Bobby Petrino and the Louisville Cardinals are set to open up ACC play on Saturday. They squeezed by a putrid Western Kentucky team and have yet to look impressive during the early stages of the season, but the coaching staff and the players alluded that their best football is ahead of them. The season is still salvageable as the Cards take on the Virginia Cavaliers (2-1). Here are three things to pay attention this weekend.
1. How will the offense look under Malik Cunningham now that the team has prepared Cunningham throughout the week with the starting offense?
Will he able to attack the Cavaliers secondary with consistently? This week’s offensive game-plan has been revised as we have seen both Puma Pass and Cunningham in same games but there is a juxtaposition in playing styles. Cunningham is no longer coming off the bench to provide a spark, which means the Cavaliers will prepare an applicable game-plan to stop him. One interesting stat that should favor Louisville is Virginia has only amassed five sacks on the season. Cunningham should be able to exercise his ability as a dual threat quarterback.
2. Louisville’s defense has to contain Virginia’s explosive offense.
The Cavaliers are averaging 446 yards of total offense and 34 points per game. Their average could have been higher if their game against Indiana wasn’t played during a monsoon. The Cavaliers are averaging 221 yards rushing per game while Louisville ranks 96th against the rush allowing 188-yards a game. Virginia also has a dual threat of their own in Bryce Perkins. The junior college transfer quarterback is averaging 303 yards of total offense a game with 9 total touchdowns on the season. Against Ohio, Perkins went 25-for-30 for 379 yards and three touchdowns. Against Richmond and Indiana Perkins rushed for a combined 231 yards with two touchdowns. Another name to beware of is wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus, who has comprised 363 receiving yards and four touchdowns in three games.
3. Louisville receiving core has to get going, as this is the most talented unit on the team.
The offense needs to make Cunningham’s transition from the backup to the starter as smooth as possible. Granted, they haven’t played well this season, dealing with drops in combination with ineffective quarterback play. Even though there is a lack of production, they are still the best unit on the team. One could argue, the two best players on the Cardinals are both in that group, in Jaylen Smith and Dez Fitzpatrick. The lack of continuity at the quarterback spot has led to an inefficient passing attack as Louisville ranks 112th in the country averaging 168 yards per game. Therefore, this group has to help Cunningham build a rhythm and confidence earlier, which this group is more than capable.<