LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Louisville will look to unload some baggage in Atlanta Friday night – the first two-game losing streak in second-year coach Scott Satterfield’s tenure – when it visits Georgia Tech at 7 p.m.
The Yellowjackets are 1-2, coming off losses to UCF and Syracuse, while both of Louisville’s losses came to ranked opponents.
This one figures to be a chance for the Cardinals to get well a bit, coming off a bye week, against their first unranked opponent since WKU to open the season.
But there are issues to fix. Offensive line coach and offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford said he had some rather lengthy and spirited film sessions with his offensive line after it allowed seven sacks against national sack leader Pittsburgh. Only seven teams in the nation have given up more sacks than Louisville this season, and only three teams have allowed more tackles for loss.
“I think they took it very personal,” Ledford said of the Pitt loss. “We had, let’s say, a very spirited week of practice. I think the guys, any time you have those type of numbers and performance, if it doesn’t affect you then you’ve got the wrong guys, and I think it really did affect them, even guys that didn’t play. . . . The things that we practice, we didn’t hit our layups. We didn’t execute. . . . We had a really long and very productive film session. Got to spend a long time on it, and spend a lot of time on the corrections from the Pitt game before we moved forward to focus on Georgia Tech.”
Louisville’s defense, which showed improvement against Pitt, will encounter a Tech team that has had some success running the ball but which has been turnover prone in its past two games.
But the key for Louisville will be offensive execution. It has been unable to unleash its dangerous skill players in its past two losses because of pressure on quarterback Malik Cunningham and troubles running the ball. That starts with the offensive line, which will be under pressure to improve tonight.
“(Ledford) got after them pretty good in practice,” Satterfield said. “There were some things that we did uncharacteristically last game that we have not been doing up front. We got back to basics this past week and emphasized correcting those things. I think that the guys got after it pretty hard, and responded with a good week of practice. Some of the things that we did last week are hard to explain. We know we are capable of playing better, we showed this the week before Pittsburgh against Miami. I thought they fought and blocked well against a really good (Miami) defensive front in that game. We have to get back to doing the kind that we are supposed to do and then get good at it.”
LOUISVILLE at GEORGIA TECH:
Time, site: 7 p.m. Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta.
TV: ESPN (Jason Benetti, Andre Ware and Roddy Jones). Radio: WHAS-840 AM (Paul Rogers, Craig Swabek, Jody Demling).
Line: Louisville by 5. Over-under: 64.
Last time: Georgia Tech dominated Louisville 66-31 at Cardinal Stadium in 2018. The Yellowjackets rushed for 575 yards in that game, which came in Louisville’s dismal final season under Bobby Petrino. It is the only previous meeting between the teams.
Records: Georgia Tech is 1-2 after back-to-back losses to UCF and Syracuse. Louisville is 1-2 after back-to-back losses to Miami and Pitt.
Player to watch (Georgia Tech): Freshman quarterback Jeff Sims is a talent, but like any freshman at the college level, is facing a learning curve. His efficiency and ability to make plays will be central to Georgia Tech’s chances. In its two losses, he has thrown for only two touchdowns and six interceptions. If he can keep from turning it over, Tech is tough on the ground, including Sims, who is a threat to run the ball.
Player to watch (Louisville): The Cards need to get Tutu Atwell back into the mix a bit more. As a preseason All-American, he’s receiving a great deal of attention from opposing defenses, but if they can get him the ball in space, good things happen. Pitt was able to hold him in check – his four catches included a touchdown, but went for only 37 yards, about a third of his season average going into the game.
Sideline storylines: Louisville is no stranger to playing on Friday nights. This will be the Cardinals’ 83rd Friday game. They are 50-31-1 overall on Fridays, including 18-14-1 on the road, and 12-10 on TV. Their last two Friday night games were disasters, with lopsided losses to Syracuse and Georgia Tech in 2018. Before that, they’d won five Friday games in a row.
Quotable: Satterfield, talking about his message to the team after an 0-2 start, said, “We need to take it one game at a time. We obviously are trying to learn from anything we can in the past, whether it be had we hit one of those balls at the end of the game for a touchdown and we won that game, but for us this week wouldn’t be any different. We still had a lot of work we had to get done during the off week last week, and then we’re coming this week, it’s a new week. Whether you win or lose in the past, this week’s a new week. How hard can we play? How much fundamentally better can we get this week? That’s how we approach it every year. It’s really game-to-game. Each game in itself is its own season. What can you do this week to go out and play good enough to get a win.”
The picks: Rick Bozich has Louisville winning 35-24; Eric Crawford calls it for the Cards, 35-21.
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