Everything You Need to Know: Louisville v. Murray State

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How to Watch: Kickoff at 3:30 p.m. on Fox Sports South

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Last Time:In Bobby Petrino’s second game back at Louisville, the Cardinals rolled to a 66-21 victory over the Racers. LJ Scott led the team with 126 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Brandon Radcliff added 97 yards and two touchdowns. Reggie Bonnafon also had a solid outing, throwing 8/11 in relief duty with three total touchdowns (one passing, two rushing).

The Cardinals lead the all-time series 13-6. In two of the last three meetings, Louisville has scored 65+ against Murray State.

Meet the Murray State Racers:

Murray State represents the Ohio Valley Conference in the FCS, led by third-year head coach Mitch Stewart. Stewart took over the Racers after Chris Hatcher left to take over the job at Samford University.

The Racers enter tomorrow’s game against Louisville with a 1-3 record, their lone win over Division II Kentucky Wesleyan (67-7). Murray State dropped a 27-7 loss to rival Austin Peay last week in their Battle of the Border contest.

Players to Watch:

  • EDGE Kenney Wooten

One of the leaders in the FCS with five sacks, Wooten is Murray State’s primary pass-rusher. Murray State typically runs a 3-4 or 3-3-5 stack defense, meaning pressure can come from multiple angles. It’ll be a test in a way for Louisville’s offensive line, to diagnose where blitzes are coming from and how to prevent havoc in the backfield. Wooten should be the headliner on a Murray State defense that has some talent, but has been left on the field too long with an inconsistent offense.

  • DB D’Montre Wade

Despite their record, Murray State has a few playmakers on defense. Louisville struggled with turnovers last week against Kent State, and Demetrius Monday had two interceptions against Lamar Jackson. Wade has three of Murray State’s eight interceptions this season, and can be that playmaker for the Racers if Jackson misses some throws.

Points of Emphasis:

  • Louisville Turnovers

Instead of matchups this week, I wanted to focus on how Louisville can better its game before heading back into ACC play.

Turnovers were a big issue for the Louisville offense. Two fumbles and two interceptions against a better opponent could have doomed the Cardinals to a loss. Some, especially, killed potential Louisville scoring drives, including a potentially touchdown catch-and-run by freshman receiver Josh Johnson. Luckily, Louisville was able to create turnovers on defense, including a pick-six from Trumaine Washington.

It’ll be interesting to see how Louisville manages the turnover battle this week. The Cards are currently -1 this season in turnover margin, and will need to improve on it as we reach the midway point of 2017.

  • First-Year Players

Another point of emphasis will be how the first-year players continue to play. Dorian Etheridge showed a lot of what made him one of my favorite recruits in the 2017 class; he shined with multiple plays in the backfield and displayed the football IQ he was praised with throughout recruiting and summer camp. I imagine this game will be another opportunity for him to show his potential to the Louisville fans.

Two that I do want to see more of are CB Russ Yeast and LB/S C.J. Avery. Murray State will likely air the ball out more than Kent State did, so fans should be interested to see how they play in man coverage. I doubt that Jaire Alexander returns this weekend, so it’ll be another chance for those two to earn reps once he returns.

On offense, it should be another opportunity to watch Colin Wilson. Despite his late arrival, Wilson had a solid outing with three carries for 33 yards.

Of note, lineman Mekhi Becton is currently the top-ranked freshman by Pro Football Focus.

Matchups to Watch:

  • Geron Christian v. Kenney Wooten
  • Seth Dawkins v. D’Montre Wade
  • Russ Yeast v. Jordan Gandy

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