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Author Archives: Justin Krueger

No More Excuses For Louisville Football

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The trajectory of Louisville football may have never taken a steeper curve than in the last 365+ days. And it may never stoop lower than the humiliating loss Louisville suffered on Saturday.

A 45-42 loss to Boston College has left fans stunned, disappointed and moreover, angry. Louisville lost to a team that was 115th in total offense, entering the game. A team that was 2-17 in its last 19 conference games.

A team that, last year, Louisville pulverized in a 52-7 blowout in Chestnut Hill. Despite Louisville playing Jekyll & Hyde football throughout October and November of last year, they still added a landslide win. There were comments made about Boston College’s head coach possibly losing his job, and the Eagles program taking a lot of backward steps.

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CSZ Picks Louisville v. Boston College

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Justin Krueger: 37-14. Boston College will present some challenges for Louisville, but aren’t offensively equipped to beat them on the road. Expect Harold Landry to have a solid outing, but Lamar Jackson should be the difference in a tune-up before facing Florida State.

Jeremy Wahman: 34-6. Lamar gets 487 total yards, four total touchdowns. Defense forces three turnovers.

Shawn Barbour: 42-7

Jacob Pratt & Paige Sherrard: 42-10

Mitch Motley: 45-14

Cody Higdon: 35-24. Lamar has 450 yards and defense has two turnovers.

Samuel Basden: 38-20. Lamar throws for three touchdowns and runs for another.

 

Everything You Need to Know: Louisville v. Boston College

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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.

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CSZ Picks Louisville v. NC State Game

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Jeremy Wahman: 34-31 Louisville. Lamar has three touchdowns and 457 total yards, one defensive / special teams touchdown makes the difference. Read the rest of this entry

Everything You Need to Know: Louisville at NC State

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How to Watch: Kickoff at 8:00, ESPN

Spread: Louisville -4.5 (O/U 66), per Bovada

Last Time: Lamar Jackson threw for 355 yards and three touchdowns, while #7 Louisville rolled to a 54-13 win over the Wolfpack. Cole Hikutini led all Louisville receivers with six catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. Louisville’s defense forced three interceptions, while the Cardinals rolled to a 44-0 halftime lead.

Louisville leads the all-time series 6-1, winning all three games since joining the ACC.

Meet the NC State Wolfpack:

After a disastrous loss against South Carolina to open the season, the Wolfpack have since rebounded to win four straight. This includes a road win at Florida State, their first win over a ranked opponent since 2012.

Many pegged them as a dark horse for the ACC this season. After taking down Florida State in Tallahassee, head coach Dave Doeren sees an opportunity to put themselves in the mix. The fifth-year coach has taken the Wolfpack to three straight bowl games, winning two of them. Doeren also led Northern Illinois to an Orange Bowl appearance in 2012, as well as back-to-back MAC championships.

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Q & A with Red and White Podcast’s Evan Roberts

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Before tomorrow night’s game at North Carolina State, CSZ had the opportunity to sit down with Red and White Podcast’s Evan Roberts. You can follow him on Twitter (@ER) and his podcast (@redwhitepodcast). Red and White Podcast is also available on Stitcher, Soundcloud and on redwhitepodcast.com.

JK: Most media members had NC State labeled as a dark horse for the ACC this year. Those expectations were tempered initially with the opening loss to South Carolina. Has it been in the discussion again, after winning on the road at Florida State?

ER: The hype is real and palpable around Raleigh. I think most people are able to excuse the first game for a variety of reasons. USC has played everyone close, NC State was without some key offensive linemen and we beat them in every facet of the game other than the score. Add that to the FSU victory and then somehow not doing what we normally do in those situations which would be losing to Syracuse in between FSU and Louisville. This is a good team and people see that, but we have to temper expectations on these sorts of things because we’ve just not done it consistently.

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CSZ Picks Louisville v. Murray State

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All CSZ contributors rule this game in favor of Louisville.

Justin Krueger: 66-6. In what has been a chaotic week for Louisville fans, football should serve as a brief escape from another scandal. Louisville should put Murray State away quickly, and we’ll see Jawon Pass and Colin Wilson in extended time.

P.S., that score is not an indicator of any bad juju.

Cody Higdon: 56-3. Puma comes in the second half and rips Murray State.

Paige Sherrard: 42-7. We see a Puma on the field. Lamar has two rushing touchdowns and beer/liquor sales hit an all-time high.

Jeremy Wahman: 69-6 (writer’s note: nice). Lamar and Malik rush for 100 yards each and two touchdowns. Puma throws for two touchdowns and we have a Clay Bolin sighting, finally.

