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Know Thy Enemy: Previewing the Louisville Cardinals

Getting an in-depth preview from Matt McGavic, beat writer who covers the Louisville Cardinals

To help prepare for Saturday's matchup between the Boston College Eagles and Louisville Cardinals we spoke with Matt McGavic of the Louisville Report about UL. Check out his answers below. Make sure to follow Matt on Twitter to get his analysis of everything Louisville

BC Bulletin: Turnovers were a huge issue for Louisville in 2020, but they have improved drastically this year, what changed?

Matt McGavic: Most of the turnovers from last season came from quarterback Malik Cunningham. While there were many extremely fluky interceptions, Cunningham and the coaching staff made a concerted effort to help improve his pocket passing and go through his reads. On top of that, the staff ran what they called a "turnover gauntlet" over the offseason, specifically with the intention to limit these instances. Cunningham is doing much better when it comes to his decision making through the air and tucking the ball as a runner. Although there is still a *slight* issue with fumbles among other ballcarriers so far this season, it's a far cry from last year.

BC Bulletin: Malik Cunningham was called a potential "ACC MVP" by Jeff Hafley earlier this week, what makes him so dangerous?

Matt McGavic: As previously, he spent a lot of time over the offseason to improve his efforts as a pocket passer. So far, it's paying off. He trusts his offensive line (which might be one of the more underrated lines in the ACC), and he has built a solid rapport with a relatively inexperienced wide receiver group. What really makes a difference is he is playing exceptionally well as runner. He is no longer just taking off just to take off, and is being incredibly decisive as to when to run, but what rushing lanes and angles to take in the process. Put that together, and you have an incredibly deadly player.


BC Bulletin: The Cardinals have played a difficult schedule so far, what has stuck out to you over the first six games? Has the team met expectations?

Matt McGavic: Before the season, many thought this would be a 6-6 team, maybe 7-5 with an 8-4 ceiling. At face value, with Louisville being 3-3, you would think they would be meeting expectations. But they are not, and that's mainly because of how they got there. Over the course of six games, Louisville has yet to put together a complete football game. They will look like they could beat anybody in one quarter, but then look like they could lose to UMass in the next one. The offense had struggles at first, but so far, have really come together over the last four games. On the other side of the line of scrimmage, the defense has, surprisingly, been a massive disappointment.

BC Bulletin: The defense has struggled both against the pass and rush, where are these issues coming from?

Matt McGavic: Where haven't the issues come from? Every level of the defense has been disappointing in some regard. The defensive line has struggled through most of the year to generate any sort of push, not to mention that Bryan Brown has an affinity to use the three-man rush in situations that don't call for it. The leading sack artist from last season, inside linebacker Monty Montgomery, suffered a torn ACL against UCF, and replacing him has been a struggle. Plus, the secondary has been so abysmal that they make any wideout look like 7/11 - always open. Guys like Yasir Abdullah, Ashton Gillotte, Kei'Trel Clark and Jack Fagot have played really well, but most guys beyond them have not.

BC Bulletin: The Cardinals X factor has been?

Matt McGavic: On offense, it would have to be tight end Marshon Ford. He has been a bit streaky this year, but unsurprisingly, he has been Louisville's leading receiver so far. Not to mention that he's a good blocker. Over on defense, it would be too easy to say Kei'Trel Clark - who has the most NFL draft stock on this squad, so I'm going to go with outside linebacker Yasir Abdullah. He is without a doubt Louisville's best pass rusher, and when he gets going, it's really hard to slow him down.