Miami will travel to Louisville on Saturday night to take on an explosive Cardinals team who will present a fun matchup for the Canes. This is a game that could be used as an early season springboard into bigger games ahead and give a barometer on where the Canes are as a program. Louisville is infinitely better than they were just a few short years ago when Bobby Petrino was coach. Scott Satterfield has assembled some weapons that Miami must account for, and Miami must be on top of their game to walk out 2-0.
Matchup to Watch
Much was made this week about the struggles DJ Ivey had against UAB, so expect a bullseye on his chest for the Cardinals offense to try and exploit. Louisville will try to gash the Canes with big plays in the passing game, therefore the spotlight will be on Miami’s secondary. Miami lost depth this week when Christian Williams decided to enter his name in the transfer portal. Miami is now down to five scholarship CBs, so expect some position movement and some young unproven guys to have to step up.
Tutu Atwell is a blur at WR for the Cardinals, one who took a short crossing route 80 yards to the house last year against Miami. Atwell accounted for 69 grabs 11 TDs and 1272 yards in 2019. He is the type of player Louisville will find ways to get the ball in his hands. Watch for him to come in motion, take fly sweeps, run shallow routes to go along with deep routes. Atwell torched Miami with 6 catches and 142 yards in last seasons meeting. Atwell is only 5’9 and 165lbs, but his speed and elusiveness make him the most dangerous player on Louisville’s offense. Miami must find him on every snap and not allow him to get loose.
If Atwell was the only option, Miami would be just fine trying to slow him down, but the Cardinals are loaded with weapons. On the outside they also have Dez Fitzpatrick and Braden Smith who combined for 8 catches and 220 yards in the season opening win over Western Kentucky. Fitzpatrick is built like a number 1 receiver at 6’2 220lbs but plays more of the number two role to Atwell. Smith gives Louisville a very talented third option for the Canes to account for.
Blake Baker needs to be on his “A” game this weekend calling defense. Micale Cunningham gives Louisville a true dual threat at QB, so Miami must account for his ability to make plays with his feet and his arm. The Canes did a decent job corralling him in last years meeting, but Cunningham is the type of kid who can have a monster game at any time. Cunningham though likes to trust his talented pass catchers and will put the ball up for grabs, which should give Miami a chance to cause some turnovers. The front 4 for the Canes will need to do a good job controlling the run game and get pressure on Cunningham with sending too many blitzers. Louisville will attempt to gash Miami with explosive plays, so the Canes need to limit those opportunities and make Louisville work the ball slowly down the field.
DJ Ivey, Al Blades Jr., Te’Cory Couch and all the rest of the secondary have been called out by fans and coaches this week. Louisville will be looking to exploit these guys, so the time to step up and have a big game is now. For the first time since Manny Diaz arrived in Coral Gables, this is a game where I worry about the defense and their ability to get stops.
Time to Buck a Trend
Chris Fallica drop a tweet that made my jaw drop. “Dating back to 2005, Miami is 3-23 away from home vs ranked teams. The three W came vs West Virginia in 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl, at Duke in 2015 - I think we all remember that game - and at Florida State in 2009 - incomplete on final play. Neither Duke nor FSU ended the season ranked”
Dating back to 2005, Miami is 3-23 away from home vs ranked teams. The three W came vs West Virginia in 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl, at Duke in 2015 - I think we all remember that game - and at Florida State in 2009 - inc on final play. Neither Duke nor FSU ended the season ranked— Chris Fallica (@chrisfallica) September 16, 2020
When did Miami get so soft, and how can that trend be changed? There was a point when the Canes would go into an opposing stadium and dominate. There was a point where Miami won 6 or 7 straight vs the number one team in the country. Miami needs to start this weekend taking care of business on the road against good teams. The Canes will most likely play 3 straight marquee night games @ Louisville, home vs FSU and @ Clemson. Miami needs to go 2-1 in this stretch, so winning games vs quality opponents must start now. Miami’s biggest opponent is between the ears. It is time to start believing that they can win games and going and doing it.
If the secondary play is sticky, and the Canes play with a confidence and swagger, Miami will walk out of Louisville with a win.