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Wake Forest Football: Previewing the Louisville Offense

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A quick look at the Cardinal offense

NCAA Football: Louisville at Boston College Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

It has been approximately 1 eternity since Wake Forest last had a football game, but it looks like there’s a good chance the Deacs could be in action this Saturday against the Louisville Cardinals. The Cardinals have had a tough season thus far and currently sit at 3-7 overall and 2-7 in the conference. They have also had some interesting distractions in the past week regarding head coach Scott Satterfield and the job opening at South Carolina—whether that plays a role in the outcome on Saturday is to be determined. Let’s take a quick look at the Louisville offense before the Deacs (hopefully) take the field for the first time in about a month.

The Cardinal offense is surprisingly good for a team that has won just 3 out of their 10 games this season. Louisville currently ranks 68th in scoring offense with 28.0 points per game and 27th in total offense with 443.1 yards per game, just 4 yards per game fewer than Wake Forest. The Cards are the 15th best team in the nation in terms of efficiency, averaging 6.7 yards per play. That is likely due to the success of the Cardinal rushing attack; Louisville runs the ball over 37 times per game and is gaining an average of 5.2 yards per rush.

While all of that sounds like a team that should have way more than 3 wins, the Cardinals have turned the ball over so much this season that they have struggled to convert yards into points. Louisville is currently the 2nd worst team in the nation at turning the ball over, with 24 total turnovers through 10 games. Only Duke is worse with 35 turnovers this season (I hate our game against the Blue Devils got cancelled). Those 24 turnovers breakdown to a 50-50 split with 12 interceptions and 12 fumbles lost. This is an area where the Deacs have a huge advantage, as Wake Forest still leads the nation in both turnovers lost (1) and turnover margin (+15).

The Cardinals do have a few very dangerous weapons on the offensive side of the ball, even with Javian Hawkins opting out earlier in November. Dual threat QB Malik Cunningham has thrown for over 2,400 yards and 18 TDs this season, while also rushing for over 500 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is currently 16th in the nation and 3rd in the ACC (behind Sam Howell and Trevor Lawrence) with 144 points responsible for. Containing Cunningham will be a must for the Wake Forest defense because the redshirt junior has rushed for 350 years and 3 touchdowns in his last 3 games. With Hawkins out in the running game, the biggest playmakers around Cunningham are preseason 1st Team All ACC wide receiver Tutu Atwell and redshirt senior Dez Fitzpatrick. Atwell leads the Cards in receptions with 46 catches for 625 yards and 7 touchdowns, while Fitzpatrick leads the team in yards with 37 receptions for 756 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The Cardinals may have a losing record, but they are still a very dangerous team on the offensive side of the ball. If the Wake Forest defense is rusty after their long hiatus, the Cardinals could be poised to put up a ton of points this weekend.