ve made some improvements,” Petrino said. “We did a better job of running the football. We did a better job blocking the front to run the football, and our receivers got in good positions. Hassan and (redshirt junior running back) Trey (Smith), I thought, did a good job of breaking tackles and running with the ball. Jawon Pass delivered the ball, made good decisions. He’s doing a better job of seeing defenses.”
If the Cardinals are going to turn the season around, the defense has to improve. Wake Forest rushed for 368 yards in the win over the Cardinals, and were able to average over eight yards per play.
“You try to get them in better position, just like I talked about,” Petrino said. “As a coaching staff, we’ve got to get our guys in better position, get them to work together, understand exactly what they’re supposed to do. Tackle better and run full speed to the ball.”
Louisville and Clemson will kick off at Memorial Stadium at noon.
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