Welcome to the Schnellenberger Bowl edition of the Five Keys! The modern history of the Miami-Louisville rivalry is full of notable games, and this one looks to be no exception, with the College Game Day crew COMIN’ TO OUR CITAYYY!!! Sorry. Big & Rich has ruined me. Last year’s matchup was an odd one for the Cards. It was the first game all season where it felt like UofL just didn’t show up. They turned the ball over three times and gave up six (SIX!) passing touchdowns to a dude that will be selling insurance in two years. Just odd.
Opening weekend saw both good and bad from the Cards as they dispatched WKU in relatively convincing fashion. As I said at the time, it was almost an ideal non-conference opener. The game never really felt in doubt, but plenty of mistakes were made, giving the coaches plenty to work with during film sessions.
After a similar slow start, Miami pulled away from UAB in week one, winning 31-14. Their offense presents a unique challenge for the improved Louisville defense, and the Canes defensive front is talented and potentially disruptive.
With much of the country cancelling or delaying their seasons, Miami/Louisville looks to be the best matchup of the young season. SO, without further ado…
THE FIVE KEYS TO VICTORY
- KEEP UP WITH THE PACE OF PLAY – This offseason, Manny Diaz hired Rhett Lashley away from SMU to be the new offensive coordinator in Miami. Lashley brings a fast-paced attack, meant to disorient and keep defenses on their heels. UofL isn’t unfamiliar with this type of quick-hitting philosophy, as the Cards play Dino Babers’ Syracuse team every year. The Louisville defense will have to stay engaged and ready to play in between snaps, especially against the combination of pace of play AND an effective power running game. This is where Louisville’s emerging depth along the defensive front will play a massive role. In that vein, Malik Clark is still listed as the backup nose tackle. Hopefully he’s healthy and 100% against the Canes.
- CONTAIN D’ERIQ KING – Last week Louisville faced a dual-threat QB that frankly ended up being single-threat, as Tyrell Pigrome could not complete a pass to save his life. While the UofL pass defense looked solid for most of the game, there were a few plays that Pigrome should have been able to take advantage of open receivers and simply was not equipped. D’Eriq King should be able to exploit those situations where Pigrome could not. King should be familiar to most college football fans after enjoying success at Houston the last few years. While he didn’t throw the ball much last week (he really didn’t have to,) he has proven to be an able passer during his career, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards and 36 TDs (against only 6 interceptions) his junior year at Houston. The Cards did a good job against Pigrome, but still looked vulnerable at times against the QB run in the 2nd half. Monty Montgomery was very effective as a QB spy, keeping Pigrome in check and blitzing when it was clear he intended to throw. I have to expect the speedy Montgomery to be used similarly Saturday. In addition to King, Miami boasts a very talented backfield, led by Cam’Ron Harris. They can hurt you in many different ways. The Cards have to contain King and buck the 2019 trend of struggling against mobile signal-callers.
- TAKE CARE OF THE FOOTBALL – During the 2019 matchup, Louisville lost the football three times, two interceptions and one lost fumble, while forcing zero Miami turnovers. Last year’s game was just an all-around bad performance, and in many ways an anomaly. But there is absolutely no way the Cards can go minus three in the turnover column and expect to beat a talented Miami squad. While overall he played a very good game, Malik (Micale?) Cunningham threw a few passes that should have been picked (in addition to the one that was.) It seemed like he locked in on a receiver pre-snap a few times and didn’t go through his progressions. The Cards were also fortunate to recover a Cunningham fumble caused by a big hit in the end zone early in the game, and subsequently turn it into a 92-yard TD drive. Malik needs to stay sharp and the O-Line needs to keep his jersey clean. Bottom line.
- EXPLOIT MIAMI’S SECONDARY – Miami received the news mid-week that rotation corner Christian Williams entered the transfer portal. not ideal for a team that was already hurting for depth at the CB position. With Williams’ departure, the Canes are down to three experienced corners. This feels like the perfect opportunity for Cunningham to work out his extremely deep WR corps. Dez Fitzpatrick and, of course, Tutu Atwell were known commodities coming in to the 2020 football season. Last week Braden Smith introduced himself to the college football landscape with a four catch, 110-yard performance, including a 63-yard completion. Add to that mix Justin Marshall, Corey Reed, TE Marshon Ford, and Automatic Touchdown Machine Ean Pfeifer, and UofL should have success through the air on Saturday.