Shawn Barbour: 56-3. Lamar throws for two touchdowns, rushes for one. Jawon Pass throws for two. Malik Williams rushes for two and Wilson for one.

Jeff Nunn: 59-0. Colin Wilson gets his first 100-yard game. Lamar has four touchdowns before halftime.

Mitch Motley: 62-7. Colin Wilson has three touchdowns, and Lamar gets back to Lamar with four touchdowns of his own.

Katie Goben: 45-3. Puma owns the second half and we finally see Alexander for a play.

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

Spread: unavailable

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.

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CSZ Picks Louisville v. Kent State

 

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Justin Krueger: Louisville 59-10. The next two games should serve as confidence builders for Louisville, before heading back into conference play in October.

Kent State is 118th in rushing defense, and 126th in total offense. I’d expect Lamar Jackson to again put up absurd numbers in this one, and a super productive day from Jaylen Smith. The hope is that Malik Williams gets more touches to ease the burden on Jackson in the running game, but we’ll see how it goes the next two weeks.

As for the backups, let’s see what Puma Pass has to offer.

Jeremy Wahman: Louisville 56-3. Lamar has a huge day, and the Cards get their confidence back. 300 plus yards on the ground! 2 QB’s with 150+ yards passing

Cody Higdon: Louisville 63-3. Puma comes in the second half and has a field day.

Jeff Nunn: Louisville 48-3. The debut of Jawon Pass and a monster day for Malik Williams.

Shawn Barbour: Louisville 63-6. Basing this on my belief, the team will come out hungry for this game.

Katie Goben: Louisville 38-10. We get our first look at Jawon Pass, Jaire plays in the first quarter and Dez continues to leap over people.

Mitch Motley: Louisville 72-7. Lamar has a similar performance to the one against Charlotte last year and the backups continue to score.

Everything You Need To Know: Louisville v. Kent State

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How to Watch: Kickoff at noon on ACC Network.

Spread: Louisville -44 (Bovada)

Last Time: Larry Poole ran for a 30-yard touchdown in the first quarter, as the Golden Flashes held Louisville to 228 total yards in a 10-3 win. Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert was a part of the Kent State roster at the time, while current Alabama head coach Nick Saban served as an assistant under Don James.

Kent State leads the all-time series 9-8.

Meet Kent State:

Kent State enters tomorrow’s game with a 1-2 record, their lone win a seven-point victory over FCS Howard. The Flashes have yet to score a touchdown this season against FBS competition. They’ve only scored three against Clemson in the season-opener, and were shutout at Marshall last week.

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CSZ Makes Their Predictions For Clemson Game

Justin Krueger: 34-28 Clemson. I’ve watched Clemson multiple times throughout the week, and their defensive line is flat-out impressive. Louisville’s offensive line has played better, but this will be an exponentially tougher test than Purdue or UNC. I also have questions about Louisville’s secondary, especially if Jaire Alexander sits out again.

Louisville will have their opportunities, and Lamar Jackson will surely keep them in the game. But I don’t know if it’ll be enough tomorrow night.

Mitch Motley: 38-28 Louisville

Shawn Barbour: 35-31 Louisville

Cody Higdon: 38-35 Louisville. Blanton Creque redeems Wallace’s kick from last season.

Jeremy Wahman: 28-24 Louisville. Lamar dominates, held under 400 total yards but three touchdowns.

Jeff Nunn: 35-34 Louisville. The defense is the strength of this team, and they’re just as good as last year, if not better. Although Clemson is 3-0 against Louisville, I feel this is the year that Louisville gets it done.

Paige Sherrard: 28-24 Louisville. Dez Fitzpatrick continues to shine, James Hearns has crucial tackles, Jaire Alexander returns & lights up Clemson’s offense & Lamar Jackson has two passing TDs & two rushing TDs.

 

Everything You Need to Know: Louisville v. Clemson

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How to Watch: Kickoff at 8:12 p.m. on Saturday, ABC

Spread: Clemson -2.5

Last Time: Trailing 28-10 at halftime, Louisville roared back with 26 unanswered points to take an eight-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Clemson responded with two touchdowns in a three-minute stretch, taking a 42-36 lead. Lamar Jackson led the Cardinals into a fourth-and-goal opportunity, but fell short as James Quick ran out of bounds.

Clemson leads the all-time series 3-0, with each game coming down to the final possession.

Meet the Clemson Tigers:

A lot has changed for Clemson, since that epic game last October. The Tigers fell against Pittsburgh in mid-November, but rebounded to claim the ACC title and, eventually, a last-second win against Alabama to win the national championship. The Tigers are one of the premier programs in the country, with a potent coaching combo in head coach Dabo Swinney and defensive coordinator Brent Venables.

