Location: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium
CARDMARCH: 5:15 p.m.
Game Time: 7:30 p.m.
Line: Clemson -6
Series History: Clemson leads 1-0
Last Time: Clemson 23, Louisville 17
THE GAME IS A BLACKOUT
The game is a sellout through the box office but there are tickets available in the secondary market. The Houston game also sold out and the Cards have had a string of sellouts dating back several years.
The game is a BLACKOUT and fans are encouraged to wear black to match the team’s CHROMEVILLE jersey kit that Adidas announced in late August.
CardMarch will happen in its usual location from Central through the tunnel & into Gate 4. Gate 4 will remain open but fans who typically use Gate 4 that require ADA entrances will need to utilize Gates 3 or Gate 5 from the South during the 2015 season as the Thornton’s Academic Center for Excellence Construction is under construction and pathways will be a compacted gravel surface. All entrances EXCEPT Gate 4 will be available for patrons who need assistance.
Additionally, PJCS will continue to provide golf carts in the Green & Bronze lots to & from the stadium. Fans who require assistance should make their way to the West drive lane of the Green/Bronze lots to find the Accessibility Shuttle Service. After the game, the Shuttle Service will assist patrons at Gate 5.
The broadcast will be available on Louisville Sports Properties and the Tune In Mobile App. The legendary voice of the Cards Paul Rogers will provide play-by-play with Craig Swabek providing color and Doug Ormay from the sideline.
On Television the game will be broadcast by ESPN and will be available through its WATCHESPN (ESPN3) properties. Joe Tessitor will provide play-by-play, Jesse Palmer & David Pollack will add analysis, and Kaylee Hartung will be on the sideline.
From the ACC Digital Network
|Scoring Offense (ppg)||27.5 (80th)||45.0 (20th)|
|Total Offense (ypg)||400.0 (77th)||462.5 (47th)|
|Passing Offense (ypg)||246.0 (57th)||281.5 (36th)|
|Rushing Offense (ypg)||154.0 (85th)||181.00 (68th)|
|Scoring Defense (ppg)||32.5 (98th)||10.0 (12th)|
|Total Defense (ypg)||394.5 (77th)||255.5 (19th)|
|Passing Defense (ypg)||186.5 (53rd)||92.5 (4th)|
|Rushing Defense (ypg)||208.00 (106th)||163.00 (76th)|
|Punt Returns (ypr)||12.00 (38th)||1.33 (113th)|
|Kickoff Returns (ypr)||19.20 (88th)||43.67 (5th)|
|Opponent Punt Returns (ypr)||-2.00 (4th)||1.25 (22nd)|
|Opponent Kickoff Returns (ypr)||30.29 (124th)||23.75 (104th)|
|Punting (ypp)||43.43 (41st)||39.60 (90th)|
|Field Goal %||40.00% (112th)||66.67% (73rd)|
|Opponent Field Goal %||60.00% (37th)||100% (77th)|
|First Downs (per game)||26 (21st)||24.5 (33rd)|
|Opponent First Downs (per game)||23.0 (95th)||10.5 (5th)|
|Penalties (ypg)||57.5 (64th)||65.0 (85th)|
|Turnover Margin (season)||-2 (96th)||0 (58th)|
|Time of Possession||28:47.5 (79th)||29:09.5 (75th)|
|Sacks (per game)||1.00 (99th)||1.00 (99th)|
|Sacks Allowed (per game)||3.00 (113th)||2.50 (99th)|
|Tackles for Loss (per game)||4.50 (100th)||10.0 (7th)|
|Tackles for Loss Allowed (per game)||7.00 (101st)||4.00 (24th)|
|Interceptions (season)||4 (7th)||3 (18th)|
|Passes Defended (per game)||6.00 (19th)||4.00 (59th)|
|Fumbles Recovered (season)||NA||1 (48th)|
|Fumbles Forced (season)||NA||NA|
|Fumbles Lost (season)||3 (107th)||2 (83rd)|
|Kicks/Punts Blocked (season)||NA||NA|
|3rd Down Conversions (%)||48.15% (27th)||46.67% (31st)|
|Opponent 3rd Down Conversions (%)||46.88% (114th)||21.88% (15th)|
|4th Down Conversions (%)||100% (1st)||100% (1st)|
|Opponent 4th Down Conversions (%)||50.0% (47th)||25.00% (19th)|
|Red Zone Conversions (%)||72.73% (102nd)||71.43% (104th)|
|Opponent Red Zone Conversions (%)||80.0% (51st)||100% (97th)|
|RedZone TD Conversions (%)||63.64% (55th)||71.43% (36th)|
|Opponent Red Zone TD Conversions (%)||60% (75th)||50% (42nd)|
|Kickoffs (ypk)||63.80 (49th)||62.06 (81st)|
|Plays||152 (44th)||155 (38th)|
|Yards Per Play||5.26 (91st)||5.97 (63rd)|
At this point, it’s hard to pick the Cards. Louisville’s youth has showed in its first two games of the year resulting in an 0-2 start. The most disappointing thing was the performance from the defense vs. Houston and the lack of tackling as most everyone expected offensive struggles even without the absence of James Quick, Jamari Staples and Alphonso Carter. Still Louisville has lost two games by a total of 10 points….and that is something to take into account here.
