Boston College-Louisville Preview
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville coach Bobby Petrino knows his team will need to play a complete game to be successful against a Boston College squad that doesn’t give much ground.
The Cardinals (2-4, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) led twice at No. 9 Florida State last weekend and were driving toward another touchdown before turnovers and breakdowns shifted momentum in their 41-21 loss. Louisville can’t afford those mistakes against the Eagles (3-4, 0-4), who enter Saturday’s game leading the nation in several defensive categories including yardage allowed (196.3 per game).
”They play physical and fast, (and) do a great job of tackling,” Petrino said this week of the Eagles. ”That’s certainly a challenge for us.”
Moving the ball figures to be a task with both defenses looking to bounce back from generous performances.
Despite yielding 532 yards in last week’s 34-17 loss to No. 6 Clemson, BC remains the nation’s stingiest defense. Until last week, no ACC opponent had gained more than 228 yards or 14 points against the Eagles.
A stout run defense allowing just 51.7 yards per game has helped BC, which looks to end a three-game losing streak. The Eagles’ task is slowing mobile Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, who leads Cardinals rushers with 467 yards and five TDs.
”He’s a real dual threat, and (if) you let him out of that pocket, and you’ve got a problem on your hands,” BC coach Steve Addazio said of Jackson. ”We’re preparing for him real hard.”
Louisville’s defense was effective against the Seminoles for two-plus quarters before the collapse that turned into a long day. FSU converted 8 of 14 third-down chances, held the ball for more than 34 minutes and gained 510 yards.
A week after allowing Seminoles tailback Dalvin Cook to dodge and break tackles, Louisville’s focus is wrapping up ball carriers and making sure they do so for 60 minutes.
”We’ve got to learn it takes four quarters,” Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. ”It also shows you there’s a small difference between being really, really good and not being where you want to be. You’ve got to make sure you hone in on your detail.”
Here are some other things to watch when Louisville hosts Boston College:
YOUNG QUARTERBACKS: The game features a couple of freshman signal-callers in BC’s Jeff Smith and Louisville’s Jackson. Smith (266 yards rushing, 4 TDs) has shared time with Troy Flutie (Doug’s nephew) since Darius Wade sustained a season-ending ankle injury against FSU but played the whole game against Clemson. Jackson is coming off career passing bests of 307 yards and three TDs at FSU.
CARDINALS LINEBACKERS: Louisville outside linebacker Keith Brown was ejected from last week’s game for targeting and must sit out the first half. Junior Trevon Young is listed as the backup and will likely start in his place. Middle linebacker Keith Kelsey has gone through concussion protocols this week but is expected to play.
ABOUT THOSE DEFENSES: Besides total and run defense, Boston College ranks second in first downs allowed with 80 and fourth in scoring at 11.0 points per game. Louisville had its 21-game turnover streak snapped at FSU but is tied for 38th nationally with 12 takeaways.
MILESTONE NEAR: Louisville junior receiver James Quick had 130 yards and a career-high three TDs against FSU, putting him within 100 yards of breaking 1,000 career. He leads Louisville with 271 yards and four TDs on 16 receptions and has caught 12 passes for 243 yards and all of his scores over the past three games. He missed losses to Houston and Clemson after injuring his ankle in the season opener against Auburn.
Freelancer Josh Abner in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report.
AP College Football: www.collegefootball.ap.org