While the Louisville defense has been rightly blamed for the teams lackluster performance thus far, they have actually improved over the last three games. However, that isn't saying much when you are talking about this squad. So far this season the Louisville D has allowed 27 points, 257 passing yards, and 154 rushing yards a game. All of these stats are in the bottom of NCAA rankings.
We all know Patrick White does not throw the ball down field much but this may be the game we see CRR let White show off his left arm. Even if Louisville loads up the box we should be able to run at will on this swiss cheese of a defense. They do not have the necessary speed on the edge to contain either White or Slaton, which will cause them to keep their linebackers wide. That is when we bust Schmidt up the middle and he busts another face mask.
Last season, WVU racked up a surprising 540 yards against a very good Cardinal defense. We'll see a little more than that for tonight's game. White throws for over 200 yards and rushes for 100 more. Slaton again does not go off for the numbers we have come to expect, only rushing for 113 but also getting about 60 receiving yards. It will be another solid performance with a few big plays but mostly extended drives down the field.
When our defense takes the field, something is going to have to give. Louisville's offense has been great, averaging 510 yards/game, ranking 6th in the country. The Mountaineer defense, however, is only allowing 262 yards/game, ranking 4th. Here's why WVU is going to win: we score more points.
Silly thing to say? Hardly. Like we said, Louisville is 4th in total offense. But where they lack is scoring, only ranking 18th. It's still a respectable ranking, but not quite the machine-like numbers of years past. Their defense is not putting them in good positions and their offense just isn't good enough to overcome that, mostly because their rushing offense ranks in the bottom half of Div. I-A (149 yards/game).
Even with just that, WVU should be favored by two touchdowns. But then we get into the biggest mismatch of the night: CRR vs. The Krag. Kragthorpe has arguably been one of the worst coaches of the season. If there were an award for "worst coach," it would be a dogfight between Mark Snyder and Steve Kragthorpe. Meanwhile, CRR has opened up our playbook and put the bite back in the Mountaineers' offense.
In the end, we win this one going away.
WVU 52 - Louisville 17
[5th Year Senior contributed to this preview]