Louisville, BC hope to play better defense in their matchup

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville and Boston College are looking for improved defense performances after a couple of rough ACC outings.

The Cardinals (4-2, 1-2 ACC) seek a stiffer front than usual on Saturday against the Eagles (2-4, 0-3).

Louisville (4-2, 1-2 ACC) is coming off a 39-25 loss at No. 20 North Carolina State that knocked the Cardinals out of the Top 25 for the first time this season. Weeks after No. 2 Clemson rolled up 613 yards on Louisville in a 47-21 rout, the Cardinals yielded 520 to the Wolfpack, including 367 passing.

Though injuries have been a factor – linebacker Stacy Thomas’ sprained knee is the latest – Louisville coach Bobby Petrino believes his team needs to more aggressive.

”We’re not playing as fast and physical as you need to be,” the coach said this week. ”We haven’t been able to get people behind the sticks enough to be able to really tee off in pass rush.”

The Cardinals’ second conference loss was a big blow to their prospects of contending in the Atlantic Division, but half a season remains to get back in the mix. Reaching .500 in league play is a good start.

Boston College (2-4, 0-3) has had its own defensive struggles.

The Eagles are looking to rebound after allowing 431 yards in a 23-10 loss to No. 15 Virginia Tech . BC will try to do a better job this year of containing Louisville quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.

Last fall the junior QB accounted for seven touchdowns and 416 yards in three quarters during a 52-7 rout at BC. Jackson had three TDs last week at N.C. State, but was sacked four times and threw an interception that the Wolfpack returned for a clinching score.

Eagles coach Steve Addazio believes his team must similarly slow Jackson to avoid another blowout loss. That’s a huge challenge against a player and team eager to bounce back from a loss – on homecoming yet.

”I mean, it’s hard to defend that,” Addazio said of Jackson’s multiple talents. ”Who’s defended it? I’ve watched him against everybody, looked like he’s in the grass, then he’s out and he’s gone, or he’s flicking the ball down the field for a big play in the pass game.”

”Very, very difficult, and that’s what makes him so special.”

Here are some other things to watch as Boston College visits Louisville:

ZACH ATTACK: Boston College junior defensive end Zach Allen had a career-best 14 tackles at Virginia Tech and leads the Eagles with 55. He also has eight tackles for loss, four sacks and looks to pressure Jackson often in hopes of slowing him down. The Eagles have the ACC’s No. 3 pass defense, allowing 182 yards per contest.

BACKFIELD DEPTH: Jeremy Smith was the first Louisville running back to be sidelined, and now Malik Williams is out with a wrist injury. Senior Reggie Bonnafon is now tasked with getting the ground game going along with Trey Smith, Tobias Little and Dae Williams, who’s returning from a knee injury. Whether it’s individually or by committee, somebody must take the load off Jackson, who rushed for 73 of their 116 yards at N.C. State.

SERIES NUMBERS: Louisville leads the series 6-3, including 3-0 against BC since joining the ACC. Overall, the Cardinals have averaged 35.3 points in their wins over the Eagles and just eight points in their three defeats.

JERSEY HONORED: Louisville will honor the No. 24 jersey of defensive back Anthony Floyd, who holds the school career interceptions record with 18 from 1999-2002. Floyd’s total included 10 picks in 2000 that tied for the national lead.

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