Cardinal Football

Louisville Receivers Have Good Reason To Feel Confident Against Bama Secondary

If you are a fan of the Crimson Tide or a causal college football fan, Dez Fitzpatrick’s statement about the defending national champions are probably insane and idiotic to you.

“Every receiver in our receiver corps can honestly beat every one of their DBs one-on-one in coverage,” [Dez] Fitzpatrick said in a video tweeted by WLKY-TV. “It ties into the other stuff, if the blocks are right, if the quarterback’s drop is right, we ran eight-yard routes instead of a 10-yard route, that’s the kind of stuff I feel like we need to sharpen up. But I feel like straight talent-wise, I feel like we have the upper edge against their secondary, 1,000 percent.”

For the most part, if you do your research, what Fitzpatrick said was not asinine. That is one matchup that actually favors Louisville.

However, the real matchup will boil down to Louisville’s offensive line versus Alabama’s defensive line. During the Nick Saban era, Alabama always presents a ferocious pass rush. Last year, Alabama complied 40 sacks and 101 TFLs.

If head coach Bobby Petrino can gameplan a scheme that will protect Louisville quarterback Juwan Pass well enough, Fitzpatrick’s statement will come to fruition.

Easy solution, right?

Obviously, this isn’t 7-on-7 but walk with me. Let us do the hypothetical and say Alabama’s defensive line doesn’t harass Pass for the entirety of the game.

Louisville has a top-5 receiving core in all of College football. Jaylen Smith, Seth Dawkins, and Dez Fitzpatrick combined for over 2,300 yards and 20 touchdowns last year.

This core of receivers rivals in talent and production with the trio of Devante Parker, Damian Copeland, and Eli Rodgers but has more upside for success in the NFL. This group is extremely talented.

Smith is a 6-foot-4 223-pound all around receiver who complied 60 catches for 980 yards and seven touchdowns despite missing three games. The senior can stretch defenses vertically (Hench his 75 yard touchdown against UNC) or intermediately. Smith was named to Biletnikoff Award Watch List for top wide receiver.

Redshirt sophomore Fitzpatrick is a big play weapon who finished with 45 catches for 699 yards and nine touchdowns. The 6-foot-2 200-pounder demonstrated his ability during the earlier part of last season, when he had seven touchdowns in the first seven games. Kirk Herbstreit listed Fitzpatrick has one of five ‘breakout stars’ for this upcoming college football season and was named to Biletnikoff Award Watch List.

The underrated junior Seth Dawkins is a 6-foot-3 218-pound big body possession receiver who can make tough catches and be a physical runner after the catch. He finished with 42 catches for 642 yards and four touchdowns.

Here is an interest stat: there are only two power 5 teams returning more production at wide receiver than the Cardinals do. Ole Miss and West Virginia have more returning production. I’m not being bias either, Kerry Miller of Bleacher report ranked the Cardinals receiving core at number 8 in the country.

Here is my assessment of defensive backs at Alabama.

Alabama defensive backs are overrated.

Point. Blank. Period.

Alabama’s front seven puts constant pressure on opposing offensive lines forcing the quarterback into erratic throws and porous decisions with the football. This makes the job easier for the defensive backs and they look like studs while at Alabama.

If you think I am crazy, look at the lack of success for defensive backs from Alabama in the NFL.

Do you remember the following: Dee milliner, Cyrus Jones, Vinnie Sunseri, Javier Arenas, Dre Kirkpatrick, and DeQuan Menzie? All are either out of the NFL or JAGs.

Mark Barron was drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft as a safety by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And by his third year, he was traded to the Rams and switched from safety to linebacker.

Stay with me, since 2010, only two defensive backs from Alabama have earned a NFL Pro Bowl selection in London Collins and Haha Clinton-dix.

There have been plethora of Alabama defensive backs that have the mystique that comes with playing at Alabama, but it’s smoking mirrors.

If the offensive line can perform to an adequate level, this will aid the Cardinals receiving core in being able to exploit the mismatches against the secondary of Alabama. The teams that have contained the defensive line of the Alabama have given themselves a great chance to win because the passing attack has time to exploit the secondary.

Don’t believe it? The numbers are eyebrow raising.

Alabama has lost seven games in the past five seasons. In six of those seven losses, the average of sacks they have complied in those games is two. The lack of a pass rush in those games has resulted in the defense allowing an average of 385 passing yards in those games.

The explosiveness of the receiving core can open up the running lanes for the running back also.

In addition, Bama has lost the following of their secondary from the 2017 season: Ronnie Harrison, Levi Wallace, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Tony Brown, and Anthony Averett. The only defensive back that is returning from the National Champion season is Deionte Thompson. The team only returns 10 starters, including seven on offense and three on defense.

Granted, Bama will replace those players with 4-star and 5-star athletes. Therefore, there will not be a significant drop off from production.

But while Alabama will be trotting out talented but inexperienced defensive backs, their matchup will be against the Louisville’s seasoned and explosive receiving core.

This is not a slight at the defensive back and stating they aren’t any good. That would be a lazy statement, but Louisville has an advantage against the Alabama’s defensive backs.

If the O-line of Louisville can handle the front seven of Alabama, get your popcorn ready.

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