The Cardinals will suit up in all black for a Friday night showdown against the Blue Devils of Duke University. The Cards are coming off a bye week, and before that a loss in an instant classic against Clemson. With the week off for rest and recovery the Cards look to bounce back against an opponent that doesn’t match-up well.
Knowing the Blue Devils Duke (3-3, 0-2 ACC) comes to Louisville after a 13-6 win against Army in a heavy downpour from the remains of Hurricane Matthew. It’s hard to look in depth at the game as the heavy rain altered the game, evident by Duke’s 16 total pass attempts compared to their season average of 38. Rain or shine though, Duke is going to run the ball. Jela Duncan and Shaun Wilson are the two main RB's splitting carries and QB Daniel Jones adds his own attempts, each averaging 10 carries per game. Duncan is the leader of the three averaging 5.4 yards a carry for 354 yards on the season.
Duke’s aerial threat comes from T.J. Rahming and Anthony Nash, the latter averaging 14 yards a catch. Jones isn’t afraid to spread the ball though as seven different receivers have touchdowns on the season. That distribution has often carried over to the other team as well, with Jones’ 8 interceptions on the season.
Defensively the Blue Devils look strong at first glance, only allowing 21 points and 200 yards passing a game. But Duke has never played an offense like the Cardinals. AJ Wolf, the big DT, will be a player to watch as he as 5 sacks on the season and 2 deflected passes making him a concern up front. Joe Giles-Harris leads the Duke tacklers as a redshirt freshman so keep an eye on #44 as well.
Keys to the Game U of L is coming off a bye week, it’s a blackout, night game, inferior team, favored by 35, at home, and still highly ranked. The Cards will win this game if they do three things.
1. Execute. – If everyone does their individual job, the Cards will roll over Duke. If the players come out expecting to win and slack off for even one or two plays, that’s all it takes to be put on upset alert. Execute and everything will work out fine for the boys in black.
2. Radcliff. – Brandon has been a monster all season long and at times it seems he physically can’t run for less than 10 yards. Duke allows 3.2 yards a carry and that’s not against offensive lines the caliber of the Cards’. If the Cards get Radcliff going early, it will be a long night for Duke. Radcliff only has three touchdowns on the season, and I personally would love to see that double, heck even triple, tonight.
3. Shut Out –Louisville is being talked about nationally because of the offense and Lamar Jackson. This is the defense’s time to shine. After a bad showing against Clemson, giving up yards upon yards and a lot of points, it’s important the defense shuts down Duke. The goal should be a shut-out or bust. Jaire Alexander and Chucky Williams kept the Cards alive in Clemson and should keep that intensity up tonight. The front seven needs to step up and put pressure on Jones all night. The freshman QB has 8 INT's and 6 fumbles, meaning Hearns, Fields, Bailey, Brown, and others need to find their groove and pressure him into more of those mistakes. It’s time to show the nation that U of L is a good football team on both sides of the ball.
Prediction Well rested and fired up after a loss, the Cards plow through the Blue Devils. Radcliffe rushes for 180 and 3 TD's, Lamar throws for 300 and 3 TD's, and the defense plays lights out. Cards win 56-6.