The Cards haven’t lost to bad football teams. Have they made bad mistakes? Yes. But none of Louisville’s losses thus far can be characterized as a lack of talent. The Cards just lack a lot of experience offensively and the defense certainly has been challenged to get back to tackling and playing Louisville caliber defense in this short week. Can Louisville play a turnover free game? Will Louisville’s Defense show some pride on a nationally televised ESPN Thursday Night match-up?
Of course we also know that Clemson lost a TON from the nation’s best defense a year ago and the Tigers have also really had some tough personnel losses from the beginning of Fall Camp. Those injuries continued this week with an injury to its starting center Ryan Norton, though Clemson fans are excited about Jay Guillermo getting the start. Also Clemson has played Wofford & Appalachian State. So it’s clear as to why we know a lot more about Louisville after facing Auburn and Houston than we do so far about Clemson. But the Tigers are the #11 (AP) team in the country for a reason. Much of that comes from it defensive reputation coupled with one of the best QBs in the country.
There isn’t a lot of evidence to support a Cardinal victory here. Clemson is an extremely dangerous team in the kick return game and the Cards just gave up a 100-yarder vs. Houston, but the Tigers also are susceptible to the big return as well. John Wallace has struggled with his field goals and that will turn around as he is too good of a kicker for this to continue, while Clemson is ‘so so’ in its field goal game so far this year carrying over from an OK 2014.
While there isn’t a great deal going for Louisville statistically, I’m still going to pick them to beat Clemson. In terms of style the Clemson offense is exactly what Louisville designs it defense around with the way the defense has been lambasted for its performance on Saturday I think the Cards come out with a big effort defensively. There is too much talent to not perform. Offensively the game plan has to be to protect the football. 4 turnovers vs. Houston lost by 3, 2 vs. Auburn lost by 7. Louisville will try to run the ball against a new front unit and if they are as successful as I believe they will be, Louisville can control the game on the ground and with defense.
I have no evidence to support this pick, but I do believe Louisville will find a way to win the game and flip the season. Sometimes you just have to have faith on a Thursday Night at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Louisville 24, Clemson 20
Louisville Offense vs. Clemson Defense
Last year, the Cards struggled to move the ball. James Quick’s 73-yard catch to flip the field accounted for nearly 28% of Louisville’s offense on the day in which UofL ran 68 plays and gained just 264 yards. The Cards had 4 fumbles on the day, 2 that were lost, and one that was a score on a sack fumble from Reggie Bonnafon. Most of Louisville’s yards came through the air as UofL averaged just 1.4 yards per rushing attempt. Briefly: It was a rough day for the Louisville offense.
In fact, when the game came down to its final play defensive coordinator Brent Venables discussed in post-game how he had recognized the final play as a “go-to” play from watching tape of Petrino’s offenses from Western Kentucky during the off-season. As bad as things went for the Cards offensively they still had a chance to win on the road in Death Valley. And that’s really the message and tone that we at TheCrunchZone.com are taking in Petrino’s likely approach to this weekend.
Louisville couldn’t run the ball last year vs. Clemson and they had a terrible time protecting the football as well (and special teams, but we’ll get to that later). Thus far in 2015 the Cards have had its Quarterback position up in the air since the very first snap. Versus Clemson, Petrino is likely to go with the signal caller that protects the football the best. No matter which ‘person’ trots out at QB for UofL on Thursday night, his charge will be to move the offense effectively without interceptions or fumbles. Turnovers have killed Louisville so far in 2015 as the Cards have lost 6 in two games and rank 111th (of 128th) in the country in lost turnovers. Clemson on the other hand has gained 4 turnovers and ranks 29th! If Louisville hopes to win on Thursday, it must protect the ball.
