The 17th-ranked Miami Hurricanes look to add win number two to their 2020 campaign Saturday as they travel to Louisville to take on the 18th-ranked Cardinals.
And while UM may have pulled off an exciting 52-27 victory over UL in 2019, both teams have made some changes.
With that said, here’s how the Hurricanes match up with the Cardinals.
Louisville’s QB/o-line vs. Miami’s d-line
Advantage: Miami’s d-line
Louisville’s offensive line is an experienced one, holding four upperclassmen. Senior and captain offensive center Cole Bentley leads the group that only gave up one sack, and two quarterback hurries in Week 1. And former Miami commit Renato Brown starts at right tackle for the Cardinals as a redshirt freshman.
At quarterback is Micale Cunningham, a dual-threat that’s very quick and has a nice touch on deep balls. He showed off his arm strength last Saturday when he hit receivers Dez Fitzpatrick and Braden Smith for a 70-yard and 63-yard bomb, respectively.
Cunningham threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns, garnering a QB rating of 91.1. However, a further look at the tape from week one would show you that he threw two interception-worthy passes, not including the one that WKU actually picked off.
Cunningham could prove to be a problem for Miami or a turnover machine for the secondary. Miami’s defensive line, led by Quincy Roche and Jaelan Phillips, should look to focus on the edges as Louisville’s rushing attack is significantly less threatening than their passing game.
However, this won’t be a two-man show. Jahfari Harvey and Cam Williams should see significant playing time as the Hurricanes’ defense will flex its speed against a solid but slow offensive line and cause havoc for Cunningham.
Louisville’s rushing offense vs. Miami’s rushing defense
Advantage: Miami’s rushing defense
Louisville had a poor rushing performance in week one, putting up 144 yards on 38 carries for an average of 3.8 yards per carry. However, this is no surprise since their ability to pass is known to be their bread and butter.
Perhaps Louisville only rushed the ball to provide some variation in their offense. All the same, I don’t see Louisville getting over 100 yards rushing on Miami’s front seven.
Louisville’s passing offense vs. Miami’s passing defense
Advantage: Louisville’s passing offense
This could be the difference-maker for Louisville on Saturday. The Cardinals have a deep and talented stable of receivers who can all blow the top off a defense.
The group is led by star slot receiver Tutu Atwell, who could be the fastest player in college football. And as previously mentioned, Louisville is very deep at the position and proved just that in week one.
UL had three receivers with over 50 yards receiving — Fitzpatrick, Smith and Atwell — and three different receivers who caught a touchdown — Fitzpatrick, Ean Pfeifer, Marshon Ford.
Louisville’s greatest strength on offense is Miami’s greatest weakness on defense. Miami is very shallow at the cornerback position, as starting outside corner Dj Ivey is prone to mental lapses in coverage and getting beaten over the top.
This could be devastating for a defense facing a track team of receivers. I think redshirt freshman slot corner Te’Corey Couch will see a lot of snaps on Saturday given that Louisville utilizes the screen game so well.
Miami’s Qb/o-line vs. Louisville’s d-line
Advantage: Miami’s QB/o-line (narrowly)
Miami’s offense is led by Houdini himself, otherwise known as D’Eriq King. King proved his elusiveness and quickness in week one, rushing for 83 yards and a touchdown.
However, we didn’t see much of his passing abilities since Miami ran the ball most of the time. And when he did throw it deep, he missed his throws.
Miami’s offensive line looked vastly improved, which isn’t saying much given that they were one of the nation’s worst a year ago. They put up a solid performance against a talented UAB defensive line and caused minimal penalties.
Louisville runs a 3-4 defense, rotating which outside linebacker they blitz off the edge. All three of the Cardinals’ sacks last Saturday came from their linebackers: Monty Montgomery and Rodjay Burns. Their defense works very well from sideline to sideline since their linebackers have speed, and there are four them.
However, I didn’t see them produce the same level of havoc in the backfield when compared to Miami’s defense. I also believe that King will lessen their presence in the backfield even further.
Miami’s rushing offense vs. Louisville’s rushing defense
Advantage: Miami’s rushing offense
Miami has a talented stable of running backs led by junior Cam’Ron Harris, who hammered UAB’s defense and recorded 134 rushing yards and two touchdowns last week.
The Hurricanes also showed off their new freshman duo of Jaylan Knighton and Don Chaney, which shared plenty of snaps in their collegiate debut. Knighto posted 59 yards on nine carries and Chaney notched 52 yards on eight carries.
Louisville’s rushing defense held firm in their season-opener, giving up 199 yards on the ground for an average of 3.4 yards per carry. WKU didn’t have nearly the amount of speed and power that UM’s running backs do, and they certainly didn’t have King.
Miami’s passing offense vs. Louisville’s passing defense
Advantage: To be determined
Miami only threw 27 passes last week, which is a minuscule amount when compared to their 52 rushes. And that’s due to the fact that the Blazers brought out a never before seen defense last week, so offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee didn’t open up the playbook.
In Week 2, expect the Hurricanes to improve on their consistency when throwing the football and their timing when running routes. Louisville’s passing defense was solid but relatively untested, as Western Kentucky only threw 10 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown.
This draws for an exciting matchup since neither team has seen too much action in this aspect.
Advantage: Miami’s special teams
Louisville didn’t attempt a single field goal last week but finished five for five on extra points. And their punting game was truly a disaster.
Punter Logan Lupo dropped a punt in the first quarter, giving Western Kentucky the ball on the 1-yard-line, and later had one blocked, which WKU scored on as well.
Given the Cardinal’s poor punting game, Miami should go with a reliable option at punt returner, who will take advantage of the field position given to them.
With the addition of transfer kicker Jose Borregales, Miami has full confidence in the kicking game and punter Louis Hedley performed very well in the opener.