When the 19th-ranked Cardinals take the field on offense on Saturday afternoon, they will do it against an eye-catching and athletic defensive unit from North Carolina. Guided by first-year coordinator Dan Disch, the Tar Heels’ defense is led by junior safety Tre Boston (16 total stops) and senior linebacker Kevin Reddick, who has 14 tackles through two games.
“They’re big and fast,” said Louisville sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. “They have a new coaching staff over there, so they have a different defensive strategy this year. We want to watch more film on where the defensive coordinator worked previously and continue to get an edge on those guys.”
Last year, Louisville dropped a disappointing 14-7 decision to UNC in Chapel Hill. With a new coaching staff on board under the direction of head coach Larry Fedora, the Tar Heels have implemented an up-tempo, no-huddle offensive attack which could put added pressure on the Cardinals’ offense in this year’s matchup.
“We’re not worried about their offense and the number of plays they run,” Bridgewater told reporters. “We just want to go out and execute our game plan. If our game plan consists of a 12-play drive, then it’ll be a 12-play drive. We’re not going to try and keep their offense off the field. We just want to execute our offense.”
The effectiveness of the Louisville offense could be determined by the disruption up front from the Tar Heels’ defensive line. With linemen like junior end Kareem Martin (6-6, 260), senior tackle Sylvester Williams (6-3, 305), junior tackle Tim Jackson (6-5, 270) and sophomore tackle Ethan Farmer (6-3, 280), UNC will bring a lot of size and athleticism to field on Saturday.
“People seem to think we look at the size (of a defensive line) and all that stuff a lot, but I really don’t,” said Cardinals’ senior center Mario Benavides. “I’ve always been an undersized guy my whole career, so I don’t put a whole lot into how big somebody is. I just watch the film and to me, it’s more important how big they play as opposed to how big they really are.”
Whatever happens when the Cardinals’ have the ball on offense against North Carolina, head coach Charlie Strong expects the game to serve as a great test in revealing the progress of his third Louisville squad.
“They are very aggressive on defense and very solid in the kicking game, so this will be a great test for our program,” said Strong. “I think this weekend we will find out exactly who we are as a football program and find out what steps we need to continue to make to continue this program in the right direction.”