Game Day: Kent State

Matt Willinger, Associate Editor
Cardinal Sports

LOUISVILLE REMAINS HOME TO FACE KENT

After two consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference games, the University of Louisville football team steps out of conference to host Kent State on Saturday for a noon kickoff.

The game will be broadcast on RSN with Wes Durham (play-byplay), James Bates (analyst) and Rebecca Kaple (sideline). Paul Rogers (play-by-play), Alex Kupper (analyst) and Jody Demling (sideline) will call the action on Louisville Sports Properties.

Clemson totaled 613 total yards of offense and 297 yards rushing, while holding the potent Louisville offense to season lows in points (21) and total offense (433) in a 47-21 win over the Cardinals.

Junior quarterback Lamar Jackson accounted for three touchdowns to move past Dave Ragone and into second place on the school’s all-time list for touchdowns responsible with 85.

Jackson, a native of Pompano Beach, Fla., broke the ACC record for rushing yards by a quarterback by totaling 2,834 career yards, breaking Georgia Tech’s Joshua Nesbitt (2007-10) mark of 2,806.

Redshirt freshman Dez Fitzpatrick caught his team-leading fourth touchdown pass of the year — an eight-yard score in the fourth quarter.

Totaling four sacks in the loss to Clemson, senior outside linebacker James Hearns recorded a pair of sacks, while sophomore outside linebacker Jonathan Greenard increased his sack total to a team-high three with one sack.

THE OPPONENT

Kent State dropped a 21-0 decision on the road at Marshall to fall to 1-2 on the season. The Golden Flashes’ offense made three trips inside Marshall’s 25, but could not find the end zone. A 72-yard drive to the Herd’s nine, ended on a fourth-and-one stop at the line of scrimmage. The Flashes also missed a field goal and had a pass intercepted in the end zone.

Five Kent State players had a carry of 15 yards or more in the first half as the Flashes outgained Marshall on the ground 139-37 in the first two quarters.

Sophomore cornerback Jamal Parker made a career-high 12 tackles, including 10 in the first half.

SERIES NOTES

Louisville and Kent will meet for the 18th time when the two schools square off Saturday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Kent leads the overall series 9-8, but Louisville owns a 7-2 advantage in games held in the Derby City. The Golden Flashes are making their first appearance at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, and the first in Louisville since 1972.

Kent head coach Paul Haynes served as the secondary coach at Louisville in 2002 under former head coach John L. Smith.

In a series dating back to 1956, the Golden Flashes are making their first appearance in Louisville since losing 34-0 to the Cardinals in 1972.

WIN INDICATORS

There are many things that go into whether a team wins a game, but a long-term look at the trends during Bobby Petrino’s tenure at Louisville shows that winning the turnover battle and winning the run game are two of the easiest ways to predict a Louisville victory.

Under Petrino, when the Cardinals win the turnover battle, they are 35-4 (89.7 pct.) They are 11-1 (91.7 pct.) in games when they commit zero turnovers. Louisville is 63-7 under Petrino when outrushing the opponent (90.0 pct.) and is 41-2 when holding the opponent under 100 yards on the ground (95.3 pct.).

History also shows that Louisville is tough to beat when it takes a lead into halftime, as the Cardinals are 62-6 when leading at intermission under Petrino (91.2 pct.).

CARDS NINTH IN TOTAL OFFENSE

Despite the disappointing loss to Clemson, the Cardinals recorded 433 yards of total offense in the 47-21 decision. It was the 14th time in the last 16 games that UofL recorded over 400 yards of total offense over the last two seasons.

Louisville stands ninth nationally and first in the ACC in offense after the first three weeks of the season, averaging 554.0 yards per game.

The Cardinals are averaging 7.19 yards per play, which is tied for 17th nationally.

Louisville is averaging 77.0 plays per game this season after running a season-low 69 in the loss to Clemson on Sept. 16.

The Cardinals logged 705 yards of total offense on Sept. 9in the win over North Carolina, the 82nd time in the program’s history of tallying more than 500 yards of offense in a game. It is the thirdhighest team total in school history.

