Looks Can Be Deceiving, but Louisville Will Try And Bring The Pain

In the days before the iPod—the dreaded early 2000s—a kid needed to beg and plead to wrest away control of the car radio. Parents can agree, however, that in the off-chance their child won that gruesome battle, they could not help but jam out to the same songs their kids loved. Whether the whole family rocked with Bowling for Soup, swooned over Dream Street, or danced along to Cheetah Girls, bubblegum pop, boy bands, and angsty rock dominated the generation.

Nowadays, those kids have become college students with their own car radios. Despite mass changes in popular music today—EDM, alternative, and dubstep control the airwaves—some tunes still bring them back to those simpler days. Guys still get their game on and go play like Smash Mouth taught them, girls dream about being Jesse McCartney’s “Beautiful Girl,” and so on.

No song took over the kids’ hearts quite like Avril Lavigne’s rock anthem “Sk8er Boi” did in the summer of 2002. For the few who may not remember, a girl looks past a boy in baggy clothes, only to want him back when he becomes a famous rock star five years down the road, to no avail. In her song, Lavigne teaches a valuable lesson: looks can be very deceiving.

This season, the Louisville Cardinals have deceived voters and fans. In their yearlong dance around the back end of the AP Top 25—topping out at No. 21—the Cardinals have built their reputation on the backs of a strong defense, ranked eighth in the country in scoring at 17.7 points given up per game. But, taking a closer look at their schedule will give a completely different story.

This Saturday evening at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Mass., the Cardinals (6-3, 4-3) will attempt to figure out which story holds true against the Boston College Eagles (6-3, 3-2).

When on defense, the Cards provide a difficult test for opponents both through the air and on the ground. Louisville’s front seven has given up the third-fewest yards in the NCAA at 738, which should seem an impossible task for an Eagles’ offense which relies almost solely on the rushing attack of running backs Jon Hilliman and Myles Willis as well as quarterback Tyler Murphy.

Yet Louisville has not come close to facing a ground game like BC’s. Not counting FCS-opponent Murray State, four of Louisville’s opponents have ranked 102nd or worse in total rushing yards. In fact, the only team remotely close to BC’s sixth-ranked rushing attack is Miami at 30th, a team which the Cardinals beat in week one. And though this could provide hope, the Cardinals had trouble containing Miami star running back Duke Johnson in that game, allowing him 90 yards on 20 carries, according to ESPN.

Additionally, Louisville’s passing defense stands at the middle of the pack—50th in passing yards allowed. Normally this would seem like an opportunity for BC head coach Steve Addazio to diversify his offensive strategy, as Murphy has thrown the ball better of late, adding two more passing touchdowns against Virginia Tech last week.

Sophomore safety Gerod Holliman, however, may convince Addazio to stick to his ground game. Holliman appears as the front runner for the Jim Thorpe Award for the country’s best defensive back, as he leads the NCAA in interceptions with 10, including a touchdown return.

Offensively, the Cardinals will look to ride the hot feet of senior Michael Dyer. After receiving some stellar, albeit inconsistent, performances earlier this season from running backs Dominique Brown and Brandon Radcliff, Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino has seemed to find his man in the Auburn transfer.

Dyer has rushed for 307 yards in the previous two games with four touchdowns, the toughest back BC’s seventh-ranked rushing defense has had to face since Pittsburgh’s James Connor in week two.

If the Eagles contain Dyer, the Cardinals should feel confident in sophomore quarterback Will Gardner. Gardner has played solidly all year, averaging 211.5 yards through the air in his seven starts, while staying efficient with 12 touchdowns against merely three interceptions. Additionally, his best performances have come since returning from a knee injury in week four, which kept him out of Louisville’s games against Wake Forest and Syracuse.

Judging from the strength of its offense, Louisville still poses a formidable threat to the Eagles. The Cardinals’ overrated defense, on the other hand, may have its heads up in space against a BC running game looking to bring them back down to earth. And if the Cards don’t do that now, expect to the powers-that-be to say “see ya later, boy,” to any chances of Louisville playing in a big-time bowl game this December.

Featured Image by Garry Jones / AP Photo

About Michael Sullivan 259 Articles
Michael Sullivan is the editor-in-chief of The Heights. After shouting out this space to his mother for two years as sports editor, he'd like to give one to his dad. You can follow him on Twitter @MichaelJSully.