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Film Preview: Louisville at Miami, 11/9

The Hurricanes are hosting the Cards at Hard Rock

NCAA Football: Virginia at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville heads down to Hard Rock to take on the Hurricanes this Saturday at 3:30 on ESPN2. The Cards exited Week 10 with a 5-3 record and ranked 53rd in the SP+, while Miami is 5-4 and ranked 28th per the SP+. Miami is currently a less than seven point favorite over the Cards.

The ‘Canes offense is ranked 73rd and will face the Cards 88th ranked defense. The Louisville offense is their strength and 36th going against Miami’s strength the defense ranked 13th. The kicking game which is where games are often won or lost favors the Cards. Miami’s kicking is ranked 84th while Louisville’s is ranked 56th.

Micael, Malik.... it doesn’t matter. Mr. Cunningham can ball out on the national stage. Coach Satterfield is a great coach who maximizes his talent on offense. Cunningham is averaging 11.7 yards per pass attempt and has tossed eight touchdowns with two interceptions while running for 300 yards and four more touchdowns.

Javian Hawkins is the leading rusher with 887 yards on 5.1 yards per carry while the three best receivers are big play threats. Chatarius Atwell, Dez Fitzpatrick and Seth Dawkins are averaging 16.6, 19.2 and 20.2 yards, respectively and have combined for 14 receiving touchdowns.

In the Cards win over Virginia, Cunning ham averaged 12.6 yards per pass attempt and added 97 yards rushing and two total touchdowns. Hawkins ran for 136 yards with two scores of his own. Miami’s defense will have to back up their 13th ranking per the SP+ in shutting down the Cards.

Split Zone

The Virginia Cavaliers came out in a 3x1 open formation. The motioned the h-back and ran split zone. It’s a thing of beauty and the defensive player who over ran the play paid for it as the Hoos scored on the Cards. Split zone is one of my favorite concepts and Marsh and I discussed it in our #SchemeOfTheU chat and corresponding post.

Knowing that the Cards over run plays this counter type zone run can be a great way to offset their lack of discipline. Also, if that slot is running a bubble, arrow or pop pass they could RPO off of split zone easily.

Pistol Triple Option

One of the most dangerous threats is a well run triple option scheme. Look at what Navy, Army West Point and Air Force to do teams while having less “talent” than their opponents. Army has dominated Houston and given Oklahoma a run for their money while Navy has upset Notre Dame in recent memory. Louisville runs a nice option play with Cunningham but from the pistol. It’s in the same style that’s making Willie Fritz a hot name and that keeps Frank Solich eternally young up at Ohio.

The play, as you can see above, uses standard triple option rules. The first phase is for the QB to read the defensive end. If the end sits or goes outside- give the dive. If the defensive end squeezes (comes down the line of scrimmage) the QB pulls.

Here the QB pulled because the DE squeezed a little down the line. Now the h-back pins him down and the option relationship between the QB and wide receiver will begin. You can see the pitch read below. The QB will fake to the WR and cut up field.

The Cards carry this out to perfection on a big time touchdown run by the quarterback. The Hurricanes have struggled at times to defend spread teams who utilize the triple option. Even a bad UNC team was able to pick up yards with a now converted linebacker at QB using the diamond pistol and a triple option look.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Western Kentucky Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Satterfield is still using motion

You can take the coach out of Boone, NC but you can’t take the Mountaineer out of the man. Under Coach Satterfield, App State was known for running a lot of formations, shifts, motions and using their quarterback as a dual-threat player.

Here, the slot goes in motion for a fake jet sweep and then the QB reads the last man on the line. The motion put the safety in a position to not make a play on the QB once he pulled and the end man on the line squeezed (like above). The QB pulled and ran another huge run for the Cards.

If this type of stuff doesn’t worry you when walk-on linebackers wind up on the field, well, it should. With Bubba Bolden out, Michael Pinckney having been banged up and young but athletic defensive ends out there it can result in some big gains.

Cards pass rush

The Cardinals defense has 17 sacks on the season and Gregory Rousseau has 12 sacks by himself. If any part of the Hurricanes team needs a week off, it’s the Miami offensive line while in pass protection. Satterfield’s teams typically run some form of a 3-4 defense but with a 4th rusher, typically on the outside, bringing pressure and playing the run at the line of scrimmage.

Inside of the 20 most teams will start to adjust to man coverage of some kind, and by the time they work down to the 10 yard line it’s typically cover 0 (all man). Most teams bring pressure once they’re inside the 20 and especially inside the 10, too. Here, Louisville just brings a four man rush. They can’t get after Perkins in a reasonable amount of time and when no one comes open he decides to run.

Jarren Williams needs to learn to feel the mental clock of pocket awareness ticking in his head and learn when he needs to take off and run or throw the ball away. Costly sacks, like his trip sack against FSU, will flip the tide against a team like Louisville.


I was very wrong about Miami against Florida State and hopefully I bounce back and am right this week. Cunningham is going to be a problem for the Hurricanes unless they play really sound football. After seeing some bowl projections it worries me about Miami playing Navy, because the Hurricanes haven’t been a disciplined team on defense. It’s just not in the scheme. Manny Diaz plays to take big risks with big rewards.

When you play an option team like Louisville is from the shotgun and pistol, or Navy from under center, you have to play your responsibilities and avoid the desire to freelance or try to make too big of a play. I can see Cunningham throwing for 150 and running for 90 with three scores but Miami will also force him to turnover the ball.

Prediction: Miami by 7