Louisville has achieved at least 700 yards of total offense in school history, three with Petrino at the helm of the program.

In the second game of the 2016, the Cardinals set an ACC mark with 845 yards of offense in a win over Syracuse. Under Petrino in 2003, the Cardinals registered 779 yards in a home win over Houston.

It was the 45th time achieving that mark with Bobby Petrino serving as the head coach or offensive coordinator at Louisville.

Louisville has achieved at least 500 yards of offense in 11 of its last 16 games.

Explosive plays have been prevalent for the Cardinals, ranking third in the country with 68 plays of over 10 yards and tied for ninth with 21 plays of over 20 yards. Louisville is one of four schools nationally with three or more plays over 70 or more yards.

Throwing the football, the Cardinals are tied for seventh in the country with 46 plays of over 10 or more yards and are fifth with 18 plays of better than 20 yards.

Wide receiver Jaylen Smith is tied for 10th place nationally with 15 plays of over 10 or more yards this season.

ON SEPTEMBER 23

If the Cardinals are going to snap their losing streak, September 23 is a good date to start. Playing their eighth game on this date, the Cardinals have a 5-2 record all-time on this date.

It will be the first game played on September 23 since a Bobby Petrino led team defeated Kansas State 24-6 in 2006.

Louisville is 4-1 at home on this date, but will be playing at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on this day for the first time in school history.

TRUE FRESHMEN SEE ACTION

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino has never shied away from playing true freshmen. In his eight years with the Cardinals, a total of 51 true freshmen have seen action for Louisville, including a high of nine in 2015. Louisville has played nine true freshmen so far this season.

In the season-opening win over Purdue, seven rookies saw their first collegiate action, including a trio of starters in linebacker Dorian Etheridge, offensive tackle Mekhi Becton and long snapper Mitch Hall. Etheridge started at linebacker, becoming the first true freshman to start at linebacker since James Burgess was a starter in three games during the 2012 campaign.

Corey Reed, TreSean Smith, Russ Yeast, and C.J. Avery also saw action in their first collegiate game. Josh Johnson cracked the lineup versus North Carolina, while running back Colin Willson played versus Clemson.

Of the 50 true freshmen who have played under Petrino, 19 have started at least once during their freshman season. Louisville had six freshmen starters in 2015.

Only three true freshmen saw action last season: Malik Staples, Lamarques Thomas and Seth Dawkins.

CREQUE-MATIC

Blanton Creque is back for his sophomore season as one of the most accurate kickers in college football last season. Creque, who ranked 21st nationally last year for field goal percentage (84.2), is 21-of-24 on field goal attempts over his career (88 percent). He ranks first in career field goal percentage. The Shelbyville, Ky., native booted 16-of-19 field goals last season, which was tied for the third-most on the school’s single-season list.

Creque is a perfect 5-for-5 this season, going a perfect 3-for3 from 30-39 yards, including a season-long of 37 yards in 2017. His next successful field goal this season will tie Jon Hilbert and Klaus Wilmsmeyer for 10th all-time in the Louisville career record book. He could potentially tie Wilbur Summers for seventh place as well as he sits just two successful tries back after the first three games of 2017.

Creque has made each of his last 10 field goals, dating back to last season, including a career-long 47-yarder in the Citrus Bowl loss to LSU. Creque, is 20-of-21 on field-goal attempts from 19-39 yards, with two of his misses coming on attempts of over 40 yards.

POOR FIELD POSITION AND THREE-AND-OUTS

The Cardinals were dominated in every phase of the game last Saturday in the loss to Clemson. Poor field position and the inability to sustain drives were one of the keys that led to the first loss of the season. Going 5-of-16 on third down, the Cardinals had six three-and-outs — after having just three in the first two games combined.

Louisville had six drives that started on its own 20-yard line, including three inside their own 10- yard line. The average starting field position for the Cardinals were their own 19-yard line.

Sophomore Mason King was forced to punt a season-high eight times — the most since punting eight times against LSU in the Citrus Bowl loss last season.

What to Read Next