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Louisville Defense Puts Together Complete Effort in Win Over Boston College

A unit that had been struggling all season, the defensive side of the ball for Louisville kicked off the second half of the season with their best performance of the year against Boston College.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In the first half of the 2021 season, Louisville's defense was not exactly playing sharp football.

In fact, you could have made a case that the Cardinals boasted the ACC's worst defense. They surrendered a league-worst 449.3 yards per game through the first seven weeks, as well as 298.8 passing yards per game - the sixth-highest mark in all of FBS.

Momentum wasn't exactly swinging in their direction, either. In their two games before the midseason bye week, against Wake Forest and Virginia, Louisville gave up a combined 67 points and over 1,000 total yards of offense.

But when the defense took the field of Cardinal Stadium to begin the second half of the season against Boston College, they put together their best performance of the season to help fuel a Louisville victory.

Facing an Eagles offense that was averaging 388.8 yards and 30.8 points per game, the Cardinals held them to just 266 yards and 14 points. It was Louisville's best defensive outing on the year against an FBS opponent, and Boston College's worst yardage output against a Power Five team so far this season.

"I was really proud of our defense tonight," head coach Scott Satterfield said. "Offensively, we put those guys in some tough situations, but they kept rising up, essentially gave up two drives, the first drive and then the drive there in the second half. I’m extremely proud of those guys."

Part of the success on the night was the defensive efficiency on third and fourth down. After giving up a combined 22 over the past two games against Wake Forest and Virginia, Louisville held BC to just 4-14 on third down and 1-3 on fourth down.

During these situations, unlike against Virginia where they opted for a conservative approach more often than not, Louisville threw the kitchen sink at BC quarterback Dennis Grosel. Defensive coordinator dialed up blitz call after blitz call, and for the most part, it worked.

While running backs Pat Garwo and Alec Sinkfield combined for 139 yards and a touchdown, Grosel finished the night with only 141 yards on 17-32 passing.

"We want to find the happy medium, but tonight, we wanted to be aggressive," Satterfield said. "We knew we had to stop the run, and that was a big thing that we were worried about, so we wanted to get a lot of guys around the box to stop the run. Since we were there, every now and again we wanted to keep bringing some pressure with them."

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What was perhaps the most encouraging part about the performance, is that it was the defense's most complete effort so far this season, playing consistently throughout all four quarters.

While Louisville did give up a late fourth quarter touchdown to pull Boston College within a score, the defense responded on their next and final drive, coming up with a forced fumble and recovery to ice the game. In the nine drives prior to BC's final touchdown, Louisville had forced six punts, two interceptions, and a turnover on downs.

"I think our coaches did a great job last week," Satterfield said. "Obviously, if you're hearing it for two weeks that you're not very good on defense, you want to do something about it."

And do something about it, they did. Granted, BC runs a completely different offense than what Louisville has faced all season. Grosel has routinely struggled to establish any sort of deep passing game, forcing the Eagles to transition to a run-first offense after starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec went down early in the year.

Regardless, Louisville is still going to capitalize on the defensive momentum from this game. Especially with the amount of young players who stepped up to make plays. Safety Josh Minkins' had a critical endzone interception, defensive end Ryheem Craig notched his first career sack, and linebacker Dorian Jones stepped up with five tackles and a sack in place of the injured Monty Montgomery.

"I think this is what we can be," Satterfield said. "We have to continue to get better, we have to develop, and these young guys are starting to make plays which is awesome. I think obviously they're going to keep getting better."

(Photo of Louisville players: Cindy Rice Shelton - Louisville Report)

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