The 17th-ranked Miami Hurricanes will visit the 18th-ranked Louisville Cardinals in an early season high-stakes ACC matchup on Saturday night.
Both teams are 1-0 with second-year coaches: Scott Satterfield, who is 9-5 overall since arriving at Louisville; and Manny Diaz, who is 7-7 at Miami.
Louisville will be looking for revenge after Miami drilled the Cardinals 55-27 at home last year.
"We had a lot of things go wrong," Satterfield said.
A lot has changed since that game, especially for Miami. Quarterback Jarren Williams, who torched Louisville with a school-record six touchdown passes, but was largely ineffective the rest of the season, transferred to Garden City Community College in Kansas.
The Hurricanes also lost several players to either graduation, the NFL or opting out due to coronavirus concerns. Those included leading rusher Deejay Dallas, leading receiver K.J. Osborn, leading tackler Shaq Quarterman, top cornerback Trajan Bandy and the leader in sacks Greg Rousseau, with 15.5.
What remains still appears to be a talented team, led by electric dual-threat quarterback D'Eriq King, who is already being mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate. The Houston graduate transfer has an active NCAA-record streak of 16 consecutive games with at least one TD pass and one TD run.
Miami, with a new offensive coordinator in Rhett Lashlee, will play fast, which tends to not allow much time for defensive substitutions. It's an offense that also tires out defenses, and that appeared to happen last week in a 31-14 win over UAB as the Hurricanes rushed for 337 yards.
Cam'ron Harris (134 yards, 7.9 average) led the way. But King (83 yards) and dynamic freshmen Jaylan Knighton (59 yards) and Don Chaney Jr. (52 yards) also contributed. All three averaged well over 6.0 yards per carry.
King, playing his first game since the death of his father, completed 16 of 24 passes for 144 yards and one TD. He had no turnovers but did miss an open receiver in the end zone.
"We have to pass the ball better," King said. "But running the ball is the key to our success."
Louisville, which defeated Western Kentucky 35-21 in its opener, wants to show that its defense is much improved. Against WKU, the Cardinals allowed three touchdowns. The first two were on "drives" of 1 and 4 yards, following a dropped snap by the punter and a blocked punt. The third score came on a 37-yard scamper against backups late in the fourth quarter.
Overall, the Cardinals had 10 tackles for a loss, three sacks and one successful goal-line stand.
"I thought our defense played outstanding," Satterfield said.
Offensively, the Cardinals showed they can be dangerous. They had four plays of more than 40 yards against WKU, and junior quarterback Micale Cunningham completed 19 of 34 passes for 343 yards, three TDs and one interception.
Cardinals receiver Tutu Atwell, a Miami native who is one of the most elusive receivers in the nation, had a team-high seven catches for 78 yards. Teammates Dez Fitzpatrick and Braden Smith each had 110 yards in receptions, taking advantage of the extra attention paid by WKU on Atwell.
Last year, Atwell burned Miami for six catches and 142 yards, including an 80-yard score. In contrast, Miami, which has a strong pass rush, is probably weakest on defense at cornerback, which could open up the Louisville passing game.
Miami did show it has improved its special teams with the addition of elite kicker Jose Borregales. Louisville, on the other hand, has shown issues with its punt team.
Hurricanes All-American tight end Brevin Jordan, who missed last season's Louisville game due to injury, is now healthy.
--Field Level Media