Previewing 2018 Football: Louisville

Last week, Boston College football fans got a glimpse into what life was like without A.J. Dillon. What ensued was three quarters of an anemic offense, followed by an inspired fourth-quarter comeback that fell just short of a victory against North Carolina State. The Eagles (4-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) have six more conference games ahead of them. At the halfway point of the season, the Eagles have had their share of ups and downs, and it remains to be seen how they handle this next bit of adversity.

Louisville (2-4, 0-3) will visit Alumni Stadium following three-consecutive conference losses, two of the blowout variety. While BC looks to have control on paper, Purdue had also lost three-straight before dismantling the Eagles. The Cardinals seem to be suffering from the Lamar Jackson hangover, struggling to get their offense going, while ranking near the bottom of the FBS in rushing defense. The Eagles will hope to get back over .500 in ACC play by defeating a struggling Cardinals team.

Who is BC playing?

Louisville

When is BC playing?

Saturday, Oct. 13, 12:30 p.m.

Where is BC playing?

Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

How to Watch:

This game will be available locally on NESN and can also be livestreamed on WatchESPN via the ACC Digital Network.

By the Numbers:

BC:

1) BC is averaging 222.8 rushing yards per game. Steve Addazio’s offense has relied upon the ground attack, attempting more rushes than passes halfway through the season. Much of this success should be attributed to Dillon, but Ben Glines has done a nice job in his absence, averaging 105 yards in the last two contests.

2) The Eagles have only attempted two field goals this season. While much of this can be chalked up to game flow, manageable fourth-down distance, and an injury to Colton Lichtenberg, it undermines the glaring lack of confidence in a special teams unit that had been catastrophic for the Eagles until last weekend.

3) Zach Allen has been the heart of the defensive line, notching eight tackles for loss and three-and-a-half sacks. The future NFL draftee has been very active in batting down passes at the line of scrimmage, as well as drawing holding penalties on opposing tackles, making quarterbacks uncomfortable in the pocket.

Louisville:

1) The Cardinals are allowing 32.67 points per game. Although Louisville has always been known as an offensive juggernaut, this season, the defense has not really given the offense much of a shot to stay in games. Opposing rushing attacks are tearing up the Cardinals, as they’ve given 599 more yards than they’ve run for themselves.

2) Jawon Pass, the successor at quarterback to Lamar Jackson, has struggled early, throwing seven interceptions to just six touchdowns. He’s completing under 55 percent of his passes and has not offered much on the ground either, turning 32 attempts into -15 yards.

3) Field goal kicking has been a bright spot for the Cardinals, where Blanton Creque has converted 6-of-6 field goal attempts, including three from 40-plus yards. The junior is also a perfect 15-for-15 on extra points.

Last Meeting:

The meeting between these sides last year was Dillon’s breakout performance. His move to beat now-Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander could be described as the “stiff-arm heard ’round the world.” Dillon rushed for 272 yards and four touchdowns in a back-and-forth affair that saw the Eagles win, 45-42, on a Lichtenberg field goal when time expired. It marked the first game of BC’s three-game conference win streak that would carry it to a bowl berth.

Outlook:

On Saturday morning, Yahoo! Sports’ Pete Thamel reported that Dillon will sit out this weekend’s game. That said, even without Dillon, the weak spot of the Cardinals defense is on the ground, and the strength of the Eagles offense is exactly that. BC will run the rock as much as possible, contrasting the rushing attack with play-action. Creative play-calling on the offensive front could also help the Eagles come away with a victory, especially if they mix it up on first down. Continuous power running on first down has led to the Eagles establishing the ground game, but it has also become predictable and leaves the offense with a lot of second-and-longs. Tossing in jet sweeps and spread formations could catch Louisville off guard.

BC’s defense played well in the second half last week, only allowing one touchdown in the final two quarters. The difference was that BC was controlling the ball. Because the Eagles run an up-tempo offense, the defense needs them to pick up at least one first down to be fully energized to take the field for the next drive. When BC’s offense goes three-and-out, it puts the defense in a much tougher spot to be successful when playing on tired legs.

Jim Reid’s unit will try to create as many third-and-longs as possible, as the Cardinals have been dreadful converting those types of situations this season. Louisville has converted just 39 percent of its third downs, and forcing longer attempts could lead to more mistakes from Pass that the Eagles could very well turn into takeaways.

Featured Image by Timothy D. Easley / AP Photo