For the fourth straight year FIU takes on Louisville this time here at FIU Stadium on Saturday. The Cardinals are 2-1 after losing to Virginia, 23-21, last weekend. The Cavaliers snapped an 11-game losing streak against FBS teams with the win.
Although Louisville manhandled the Coral Gables school and thumped Murray State before falling to Virginia, the Cardinals have had some issues with their offense while their defense has carried them.
Later this week I'll have "5 Questions on Louisville" answered by a member of the Cardinals media to give you a more in-depth look at FIU's next opponent. Don't forget you can listen to Saturday's game on ESPN 1210 AM with Mike Levine and yours truly bringing you the call of the game. The pregame show starts at 3 p.m. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.
Louisville's offensive line has had trouble both in run and pass blocking. The Cardinals have given up eight sacks (nearly three sacks per game). Louisville coach Bobby Petrino, formerly of C-USA's Western Kentucky, said his offensive linemen didn't finish blocks and drive through defenders on pass protection against Virginia. That led to several passes being batted down by the Cavaliers defense. If the FIU defense performs as it did in the first two weeks and last week against Pittsburgh early on before being on the field too long, the Panthers could cause problems for the Cardinals. The FIU D could use its speed against a Louisville offensive line that has not been a strength of the team.
The Cardinals are missing two of their top playmakers on offense with receiver DeVante Parker out with a foot fracture and running back Michael Dyer, who was once an Arkansas State back, dealing with a thigh bruise. Dyer might return to play against FIU, but that won't be known until later this week. Dominique Brown has been the main ballcarrier in Dyer's absence. Brown has collected 257 rushing yards on 58 carries (4.4 yards-per-carry) with three touchdowns.
Cardinals redshirt sophomore quarterback Will Gardner is a starter for the first time this season after Teddy Bridgewater was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings. Gardner is a big guy at 6-5, 224 pounds but he had some trouble against the Cavaliers pass rush last weekend and the Hurricanes defense in the first week of the season. Getting consistent pressure from the Virginia defense, Gardner underthrew his receivers. Gardner fumbled twice in the season opener.
Right now the defense is the strength of the Louisville team, which is not good news for an FIU running game looking to get on track. The Cardinals are allowing just 2.6 yards-per-carry, 75 rushing yards-per-game. The Cardinals have a big D-line and athletic, fast linebackers. Eight defensive players on the Louisville team are from Miami. Overall, the Cardinals have 19 south Florida players, 17 of them from Miami.
On special teams FIU has to be wary of former FIU recruit Corvin Lamb. The speedster, whose nickname was the "Lamborghini" coming out of Miami Northwestern High, already has a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.