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Wake Forest vs. Louisville Preview: The Cardinals Have An Excellent Front Seven

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A preview of tonight's game against Louisville.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
When Wake Forest Has The Ball

Head coach Dave Clawson has said that John Wolford will be the starting quarterback, but that Kendall Hinton will also play. Last week, Wolford was just 2-7 for 15 yards. He did not have much time to throw, but it was still a poor performance. Kendall Hinton finished just 12-22 for 107 yards passing, but did have 75 yards on the ground. When Hinton is in, Wake is going to need his playmaking ability. Louisville has an excellent defense overall (17th in S&P+ ratings), but they are one of the worst teams in terms of allowing points once opponents get inside the 40 yard line. When, please tell me it's not if, Wake gets to that part of the field, they must capitalize.

Sheldon Rankins and Trevon Young are going to cause problems for the Wake Forest offensive line. The two are excellent pass rushers, and have combined for nine sacks on the season. Rankins is 6'2", 303 pounds, and should warrant some double teams. Louisville's 3-4 scheme could really cause problems for Wake's inexperienced offensive line. Their three down linemen are massive, and then it's difficult to identify the location of the blitz. Linebacker James Burgess is excellent, and is one of the reasons Louisville has a top-5 linebacker havoc rate in college football. Last week was the offensive line's worst performance of the year. It's going to have to be much better if Wake Forest is going to be successful in this game.

The defense is very good at stopping explosive plays, so Wake Forest is going to have to grind it out with the intermediate passing attack.

When Louisville Has The Ball

I'm no longer convinced that Wake Forest has a good defense. It shouldn't be bad, but it has been absolutely horrendous over the past two games. Big play after big play. The first quarter against North Carolina State was the worst defensive performance I can recall seeing from a Wake Forest team. Fortunately, Wake Forest is now starting true freshman Dionte Austin at one of the cornerback positions. I thought that he played well last week, and even if he struggles, he's earning more reps for next season.

Wake Forest has to contain quarterback Lamar Jackson. He's not a gifted passer, but he is one heck of an athlete. He has thrown more touchdowns than interceptions, but he is averaging nearly 5 yards/carry, and has 6 rushing touchdowns. Our defensive ends cannot lose contain, and it's going to be necessary to keep a spy on him at all times. If he rolls out, then that allows wide receiver James Quick to get free. Quick has 19 receptions on the season and 4 touchdowns.

The good news is that Louisville is projected to start a true freshman at each of the tackle positions. Because of this, they have a high sack rate, cannot block long enough to have explosive passing plays, and have a poor stuff rate. Wake is going to have to actually finish sacks when they have the chance. That was a major problem last week against State.

Overall

Louisville's front seven is probably going to be too much for us to overcome, and I do not believe our linebackers are fast enough to contain Lamar Jackson.

Louisville 24

Wake Forest 10