Welcome back to what would normally be Biggest Biscuit’s Five Keys To Victory! Tom Farmer’s covering for Mr. Biscuit this week, so strap yourselves in and prepare for some completely underwhelming analysis.
But even if you’re stuck with me for the moment, there’s still plenty to be happy about. The Cardinals now sit at 3-2 (1-1 ACC) having exorcised the demons of 2018 while picking up their first conference win in just under two years. I don’t know about you, but in my life I’ve tended to advance the most after I’ve crossed the goal line and the pressure drops away. And so the Cards travel to Winston-Salem in a bid to exercise the Deacons. Get it?
Keys To Victory
1. Don’t Miss, Don’t Get Busted
Bryan Brown’s press availability on Wednesday was filled with plenty of acronyms. My suggestion that he should start making up a few to throw people off landed a bit flat but that’s besides the point. MAs and RPOs were the abbreviated words of the day. Y’all are smart so you already know, but for the uninitiated those would be missed assignments and the run-pass option. Under the capable management of Wake Forest QB Jamie Newman the Demon Deacons offense has proven to be the best in the ACC and one of the best in the country. As for Louisville, essentially every game has seen an incidence of busted coverage. And in situations like at Florida State, those have been game-killers. Mark your assignments, hit the gaps, and don’t overthink things. Sure, the RPO looks fancy, but it’s a shell game. Keep your eye on the ball.
2. Box Stretching (cont.)
As Biscuit pointed out last week, Louisville opponents have not presented anything close to an unbeatable secondary. Malik Cunningham should be under center to start on Saturday, and we’ll need a bit more of the passing wherewithal he displayed against Boston College. Against the Golden Eagles we also saw the expanded wide receiver corps show its capabilities. Just as with last Saturday we should be seeing plenty of open downfield opportunities, and Malik (and Evan) have demonstrated the ability to hit those open targets. Wake Forest is going to put points on the board, and it will be crucial to match them blow-for-blow.
3. Calm, Cool, Collected Defense
The RPO is one of those things that seems scarier than it actually is. Now, I’m not saying it’s no big deal as it’s anything but. And especially when you have an imposing and capable figure in the person of Jamie Newman behind the line you’re talking about a rough time. But mental acuity and avoidance of mistakes are the point of emphasis that Scott Satterfield continually brings up. It’s not awesome that he continually has to bring it up, but each week we’ve seen a slight improvement. Against the RPO it’s easy to fall into the trap of biting too early and suddenly the receiver or rusher is 10 yards behind you and your pants have fallen down for some reason and everyone’s laughing at you. It doesn’t have to be that way, I guarantee you. The Wake Forest offense is lightning fast, but counter-intuitively the solution is to slow yourself down and allow the play to come to you.
4. Ball Handling
I know, a bit lame. This is one of those keys to victory that you can lather, rinse, repeat. But when you’re in the crucible at the end of a two-point game and you’re dropping hand-offs then it’s something you want to focus on. This is especially crucial against a team like Wake Forest that makes few mistakes.
I don’t think a lack of aggression is a problem for this Cardinals squad, but you have to pounce on every opportunity against a team that’s the least penalized in the nation. Wake Forest is not going to gift-wrap anything for you and so you absolutely have to go out there and take it. In terms of pass rush, you cannot give Jamie Newman the time he needs to make the decisions because he has demonstrated a keen ability to find the gaps in coverage. De l’audace, encore de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace.