Points of Emphasis: Louisville vs. Miami


After opening up the season with a 35-21 win over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, the No. 18 Louisville Cardinals (1-0, 0-0 ACC) are now set to begin their 10-game conference slate against the No. 17 Miami Hurricanes (1-0, 0-0 ACC) this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Here are some of the more notable storylines heading into Saturday's game:

National Spotlight

Following its season-opening win against Western Kentucky, Louisville received a No. 18 ranking from the Associated Press to jump back into the national polls for the first time since 2017. With Miami also landing inside the top 20, ESPN made the call to send College GameDay to the Derby City for the upcoming ranked matchup at Cardinal Stadium.

"Yeah, it's pretty cool," Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield said. "You think about when I got hired here where we were at program-wise and what everybody wrote about us and what everybody thought about us nationally. To come about a year and a half later we're ranked and College GameDay is going to be here. I mean, that's pretty incredible."

"Anytime a national spotlight is on you, the world is looking at you to see what type of team you have," defensive coordinator Bryan Brown said. "We're excited about the challenge, but we're also excited about the opportunity for the world to be able to see us play on a national stage."

Redemption & Revenge

All the increase in national attention isn't the only motivating factor for the Cardinals heading into this game. Down at Hard Rock Stadium last season, Miami dealt Louisville a 52-27 loss—the Cards' second-worst in-conference loss by point differential, behind only their 45-10 loss to eventual national runner-up Clemson.

"Obviously you still have that lingering in your mind from last year," senior center Cole Bentley said. "That's kind of something that people still talk about is last year how the game kind of ran away from us. So this year we kind of feel motivated to play better and just have a better game overall."

Louisville's players and coaches want to put the memories of last year's game squarely behind them and use the rematch as a springboard to have a better 2020 campaign.

"It's like a revenge game for us," defensive lineman Tabarius Peterson said. "If we stick together and play together, we can dominate and this year should be a great year for us—a great season."

Signal Caller Standoff

Louisville's Micale Cunningham is not the only high-profile quarterback that will set foot on the gridiron this Saturday.

Over the offseason, D'Eriq King decided to leave the University of Houston as a graduate transfer and don the Orange and Green. In 34 games as a Cougar, he amassed 6,346 yards of total offense, threw 50 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions and rushed for an additional 28 more scores.

"What they've done adding King to their offense is dynamic," defensive coordinator Bryan Brown said. "He's a young football player that can throw the throw the football deep, short, as well as run with his legs. That puts a lot of pressure on the defense."

Revamped Running Game

Last season, Miami was not known much for its ability to run the football, as the Hurricanes averaged just 118.1 yard per game on the ground.

In their season-opening 31-14 win over the UAB Blazers, the rushing game was the primary catalyst, as the 'Canes accumulated 337 rushing yards. RB Cam'Ron Harris led the charge with 134 yards and two scores on 17 attempts, with King chipping in 83 yards and a touchdown on the ground on 12 attempts.

"That run game is awesome," Brown said. "Those guys do a great job up front of opening holes for their three dynamic backs that they have. We have to do a great job of having gap integrity."

Pedal to the Metal

Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee came over from SMU to join Miami in the offseason, and brought his up tempo offensive system with him. In his 'Canes debut, the team ran 78 offensive plays—well over its 64.9 average in 2019.

"It presents a challenge for any defense when a team goes really, really fast," Brown said. "It challenges your stamina, it challenges your mental capacity, you know, can you think at a fast pace when things are flying and going really, really fast."

While it's hard for the Cardinals to simulate game reps in a practice setting, especially for an offense like Miami's, Brown notes that the scout team has done an "excellent job" during the week leading up to the game, and that the players have been "responding very well" to the uptick in tempo.

Another Test on the Line

One week removed from lining up against DeAngelo Malone and Juwuan Jones, the Cardinals will have to face another set of high-caliber defensive ends in Quincy Roche and Jaelan Phillips.

"They are extremely talented," offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford said. "I don't think that you can look anywhere on their depth chart and point out somebody and say 'here's where we're going to try to attack'."

Roche and Phillips give Miami great length on the edge at 6-4 & 6-5 respectively, but the 'Canes also have mass in the middle. Defensive tackles Jonathon Ford and Nesta Jade Silvera both weigh well over 300 pounds, giving Miami size everywhere on the line.

Not only does Miami have size where it counts, but defensive coordinator Blake Baker knows how to use it to his advantage.

"It's just a disruptive defense, and I think they do a really good job schematically with changing a lot of their looks and a lot of their pressures," Ledford said

"I think they're the only defense that we play that really has a tilted shade," Bentley added. "That comes with it's own pros and cons and stuff you gotta be prepared for."

You can follow us for future coverage by clicking "Follow" on the top righthand corner of the page. Also be sure to like us on Facebook & Twitter:

Facebook - @LouisvilleOnSI

Twitter - @LouisvilleOnSI and Matthew McGavic at @GeneralWasp