Matchup Notebook: Louisville Defense vs. Connecticut Offense

The Need to Get Off the Field
One of the biggest problems facing the Louisville defense this season is the inability to get off the field on third down. Louisville limited Temple to 2-of-10 on third down and 7-of-25 over the last two games prior to the loss at Syracuse. The Cardinals held Cincinnati to 5-of-15 on third down on Oct. 26. The Cardinals are allowing the opposition to convert 41.6 percent on the “money down.” However, against the Orange, the Cardinals were not able to get off the field. Syracuse converted an amazing 14-of-19 chances in the 45-26 loss. The Cardinals rank 103rd in the country in third-down defense, allowing the opposition to convert on 46.21 percent of their chances. However, if the down shifts to fourth, the Cardinals are one of the best in the country in stopping their opponents. The opposition is has been stopped 4-of-18 times, which ranks as the fifth-best percentage in the nation.

McCombs Hits 100-Yard Mark Again for Huskies
Redshirt sophomore running back Lyle McCombs has rushed for more than 100 yards eight times in his career, including twice this season for Connecticut. Most recently, he rushed for 129 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown in the Huskies’ 24-17 win over Pittsburgh on Nov. 9. McCombs, who has 667 yards rushing (74.1 yards per game) and five touchdowns this season, is already eighth on UConn’s career rushing attempts leaderboard with 468 entering Saturday’s game. In 2011, McCombs had a breakout season for the Huskies rushing for 1,151 yards and seven touchdowns on 275 carries. He was named a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America and was a Second Team All-BIG EAST selection.

100-Yard Rushers Becoming Too Common
The Cardinals have given up five 100-yard rushers this season and four straight after Syracuse’s Jerome Smith rushed for 144 yards on Nov. 10. The Cardinals gave up 100-yard rushers in wins over Cincinnati and USF. Louisville gave up 102 yards on the ground to FIU’s Jeremiah Harden in the 28-21 win on Sept. 22. Harden carried 20 times to become the first player to rush for 100 yards on the Cardinals since Cincinnati’s Isaiah Pead, who ran for 151 yards in a win for the Bearcats last season at Paul Brown Stadium. The Cardinals went a span of 11 games without giving up a 100-yard rusher. Southern Mississippi’s Desmond Johnson missed the century mark by running for 99 yards.

Davis Leads UConn Receivers
Redshirt sophomore Geremy Davis leads the Connecticut receiving corps this season with 556 yards on 37 catches and one touchdown. After making just six catches for 73 yards in all of 2011, Davis had a career best nine catches for 123 yards and his first career touchdown in the win over Western Michigan earlier this season. The guy throwing those passes to Davis is redshirt sophomore quarterback Chandler Whitmer. In his first season as the Huskies’ starter, Whitmer has thrown for 2,328 yards (232.8 yards per game) while completing 185-of-309 passes for eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Louisville Solid Against the Pass
The Cardinals have had their problems against the run this season, but they have played pretty well against the pass. Louisville ranks 23rd in the nation against the pass, allowing 194.9 yards per game. Louisville gave up 246 yards through the air versus Syracuse, which was the most since allowing 287 yards on Oct. 13 versus Pittsburgh. The Cardinals gave up 54 yards in a 45-17 win over Temple and 25 in a win over Southern Mississippi on Sept. 29. Louisville has allowed over 200 yards passing in just four games this year, which included a season-high 363 versus North Carolina. The opposition is completing just 60.9 percent of its throws this year.

Cardinals Look to Create More Turnovers
Louisville ranks 68th in the nation in turnovers forced through the first 10 games. The Cardinals have created 11 fumbles and six interceptions this year, but failed to turnover the Orange in the 45-26 loss on Nov. 10. It was the second time this year that they failed to create a turnover. They are ranked 33rd in the nation in fumbles recovered. Prior to the Syracuse game, the Cardinals had created 10 turnovers over the previous four games.

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