Clemson was the best defense in football last year. After two games vs. over-matched opponents the numbers are still holding strong with a host of Top Rankings in several statistical categories. Clemson’s defensive line was a problem last year and the Tigers return very little production from a year ago. Venables will lean on Shaq Lawson (6-3, 270) to lead a bunch of youngsters who don’t have a great deal of experience. If Louisville can do any better than its 1.4 yards per carry than a year ago then that is a positive sign. Louisville’s young offensive line has made some progress against some stiff competition, while Clemson has done quite well against teams that it puts away early in match-ups. At linebacker Ben Boulware really emerged towards the end of 2014 and had a great game vs. the Cards. Going by stats for Clemson can be mis-leading considering the scores at halftime.
Also, neither Wofford or Appalachian State were tests through the air for the Tigers. Clemson is 4th in the country in pass defense despite winning both of its games by a combined total of 70 points. That should tell you that even with big deficits neither team really felt confident throwing against Clemson. Perhaps that’s more on Clemson’s opponents than Clemson itself, but Mackensie Alexander (5’11, 195, Soph.) is one of the best corners in the league and Jayron Kearse (6-5, 220, Jr) already made a tremendous play running down James Quick last year in the final moments.
Louisville has several wide receivers that will be OUT vs. Clemson. Jamari Staples and Alphonso Carter have yet to see action for the Cards in 2015 and James Quick is OUT from his low ankle injury that he incurred during the Auburn game. Instead, Louisville will be going with a host of new & young players: Ja’Quay Savage, Jaylen Smith, Traveon Samuel, Devante Peete, Emonee Spence, Javonte Bagley and Dontez Byrd. Even the young tight ends, Micky Crum, Cole Hikutini & Charles Standberry will mix in with veteran Keith Towbridge. What Louisville lacks in experience it has in talent and the good news is that talent has been in some really tough early battles.
Louisville’s offense isn’t going to suddenly EXPLODE into Bobby Petrino’s signature offense from 2004. It’s going to take time for it to evolve. Clemson has lost a great deal of talent from a year ago and is largely untested. Don’t look for either side to completely dominate the other, but also don’t be surprised if Louisville uses a conservative approach if it can frustrate Deshaun Watson defensively like it did a year ago. Expect that the Cards will attempt to establish a running game early and often. If UofL can get some headway on the ground then we may have a ball game. Who Louisville brings in a QB to start the game may not be who finishes and the expectation should be that unless things are going really well that someone else will be tried. Could it be Will? Could it be Reggie? Lamar? Kyle? Absolutely. But Petrino will likely want to “PROTECT THE FOOTBALL” and not give Clemson and its talented Quarterback easy money on the other side.
Clemson Offense vs. Louisville Defense
Clemson is employing a new offensive coordinator in 2015 after Chad Morris departed to SMU. Morris was replaced by Jeff Scott (WR coach) and Tony Elliott (RB Coach). Jeff Scott has been at Clemson since 2008 as the Wide Receivers coach and this is his first season as an offensive coordinator. Tony Elliott has been coaching Running Backs at Clemson since 2011 and this is also his first season as an offensive coordinator. Elliott & Scott also both played Wider Receiver for the Tigers. The two coordinators will face off versus Todd Grantham, an experienced Defensive Coordinator from both the NFL & College, but whose defense probably just put up its worst effort in Grantham’s 15-game tenure with the Cards.
Deshaun Watson is back as a sophomore and was voted to be the ACC Player of the Year in the Preseason. Watson (6’2, 210) had perhaps his worst outing last year vs. Louisville before leaving with a hand injury that caused him to miss several more games. Watson looked like a freshman last year vs. UofL, but so far this year Watson has completed 77.1% of his passes for 442 yards in two blowout wins vs. over-matched opponents. Watson was terrific last year vs. South Carolina, NC State, North Carolina and Florida State. A year later Watson is supposed to be even better. Thursday Night on ESPN vs. what is supposed to be a good Cardinal defense should provide Deshaun with the stage to jump start his sophomore year.
For the Cards Watson is mobile, but Clemson doesn’t really ask him to do much running for yardage. Deshaun is more mobile in the pocket with passing as a first option. If anything, he’s absolutely nothing like Houston’s Greg Ward, Jr……and that’s good because we established that Louisville can’t tackle Greg Ward, Jr. Louisville is going to have to honor Watson’s threat through the air, but this is at least the style of QB that Todd Grantham has built Louisville’s defense around to stop. Stopping Clemson, however, will be another matter.
Clemson has always scored points under Dabo Swinney. With a QB like Watson that’s unlikely to change. Louisville needs to get back to TACKLING ball carriers and try and duplicate what worked last year vs. Watson and make Deshaun demonstrate that he’s grown in reading defenses and go from there. Fans should expect a lot of pressure from its defense and Clemson will likely counter with throws to the outside.
