Everything You Need to Know: Louisville v. Boston College
How to Watch: Kickoff at 12:20 p.m., WAVE TV (ACC Network Extra stream)
Spread: Louisville -22
Last Time: Lamar Jackson had a highlight-reel day with seven total touchdowns and 416 total yards (231 passing, 185 rushing) in a 55-7 blowout of the Eagles. The Cardinals allowed 207 total yards and forced three turnovers in the process, and had zero penalties in the game.
Louisville leads the all-time series 6-3.
Meet Boston College:
Boston College currently sits at 2-4, their lone wins against a pair of MAC schools in Northern Illinois (who won at Nebraska) and Central Michigan.
Despite three bowl appearances in his five years at Boston College, it is widely believed that head coach Steve Addazio may have his job on the line this season. Most criticism stems from the fact that Boston College has been towards the bottom of the ACC for most of his tenure, and in the last two years, near the very bottom of the FBS in total offense.
Players to Watch:
- DE Harold Landry
Plain and simple, Landry is an elite talent in the 2018 NFL Draft pool. Whereas Bradley Chubb presented challenges with his power and bull rush, Landry is more of a speed-based pass rusher. He can outrun tackles with his speed off the ball, but doesn’t shy away from contact with his frame (6’3″, 250 lb.). When engaged in blocks, he’ll often use a shoulder dip and utilize finesse-based moves to wreak havoc, and he is always pursuing a strip sack. Landry also has the speed and hips needed to take on dual threat quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson.
The senior is coming off a three sack performance against Virginia Tech, with five on the year.
- DB Lukas Denis
The junior has been a breakout player for a defense that has some talent, but with an inconsistent offense has been scored on. Denis is currently one of the nation’s leaders in interceptions, tallying five in 2017 (including two in a win against Central Michigan).
- RB Jon Hilliman
Steve Addazio’s built a tenure at Boston College based on physical play and running the football. They don’t have a lot of explosiveness, but make up for it with hefty guys like Hilliman. At 220 pounds, the three-year starter brings experience and a bruiser style of running that Boston College wants.
For a Louisville defense that has had issues with tackling, a guy with the size of Hilliman and stablemate AJ Dillon (6′, 240 lbs.) should present some challenges for them.
What to Watch For:
- Louisville OL v. Harold Landry
I’ve praised Landry earlier, and it’s well justified when you see his tape. However, it should be noted that he has yet to sack Lamar Jackson in his career.
It’ll be another game where he will be at the focal point. They’ll move Landry to either side of the line, so he’ll face both Geron Christian and Mekhi Becton during the game. If he and Zach Allen can make Jackson uncomfortable, it can create turnovers and get a short field for their offense.
- Louisville Running Game
Boston College currently ranks 21st in passing defense, but 116th in rushing defense. Conventional wisdom says that Louisville should look to run the ball in this game.
But with a depleted running back group, who will get the carries? Colin Wilson, Malik Williams & Jeremy Smith are all out. Dae Williams could return, but I’m extremely cautious about any player returning six months after an ACL tear. Reggie Bonnafon could get carries, but the offense hasn’t committed to running the ball with their backs. It could be an opportunity for Tobias Little or Harry Trotter to get reps, but I’ll have to see Bobby Petrino willingly commit to running before I can believe it.
The easy bet, for now, would be to see Jackson used in the running game again.
- Louisville Front Seven
With senior linebacker Stacy Thomas expected to miss the game, the focus should be on Louisville’s front seven, especially in stopping the run.
Watching Boston College on tape, they are a run first team that likes to use it to set up their passing game. They’re basic, but that’s the formula that’s led them to three bowl games in 4+ years. Expect that again, and it will be on a front seven that has a couple of questions.
First, can the defensive line make their presence felt? They’ve been good at occupying lanes and allowing linebackers to make plays inside, but have not been able to generate a quality pass rush lately. Louisville has only tallied two sacks in the last three games, so pressure from edge rushers like James Hearns and Trevon Young should be something to watch.
Second, how will the linebackers fare against the BC backfield? Without Thomas, it will be on guys like Dorian Etheridge and Khane Pass to stop the run. They’ll be slightly undersized in this game, but have fared well up to this point in run defense. Forcing Boston College into third-and-long situations will be critical; the Eagles have converted only 30% on the season (115th in the country).