Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Louisville Cardinals Preview


The Wake Forest Demon Deacons begin the conference season a little differently than they hoped. They hoped to have worked out their offensive kinks in order to support their leaders on defense. However that has not happened yet, though it shows signs of getting better.

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This week the Demon Deacons get thrown into the fire of the Louisville Cardinals, the ACC newcomer that looked like it might take the league by storm in week 1. That was when they beat Miami comfortably, but they followed that up with a week 2 loss to Virginia in Charlottesville. This makes Louisville the team that has played the most in conference games so far.

Charlie Strong left Louisville in great shape for his successor. The Cardinals have the pieces at quarterback and wide receiver that new coach Bobby Petrino would want, but the system is still new to them. Strong also left behind a good defense. Most importantly, Strong did not leave any character issues in the program. That is something that Bobby Petrino is not known for.

Date: September 27

Time: 3:30 PM


Venue: Papa John Stadium (Louisville, KY)

Last Time: 2007 Orange Bowl: Cardinals 24 Demon Deacons 13

The best of the Wake Forest teams under Jim Grobe met the best of the Louisville teams under Bobby Petrino following the 2006 season. Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm threw for 311 yards, but trickery gained the Cardinals their first touchdown as Patrick Carter threw to running back Anthony Allen.

Wake Forest gained the lead at 13-10 in the fourth quarter behind the leg of Sam Swank, but that was to be it for the Deacons. Allen and Brock Bolen ran in the next two scores to give Louisville the victory.

Sep 20, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Bobby Petrino in the first quarter of a game against the FIU Golden Panthers at FIU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: Louisville Cardinals (3-1)

In some sense, the previous games that Wake has played do not matter. This is their first conference game and so it can be a fresh start.

Louisville’s offense has been dominant at times this season. The Cardinals had little trouble putting up points on Miami and Florida International, making them 2-0 against South Beach area teams in Florida. They also scored 66 on Murray State.

The outlier was the two point loss to Virginia. There the story was turnovers as Will Gardner threw two interceptions. Without those turnovers, Virginia does not keep pace in that ball game. This brings up a problem for Wake Forest. They have shown little propensity to play shootout ball, and against a team like Louisville, that could well mean a rout.

Will Gardner is supported by a variety of weapons on offense. He has two good backs in Dominique Brown and Michael Dyer behind him. If Dyer sounds familiar it is because he is the same Michael Dyer who was on Auburn’s national championship run with Cam Newton.

Sep 20, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Louisville Cardinals running back Michael Dyer runs the ball between FIU Golden Panthers linebacker Anthony Wint (53) and defensive end Michael Wakefield (55) in the first quarter at FIU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

There are several seniors in the receiving corps, leaving Gardner with a fair amount of weapons. DeVante Parker, Eli Rogers, Robert Clark, and tight end Gerald Christian are all seniors. Now throw in an offensive line that has four seniors and a junior, and you are looking at a team that should play fairly consistently all year. It also does not look like the best natural matchup for the Wake Forest 4-2-5 set, since the line should be solid.

On defense, former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is converting the team to a 3-4 arrangement, which is good timing since Louisville lost a number of linemen to graduation in the off-season. There are a number of experienced linebackers to take advantage of in this new 3-4 set. Lurking at the pass rushing outside linebacker position is converted end Lorenzo Mauldin, the biggest pressure threat for Louisville.

Both safeties are new for Louisville, but the secondary is another place where Strong left the cupboard full with juniors and seniors.

Prediction: Cardinals 42 Demon Deacons 10
ONJ Season Record: 15-2

The more I look at Louisville, the more of a monster it appears to be. This, not Clemson, may be the biggest threat to FSU’s attempt to repeat as national champs. Wake Forest has not demonstrated that they can handle a team like this, of course they have not played a team like this. Maybe they can get lucky like Virginia did and get turnovers, but I think that only happens once.