The Tiger’s biggest threat in the passing game was Mike Williams who suffered a neck injury in the opener vs. Wofford in a scary scene after the WR hit the giant Clemson goal post in the endzone. Williams is out vs. the Cards and in his replacement guys like Artvais Scott (5’11, 190, Soph), Ray-Ray McCloud (5’10, 180 Fr.), Charone Peake (6-3, 215, Sr.) are filling in replacement. Clemson of course has other weapons as spreading the ball around is a Tiger philosophy. Louisville is going to have to be SOUND while maintaining pressure. This isn’t going to be a game where Louisville can afford to have breakdowns in coverage OR where it can have lackluster tackling.
Against the run Louisville hasn’t been great in 2015. Let’s just be honest. Things don’t look to get better against Wayne Gallman (6-1, 215, Soph) who has 29 carries for 171 yards (just 1 negative yard on the season) in two routs thus far in 2015. Gallman was a great back as well in 2014. Clemson’s rushing attack and pace is much more traditional, but if Louisville doesn’t line up and tackle Gallman will have a field day.
Overall, Louisville’s defense is being challenged to play up to its potential. If they do basic things, like tackle, then Todd Grantham might be able to call some of his more exotic blitz packages and get the Cards off the field on 3rd down. Louisville is currently 114th in Defensive 3rd Downs……a year ago the Cards were 10th. That is a HUGE swing. If UofL gets back to playing Cardinal defense then the Cards have a chance to beat the Tigers. If not, get ready for a long night (year).
Welcome Clemson Fans to Louisville & The $2 Bill Tradition
There are some outstanding fan experiences in college football. The warmth and welcoming nature of Clemson fans to their opponents is near the top. Here at TheCrunchZone.com we’ve met some great fan bases (Kansas State & Notre Dame were also outstanding) and we’ve met some horrendous fan bases (looking at you West Virginia). But there probably isn’t a more friendly & fun experience for Louisville fans to travel to than Clemson. And now it’s time for Cardinal fans to return the favor.
In some more scary environments (again WVU) it’s really not advisable to wear Cardinal red. At Clemson, YOU SHOULD TOTALLY WEAR CARDINAL RED. “Welcome to Clemson” and the red carpet is rolled out for visitors who make the trip to Death Valley. Tailgate invitations are aplenty, drinks are offered, food is served…..fans must find it difficult to actually arrive at any planned event because so many different tailgates will stop and interact with opposing fans.
And that’s totally how this alumnus of the University of Louisville wants Clemson fans treated during their entire trip to Louisville (a bunch arrive today) and during their time at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Be LOUD and cheer for your team, but return the favor of a great experience in Clemson from a year earlier. Clemson fans were fantastic a year ago and Tiger Fans should leave the Ville with the same experience. Great football, Great fans.
That’s my challenge today & tomorrow. Invite anyone wearing Orange (Louisville fans you should be wearing BLACK, it is a BLACKOUT) to your tailgate. “Welcome to Louisville” should be followed by a beverage offering followed by whatever fare your tailgate is enjoying. So tomorrow while you are packing for your tailgate, throw a few extra cold ones in the cooler because it’s your chance to represent UofL in the most positive way imaginable. Win or lose invite those same folks back and make a plan to meet back up with them a year later in South Carolina.
The $2 Bill Tradition
Clemson fans travel. And when they arrive in the various cities during the course of a season they leave their mark financially by paying with various services with a $2 Bill with an Orange Tiger Paw stamped on it.
This comes from 1977 when Georgia Tech decided to stop playing football against the Tigers. Clemson fans sought out the rarely used currency and stamped the bill with a Tiger Paw to demonstrate the economic impact of Clemson fans traveling into Atlanta.
Today the tradition lives on with Clemson fans who are traveling to Tiger’s away games routinely gather $2 bills (sometimes months in advance) and stamp them with a Tiger Paw. For bowl season local banks in the Clemson area actually stock up on the bills because so many Tiger fans are headed to the bowl.
So if you see some $2 Bills around town or work in a service industry and receive a $2 bill with a Tiger Paw stamped on it, that’s a Clemson Tradition and the Tigers’ way of leaving their mark.
Last’s Year’s Full Game
Louisville allowed no offensive TDs. Clemson scored a TD on its first touch of the football on a punt return. Clemson was not a good punt return team in 2014. Clemson also forced a sack/fumble on Reggie Bonnafon for a TD. Of course everyone remembers the final sequence of the James Quick long reception and getting chased down and the spike on 3rd down.
Clemson & Louisville both put on a defensive display last year. Deshaun Watson was also injured in this game and had to miss a few weeks as a result. Great game, great crowd. Cards came up short.
Pre-Game Interviews/Media Sessions
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