- MAKE SPECIAL TEAMS SPECIAL AGAIN – It’s never easy replacing long-time starters at kicker and punter, but that’s precisely what Louisville had to do this season with the graduation of Mason King and Blanton Creque. Life after King & Creque started off a bit…rocky to say the least. Logan Lupo fumbled the first snap of his career at punter, and a protection mistake led to a blocked punt in the second half. Those two plays led to two touchdown drives for Western, totaling five yards. Needless to say, that can’t happen against better teams like Miami. In addition to the punting game woes, Hassan Hall made an ill-advised decision to take a kickoff out of the end zone (directly following the first TD given up on the fumbled snap,) and the Cards were fortunate that WKU touched a late onside kick before it went ten yards. Basically it was not an ideal start for the entire special teams unit. Hopefully they can avoid a repeat and last week can be chalked up to first game jitters.
WHAT BISCUIT’S WATCHING
- Cam DeGeorge. I’ve been talking about DeGeorge and speculating where he would fit in the offensive line rotation a lot this offseason. The answer is he fits pretty much everywhere. He has emerged as the clear 6th lineman for the Cards, able to play both guard spots and tackle when needed. He was in for at least two of the 1st half TD drives (at two different positions) and seems to serve as a steadying influence on the line. I assumed a player with his experience would see the field. The depth he provides, along with the addition of Trevor Reid and the fact that the entire five man class red-shirted last year, were the reason I felt better about the depth and the overall potential of the offensive line this year. Even with the loss of Mekhi Becton and Tyler Haycraft.
- Speaking of the O-Line, after a rocky start I thought they settled in and played pretty well overall. I counted only one really good rep in the running game during the first quarter. But when the line hit their stride, the running game got going. And that early sack was the only one given up all game. Certainly room to improve, and they can’t afford another slow start against Miami, but overall a good start.
- Ean “Automatic Touchdown Machine” Pfeifer. Three career catches. Three career touchdowns. I never want this streak to end. Part of me hopes he drops all balls not in the red zone. I’m just kidding. Sort of.
- The linebackers. It was clear coming into the season that the linebacker position was the strength of the defense. Week one they did not disappoint. Louisville goes about six deep with legitimate playmakers, and they each seemed to have their moment against WKU. Dorian Etheridge, CJ Avery, Monty Montgomery, Rodjay Burns and company should all be in the mix again against Miami.
- Lamar. The man might have gotten better? I feel bad for the league. Also, he gets another crack at Deshaun Watson this weekend. Should be fun.
- Miami is making a change on the offensive line, which I found odd considering the success they had last week. Jakai Clark was a starter last season, so it’s not out of left field. But still noteworthy.
- Folks. It happened. Coach Ledford’s wife Meredith blessed me with her famous chocolate chip cookies. They were amazing. Key word “were.” They don’t exist anymore. Absolutely lived up to the hype, and I can’t thank her enough. Awesome lady, awesome family. You can see why the all the linemen love Momma Ledford.
- In news that have absolutely zero effect on this game, Tate Martell opted out of the 2020 season. What an odd career for the heralded recruit.
- The ACC as a whole caught a break when potential Top Ten pick Gregory Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season. But Temple transfer Quincy Roche leads a still-talented Miami defensive front. Should be a good follow-up test to DeAngelo Malone & Juwuan Jones.
- GAMEDAY! TO YOUR CITAYYY!
WHAT BISCUIT’S COOKING
Starting next week I will be sharing my weekly menu and pictures of the previous week’s creations. So, ya know, you’re welcome.
Miami is one of those peer level teams to Louisville this season, as in I can see the 2nd spot (with Clemson) in the ACC Championship game coming down to one of the following: Notre Dame, Miami, UNC, Va Tech, and UofL. Meaning Louisville absolutely has to beat them if they expect to contend for that spot. Winning this game could be the difference between finishing 2nd or finishing 5th.
I think both teams are going to move the ball and score, and Miami’s fast pace will lend itself to a high scoring affair. That being said, Louisville has to hold Miami to significantly less than the 337 yards rushing they gained last week. I expect it to be back and forth, with UofL’s defense making one more stop than Miami.
Louisville – 38 Miami – 34
Go Cards. Beat Miami.