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Everything You Need To Know: Louisville at UNC

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How to Watch/Listen: Kickoff at noon on ESPN

Spread: Louisville -10

Last Time: The last time Louisville and North Carolina played came in 2012.

Louisville marched to a 36-7 halftime lead, thanks to stellar performances from Teddy Bridgewater (23/28, 279 yards, three touchdowns) and Jeremy Wright (20 carries, 114 yards, one touchdown). The Tar Heels rallied to a near comeback, but Andrew Johnson tipped a goal-line pass on fourth down to prevent it. UNC’s Bryn Renner finished with 363 yards and five touchdowns, as the Cards survived 39-34.

Louisville leads the series 4-3, winning three of the last four.

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CSZ Staff Makes Their 2017 Season Predictions

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2017 Season Predictions

Justin: 10-2. I can understand the argument for 11-1, 10-2 or even 9-3. Louisville has the talent for yet another big season, but for them to succeed and reach double-digit wins, they have to do three things; shore up the turnover problems, find a work-horse running back and have a top 30 defense (at least). If Louisville wants to take the next step, they cannot play down to their competition (ex: games against Wake Forest and Virginia).

For now, I think 10-2 is the safe prediction. Lamar will remind everyone why he is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, and perhaps win it again. Louisville, for once, will finish their home slate undefeated but fall short twice on the road (@ Florida State and either NC State or Kentucky).

Shawn: 11-1 with close wins v. Clemson, NC State, Wake Forest and Virginia. Close loss at FSU. Every other game we should have a good chance to see Jawon Pass play.

Jeremy: 12-1 with NY6 bowl victory against Ohio State. Just outside of the playoff.

Mitch: 11-1 with a CFP berth.

Higgy: 12-0, it’s an omen Bobby always does best in his fourth year.

Katie: 11-1, I believe it will be a close game at GSU. I think the loss to FSU keeps us out of the playoffs and it becomes deja vu from the Clemson loss last year. Lamar repeats as Heisman.

Jeff Nunn: I think this is the year the Cards do not have a head scratching loss, and go 11-1. With a road loss to FSU, the Cards won’t get to play in the ACC Championship. They’ll win a New Year’s Six Bowl game and finish sixth in the final poll.

Paige Sherrard: 10-2. We drop a game to FSU and some random team we shouldn’t lose to, but it’s that game we have every season. Lamar Jackson has a stellar Heisman campaign. We go to a New Years Six bowl.

CSZ Staff Makes Prediction for the Purdue Game

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Justin: 56-31 Louisville. This will be a game the bettors will hate, because both will score a lot of points but a lot of uncertainty regarding whether or not Purdue will cover (or in this case, push). Jeff Brohm is a motivator of men, and his teams at Western Kentucky were uber-exciting. Purdue will be ready and put up a spirited effort, but their defensive issues will lead to another vintage showing for Lamar Jackson.

 

Jeremy: 63-20 Louisville. Lamar go nuts on the haters then at the end after the victory formation, None other than Stone Cold Steve Austin comes out and gives everyone in Black & Gold a stunner.

Shawn: 69-23 Louisville.  Bobby wants everyone to go home with a feeling. Lamar takes Purdue’s souls and Jawon Pass gets some clock. Defense plays well and shows flashes of dominance.

Paige: 56-14 Louisville. Lamar has six TDs. Two rushing. Four passing.

Jeff Nunn: 52-17 Louisville. Jawon Pass gets his first collegiate touchdown. Lamar has 4 TD’s. Reggie Bonnafon has over 125 combined yards and Jaire get’s an interception.

Mitch Motley: UL 59 Purdue 13

Cody: 63-14 Louisville. Bobby opens the game with a trick play touchdown

Everything You Need to Know: Louisville v. Purdue

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How to Watch: Kickoff at 7:30 ET (Fox)

Spread: -25 (Bovada)

Last Time: Only one game has been played between the Boilermakers and Cardinals, a 22-22 tie in 1987. This will be the Cardinals first game against an incumbent Big Ten member since 2001.

Purdue in 2017:

Once a solid football program that boasted elite quarterbacks, Purdue has fallen under hard times. The likes of Len Dawson, Bob Griese and Drew Brees all played for the Boilermakers, but now that history seems irrelevant. Purdue is back to a rebuilding project, after Darrell Hazell was fired in the middle of the season.

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Louisville Football Preview: Wide Receivers

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In the final installment of position breakdowns by Justin & Mitch, Justin breaks down the Breadwinners.

