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Head to Head: Louisville

| Monday, September 2, 2019

Irish Passing

Ian Book lost his favorite target in Miles Boykin, but Chase Claypool showed enough promise last season to foreshadow success on Monday. Louisville does have experience at the cornerback position in graduate student Cornelius Sturghill and junior Marlon Character, but Claypool and Chris Finke are too quick and have too much practice to be stopped. Add in the fact that Book has a video-game completion rate and a strong line, and the Irish should be able to use their offensive weapons at will. 

EDGE: Notre Dame


Irish Running 

Unfortunately, the Irish lost running back Dexter Williams to the NFL and his 995 yards and 12 touchdowns. Fortunately, the Irish return junior Jafar Armstrong and senior Tony Jones Jr., as well as add freshman Kyren Williams. If healthy, Armstrong and Jones are a dynamic duo in the backfield and dual-threats rushing and receiving. With Ian Book a constant passing threat, a veteran offensive line, and a Louisville defense — even one under a new coordinator — that gave up six rushing yards per attempt, 277.3 rushing yards per game and 40 rushing touchdowns, the Irish backs should have a field day.

EDGE: Notre Dame


Irish Offensive Special Teams 

Replacing two four-year starters in kicker Justin Yoon and punter Tyler Newsome is going to be a significant challenge. Junior Jonathan Doerer is currently set to kick, and freshman Jay Bramblett is set to punt. The pair have inspired confidence from the Irish coaches throughout camp, but until they get out on the field and show they can do, hold your breath with fingers crossed for Irish special teams. Expect to see Chris Finke returning punts again for the Irish in game one. After a season that saw him average 9.8 yards per return, the Irish will look to build upon what was an up and down special teams unit last season. 

EDGE: Louisville


Louisville Passing

Quarterback Jawon Pass will face his fair share of trouble in this matchup. Last season, Pass had a completion rate of just 54%, throwing just eight touchdowns to 12 interceptions during Louisville’s 2-10 year. He has a pretty solid target in receiver Dez Fitzpatrick, but Fitzpatrick has to have the ball in his hands before he can do anything with it. Pair Pass’ tendency for inaccurate throws with Notre Dame’s speed at the cornerback position and this matchup spells disaster for Louisville. 

EDGE: Notre Dame


Louisville Rushing

The Cardinals return their top rusher in sophomore quarterback Malik Cunningham, who posted 497 yards rushing last season. Sadly for them, he suffered an injury in the spring that’s left him behind redshirt sophomore quarterback Jawon Pass, a 93-yard rusher last season. Also, no running back on their roster came close to matching Cunningham, with sophomore running back Hassan Hall coming the closest at 303 yards. Their three next-best running backs, all 200-yard rushers, are gone. Finally, their offensive line gave up 43 sacks last season, along with 93 tackles for loss. While Notre Dame suffers from the loss of Jerry Tillery on the interior defensive line and linebacker Drue Tranquil and Te’Von Coney, their depth and talent is superior to that of the Cards.

EDGE: Notre Dame


Louisville Offensive Coaching 

On offense, the Cardinals are led by new offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford. Ledford was named the offensive coordinator at the end of the season in 2018. Prior to being offered the position, Ledford was the offensive line coach and running game coordinator for NC State for three years. Ledford did manage to build a stellar offensive line at NC State, but with a largely new coaching staff in general, and considering his lack of experience as a head coordinator, it is tough to give him an edge over Clark Lea, who developed one of the most menacing defensive lines in the nation last season. 

EDGE: Notre Dame 


Louisville Offensive Special Teams

The highlight of this unit, led by special teams coordinator Stu Holt, is senior kicker Blanton Creque. The senior is entering his final season at Louisville, and he already finds himself among impressive company in Louisville football history. In program history, Creque ranks sixth all time in points scored with 253 and fourth all time in field goals made with 43. Even more impressively, in his three years of play so far, Creque is 43 for 51 in field goal attempts with an 84.3% accuracy rate. He is likely to be a standout among ACC kickers this season. Considering Notre Dame’s lack of strength at the kicking position, Louisville holds a slight edge on special teams. 

EDGE: Louisville

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