Let me preface this by saying it’s okay if you hate me for that title, I kind of hate myself for it too. But with it being Halloween weekend and all, I just couldn’t quite help myself. In any case, we’re headed to Winston-Salem this weekend as an 11.5 point favorite over Wake Forest, but will it be a weekend of tricks or treats for the Cardinals? What is the key for us to come home this weekend as a 4-4 team and 3-2 in the ACC?
According to Coach Bobby Petrino – it’s all on the offense. After Saturday’s 17-14 nail biter of a win over Boston College, Petrino flat out said, “Right now on offense, we’re not very good.” Well, after sitting through that game in the pouring rain, I’m not sure I can disagree. The offense committed six false-start penalties as well as had a fumble, interception, and multiple negative-yardage plays. Many of these mistakes can likely be attributed to the struggle of fielding a young team, but it is difficult to place all of the blame on that at this point after we have seen the ability of these guys. Right now it seems to be more of an issue of this team playing to their potential. The main focuses this week and moving forward will need to be consistency and cohesion of the offense as well as following through on third-down conversions – seemingly small things we’ve struggled with that continue to have big effects. It will be interesting to see if Petrino and I see eye to eye on these things, and what they are able to bring to the field against Wake Forest after a short week of preparation.
On the other side of the game, it is going to be just as important for our defense to be on their toes (and game) in order to deal with facing both quarterbacks Wake Forest plans to throw our way. According to preliminary reports from Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson, they plan to stick with sophomore John Wolford as a starter on Friday – but will not be allowing freshman Kendall Hinton to cool his heels on the sidelines. UofL fans are no strangers to freshman QB’s, and Hinton’s performance against North Carolina State (complete with 107 running yards and 2 touchdowns) is a difficult thing to ignore during preparation. With UofL missing Jaire Alexander, who has become both a key defensive and special teams player, this idea of consistency is going to be key again on the defensive side of the ball as well. On the surface, Wake Forest’s 1-4 ACC record and questionable offensive line makes it look like an easy W, but any team who can finish within 8 points of FSU deserves to be taken seriously.
I’m not one to make score predictions – I’ll leave that one up to y’all, you can let me know what you think. I will say however, I’ve got a good feeling about this one. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, so here is to positive thinking that the only “boos” Cardinal fans will be left with are from ghosts and game-watch parties.