Last Year: Louisville native James Quick led the team in receiving yards (769), while leading the position group with six touchdowns. Jamari Staples and Jaylen Smith had nearly 600 yards each, with the latter scoring six touchdowns in 2016 (one of which was a game-winner at Virginia). Smith also averaged 22.2 yards per catch, emerging as a consistent deep threat for Louisville.

Reggie Bonnafon only had 13 receptions as the #4 wideout, but also had five touchdowns in 2016.

Listed Starters: Jaylen Smith (Jr.), Seth Dawkins (Soph.), Traveon Samuel (Jr.)

Dubbing themselves “The Breadwinners,” the Louisville wide receiver group is one of the deepest in the ACC. But despite their upside, the Cardinals have to replace three of their top four spots from last year, with Quick and Staples graduating and Bonnafon moving to running back (for now).

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Louisville Football Preview: Linebackers

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Last Year: Keith Kelsey and Stacy Thomas led the team with 91 and 85 tackles, respectively. Thomas, along with Jonathan Greenard, also had an interception in the NC State win last year, as well as 7.5 tackles for loss last season. Thomas ended the season on a high-note, having double-digit tackles in the final two games.

The unit captained a defense that finished 21st in FBS in tackles for loss (94), and has finished in the top 25 in total defense every year since 2010. The Cardinals will look to replace Keith Kelsey as a starter, now gone to the NFL.

Projected Starters: Stacy Thomas (ILB), Dorian Etheridge (ILB), C.J. Avery (STAR)

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Louisville Football Preview: Special Teams

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Last Season: After losing both their kicker and punter due to graduation, the Louisville special teams needed new faces at those positions. Mason King took over duties as the team’s new starting punter, while Evan O’Hara and Blanton Creque split duties as the starting kicker throughout the season.

King had a solid season as a freshman, finishing in the top 20 in average yards per punt. The St. Xavier alum was the only freshman in the country to be in the top 20 in punting.

Blanton Creque finished 16/19 on the season, with a season-long of 47 yards against LSU in the Citrus Bowl. Creque took over after the Florida State game last year, also hitting 39 of 40 extra-point attempts.

In the return game, Jaire Alexander proved why he is one of the most dangerous returners in college football. The sophomore had a punt return for a touchdown against Florida State last season, and nearly had a second in the same game. Alexander finished in the top 15 in average yards per return in 2016.

Projected Starters: Mitch Hall (long snapper), Blanton Creque (kicker), Mason King (punter), Jaire Alexander (punt returner), Cornelius Sturghill & Traveon Samuel (kick returner)

With Colin Holba going to the NFL, Louisville recruited All-American Mitch Hall to replace him. Hall played in the Army All-American game last January, and was regarded as one of the best long snappers in high school last year. He’ll likely start at long snapper this year, giving the Cardinals a potential four-year starter at the position.

The rest of the starters will likely remain the same. Creque and King will likely retain their roles as starting kicker and punter, respectively. King showed improvement as the season progressed; he averaged 40.23 yards per punt in his first six games, and upped it to 46.11 yards in the final seven games of the season.

Creque took over duties in mid-September and had a decent season, mostly hitting field goals inside of 45 yards. U of L did not allow a kickoff or punt return touchdown in 2016, but the Cardinals were 111th in touchbacks last year (11 total), and did not attempt a field goal of 50+ yards.

Moving to the other side of special teams, Alexander will be the main figure at punt returner. Holding the position since his arrival in 2015, he only has one touchdown so far, but has come close to scoring a couple more and has been Louisville’s best special teams ace since Trent Guy.

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Louisville Football Preview: Offensive Line

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Last Year: It was a brutal finish for the Louisville offensive line in 2016. The Cards ranked 126th in sacks allowed (47), including an FBS-worst 33 on road/neutral site games. The team had a very bad stretch towards the end, with 27 sacks allowed in the final four games (including 11 at Houston and eight versus LSU). Since Bobby’s return to Louisville, the Cardinals have allowed 131 sacks, one of the worst in the FBS in that span.

In the offseason, Mike Summers was hired from Florida to become the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Louisville. Former O-line coach Chris Klenakis moved to tight ends coach this season.

Projected Starters: Geron Christian, Lukayus McNeil, Robbie Bell, Kenny Thomas, Cole Bentley/Mekhi Becton

If you look at the numbers, it was essentially a tale of two seasons for the offensive line. In five of the first six games, Louisville only allowed one sack in each of those games; other than the Duke game, the offense looked in sync and nearly unstoppable.

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