LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Coming off of a much-needed bye week, Louisville (3-3, 1-2 ACC) is back at home in Cardinal Stadium to host Boston College (4-2, 0-2 ACC). Kickoff against the Eagles is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 23 at 4:00 p.m. EST.
Here are some of the more notable storylines heading into Saturday's game:
Louisville Looking to Bounce Back After Heartbreaking Losses
Louisville had a lot to think about during their midseason bye week. They entered the bye coming off back-to-back heartbreaking losses to Wake Forest and Virginia, one due to self-inflicted mistakes and a last-minute field goal, the other thanks to a complete meltdown in the fourth quarter.
Now, with the bye week is squarely in the rear view mirror, the Cardinals are switching gears back into game prep mode in hopes of getting back in the right direction against BC.
"I watched that game (NC State-Boston College) live Saturday night, good football game, two good teams, and actually our next two opponents," head coach Scott Satterfield said. "I think coach Hafley has done a really good job there, him and his staff. Their kids play hard at BC, they know what they want to do.
"We know we’re going to get a good football team. We’ve had back-to-back heartbreak losses, so we’re looking to bounce back, and get a win in a very competitive league" he said. "We’re looking forward to getting back out there and playing after this bye week.”8
Satterfield Acknowledges Defensive Schematic Failure vs. UVA, Open to Shift in Philosophy
Coming off of their bye week, Louisville had plenty of time to mull things over after the loss to Virginia - including looking back at the film, and possibly make changes going forward. Not bringing enough pressure was one thing Satterfield wishes Louisville had done differently.
"There are several things that, as coaches, you go back and watch to figure out what you want to do differently. I think that bringing pressure was the one thing we should have done more looking back to last week, instead of sitting back with the Virginia quarterback," Satterfield said. "Because if you give him time, it does not matter how many guys you drop into coverage, he is going to find somebody."
During the bye, Satterfield and his staff spent a lot of time analyzing how they can adjust the defense, and are trying to mix up their scheme from a situational standpoint. Bring more pressure? Play more coverage? Go with more man-to-man? Put more defensive backs or pass rushers on the field? They're looking at it all.
"You have to look at all those things, and we've started to look at those things defensively to try to figure out putting the best players in the best positions to make plays," he said. "Then scheme wise, what is going to give us the best chance to stop teams? We've started to look at all those, and hopefully we've come up with a better plan to go out there and slow down these offenses."
Bryan Brown, Louisville Defense Learning from Mistake Against UVA
The Cardinals entered the fourth quarter with a 30-13 advantage over the Cavaliers, but the defense proceeded to surrender 21 points, 206 yards and 10 first downs. Many were quick to single out defensive coordinator Bryan Brown as the one the bear the majority of the blame for the fourth quarter collapse.
Louisville brought a fair amount of pressure against UVA quarterback Brennan Armstrong throughout the first three quarters, only for Brown to opt for the more conservative three-man rush in the fourth - particularly on the final drive of the game. In hindsight, it's a decision he wishes he had not made.
"I wish I brought a little more pressure, especially on that last drive. We brought some pressure throughout the fourth quarter, but that last drive is what (Satterfield) was mainly talking about (earlier in the week)," he said. "Especially when the guys are backed up a little bit, and not just playing coverage."
Soon after the game ended, Brown didn't waste much time trying to move on. He went back and dissected the film on both the Sunday and Monday after the UVA game heading into the bye week, then had the players back at practice for the next three days.
"My dad always tells me, 'you're only as good as the last one'," he said. "But you have to learn from mistakes. Because if you don't learn from mistakes, it's just a mistake."
Phil Jurkovec Out, Dennis Grosel In
Like Louisville, Boston College has already experience bad injury luck. In just the second game of the year, starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec was lost for the season with a broken wrist.
Coming in his place over the last four games was backup Dennis Grosel, and he has done a solid job guiding the BC offense. While he only has 739 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions in four games since taking over the starter, he has experience against Louisville - throwing for two touchdowns last season after Jurkovec exited with an injury.
While the BC offense has become a lot more balanced since Grosel took over, preseason All-ACC wide receiver Zay Flowers is still a tremendous talent that the Louisville secondary will have to keep tabs on at all times.
"Zay Flowers is a big play threat guy," Satterfield said. "He’s a good receiver on the outside, they want to take shots with him for sure. You can double him, but he can still run by you, so you better be on point when you try to cover him."
A Return to Running the Football
In years past, Boston College made a name for themselves by a dedication to running the football. Since the injury to Jurkovec, the Eagles have once again put a focus on the ground game, and it's paying dividends.
A slight surprise for BC has been the emergence of running back Patrick Garwo. He has received the lion's share of the reps at running back so far this season and taken full advantage of it, amassing 519 yard and five touchdowns at the halfway point of the season.
Thanks to additional efforts from guys like Alec Sinkfield, Travis Leavy, and even Grosel at time, Boston College has averaged 170.8 rushing yards per game. In part, this is aided by what could very well be the best offensive line in the ACC.'
"They're surprisingly quick," Louisville defensive end Ashton Gillotte said. "Something that you don't normally see with a lineman, is lateral quickness. They can't usually adapt to speed, but they have an athletic offensive line, and they're strong."
Intriguing Eagles Defense Awaiting Louisville
When looking at the numbers, Boston College presents a peculiar defense. Despite ranking dead last in the ACC in both sacks and tackles for loss, the Eagles allow only 19.5 points and 329.8 yards per games, putting them in the top half of the league in both categories.
When looking at individual statistics, no one player separates themselves from the rest of the pack. Instead, every one puts forth a seemingly equal effort, and it shows up on the gridiron
"They keep everything in front of them. They are a one-high team and are playing a lot of man this year. During the Clemson game this year, they manned them up throughout the whole game. Their D-line gets after it, and they play hard," Satterfield said. "They make you make plays; they’re not going to give you anything and I think that’s the mark of a good defense."
Defensive lineman Donovan Ezeiruaku leads the charge with a team-best 3.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks, linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley has a team-best 38 tackles, and cornerback Josh DeBerry has two of BC's six interceptions.
(Photo of Boston College defensive line and Louisville offensive line: Winslow Townson - USA TODAY Sports)
You can follow Louisville Report for future coverage by liking us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram:
You can also follow Deputy Editor Matthew McGavic at @Matt_McGavic on Twitter