--By Mike Gilpatrick
--Photo by Jared Anderson, River City Cards
Repeat. After. Me: Louisville Football is back.
The Louisville Cardinals take on the top team in the nation, Alabama; this Saturday, September 1st. The game will be at 8pm on ABC, and is at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fl.
Louisville and Alabama have faced three previous times. The Tide have won two. Their last matchup, in 1991, was won by Louisville, 34-7.
There’s a lot of talk from Louisville. Dez Fitzpatrick claimed that Louisville’s wide receivers are more talented than Alabama’s defensive backs. Bobby Petrino stated that Louisville was “gonna go beat ‘em.” Most recently, Louisville offensive lineman Lukayas McNeil said that “I definitely think we’re capable of going out, starting fast, and dominating their D-line.”
When you look at the comments, there’s some which make you think. First, Louisville has an experience advantage over Alabama’s secondary. The Tide are replacing every starter in the secondary from last season. Nick Saban still has a recruiting edge over pretty much anyone in the country, but it makes you wonder about how the fresh unit will do against an experienced wide receivers unit.
Bama runs a 3-4. Up front, their sizes are 6-5, 293, 6-4,285, and 6-7, 306. Their linebackers hover around 6-3 and 240. Their outside LBs are both over 240 lbs.
Considering that Louisville’s average size is roughly 6-5 and 300 (No math involved in averaging), there may be something to McNeil’s statement. Louisville’s offensive front five are also more experienced. They have three Seniors and two sophomores.
That may give Jawon Pass time to pick and throw. It also may help Louisville in the trenches. The Cardinals return six running backs, including Jeremy Smith, who left the team in hopes to transfer.
On the other side of the ball, Brian VanGorder and Co. will have their hands full. Bama returns four of five offensive linemen, and return both tight ends. Bo Scarbrough was the only departure from an uber-talented rushing attack.
Alabama also returns both Jalen Hurts and national-championship hero Tua Tagovailoa. With as talented as their offense is, the game may end up a shootout early.
This, in combination with Louisville’s loss of eight starters on defense, and a new system, will give a headache to Louisville coach Bobby Petrino.
Game one will untimately come down to Pass’s performance under center. He did well against mismatched opponents last year- hitting 23 of 33 for 238 yards with 62 yards rushing. Pass also has the tools available to put together a good year of football. He also has a height advantage over Lamar Jackson-at two inches taller.
If Pass does well, and the line holds up like it should, Louisville can hang with Alabama for most of the game. If Louisville plays perfectly, and takes advantage of Bama’s inexperienced defense; and VanGoder’s unit makes a few key stops, then this could end up as an upset.
More than likely, it will be a close game for most, and Alabama will pull away during the last few minutes. It won’t be a 25-point blowout, however.