Louisville lost Lamar Jackson to the NFL, but the remaining Cardinals have not suffered a lack of confidence without their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Or at least not Cardinals wideout Dez Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick (above, left) appeared at Louisville’s media day on Saturday and declared his Cardinals wide receiving corps could match up with Alabama’s secondary man-for-man.
“Every receiver in our receiver corps can honestly beat every one of their DBs one-on-one in coverage,” Fitzpatrick said. “It ties into the other stuff, if the blocks are right, if the quarterback’s drop is right, we ran eight-yard routes instead of a 10-yard route, that’s the kind of stuff I feel like we need to sharpen up.
“But I feel like straight talent-wise, I feel like we have the upper edge against their secondary, 1,000 percent.”
Fitzpatrick was Louisville’s second-leading receiver as a redshirt freshman, hauling in 45 grabs for 699 yards with nine touchdowns. Senior Jaylen Smith led the Cards a year ago with 60 receptions for 980 yards and seven scores, and No. 3 receiver, junior Seth Dawkins, is also back. Alabama underwent a wholesale change in its defensive secondary — cornerbacks Anthony Averett and Levi Wallace and star Tony Brown graduated, while safeties Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison declared early for the NFL. The Tide also lost defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley.
But the most important piece of Alabama’s pass defense is back, and that’s Nick Saban. New coordinator Tosh Lupoi and new defensive backs coach Karl Scott are expected to plug-and-play a new unit that will still rank among the best in college football.
But not good enough to shut down Louisville and its new quarterback, Jawon Pass, at least according to Fitzpatrick.
A game with a 31-point spread just became slightly more interesting.
Oh what a difference a year makes for N.C. State and Louisville.
After a lopsided result that was not in their favor last season, the 24th-ranked Wolfpack are giving No. 17 Louisville everything they can handle on both sides of the ball to lead 17-10 at halftime of an intriguing ACC battle down in Raleigh.
Neither team could get much going offensively in the first quarter, with Heisman winner Lamar Jackson being well contained by that tough NCSU defensive line led by Bradley Chubb. Once the clock ticked over to the second quarter however, both offenses started to get going with some big plays.
Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley (268 yards, one touchdown) kicked things off, lobbing a perfectly thrown pass into the waiting arms of Kelvin Harmon for a 48-yard touchdown. State tacked on a field goal on their ensuing possession following a 79 yard catch and run by superstar all-purpose threat Jaylen Samuels and then scored again just before the break. We’ll see if the team can keep that second quarter momentum up despite losing starting center Garrett Bradbury with a chest injury but their final two drives without him bodes well for them to do just that.
Jackson and the Cardinals also found a little bit of a rhythm in the second frame, as the dual-threat signal-caller racked up 190 yards through the air by halftime. He found Seth Dawkins for the team’s only touchdown early in the second quarter, which was a bobbling affair down near the end zone before the wideout hauled it in for the score.
There are a ton of major sporting events going on Thursday night but the lone college football game on the slate has turned out to be a pretty good one despite the relative low score. We’ll see if either side can make some big adjustments — especially defensively for the higher ranked team — in order to pull out a key win in the ACC Atlantic race.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner won’t have his favorite target in the passing game as his ongoing attempt at back-to-back stiff-armed hardware continues.
Bobby Petrino announced Saturday morning that Jaylen Smith will not play in today’s game against Kent State, set for a noon ET kickoff. The wide receiver is dealing with an injury to his left wrist; it’s unclear when he sustained the injury.
The Louisville Courier-Journal writes that “[m]ore information on Smith’s injury should be available after the game.”
This season, Smith is far and away the Cardinals’ leading receiver, totaling 22 catches for 379 yards through the first three games of the season. Seth Dawkins is next with 11 receptions, while Dez Fitzpatrick‘s 211 yards are second on the team.
Last season, Smith led the Cards in averaging 22.2 yards per catch. This season, he was at 17.2 ypc.