Looking for its first Atlantic Coast Conference win, the University of Louisville football team travels to face Boston College Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff at Alumni Stadium.
The Cardinals have won their last two trips to Boston College rather easily, but this might be their biggest trip to the east coast. The Eagles are 4-2 overall and are averaging 39.8 points per game.
After three-straight losses, the Cardinals are in dire need of avoiding their first four-game losing streak since the 2008 season.
Despite the defeats, UofL head coach Bobby Petrino has seen his team improving, especially on offense, where the team has put up its best offensive performances, totaling 483 yards versus Georgia Tech and 421 against Florida State.
“Offensively we’ve been improving, we’ve been correcting things and we’ve gotten a lot better,” Petrino said. “Particularly, at the quarterback position. He’s executed. He’s thrown the ball for the type of percentage that you would like, taking care of the ball. His decision making has been a lot better. So, there’s no question that we’re going to continue to get better.”
One player who has shown remarkable development has been quarterback Jawon Pass, who has nearly thrown for 300 yards in the last two games. He passed for a career high 306 yards against Florida State, and followed it up by completing 65.7 percent of his throws against Georgia Tech, while throwing for 296 yards and two scores.
“There are some really good things you see from Puma—his execution, his decision making, his accuracy is getting better,” Petrino said. “I think his understanding of what’s going on on defense is much better, and his distributing the ball.”
Despite the struggles, the Cardinals have seen flashes of potential from a pair of youngsters – running back Hassan Hall and wide receiver TuTu Atwell.
A true freshman, Hall has rushed for 80 in the last two games and has provided a spark in the return game, averaging 24.6 yards on kick returns this season. Another rookie, Atwell scored a pair of 29-yard touchdown receptions in the loss to Georgia Tech, and is averaging a team-high 18.8 yards a catch.
“You see some young guys making plays,” Petrino said. “I like the way (freshman wide receiver) TuTu’s (Atwell) playing. (Freshman running back) Hassan Hall, although he didn’t get enough carries, and that’s the other thing that happens when you get so far behind is the ability to run the ball the way you’d like to.”
“But, it was good to see him get involved in the passing game, go through his protections, get to his check-downs, and we had some good third down conversions. This is two games in a row where we’ve been up at 58 percent on third down conversions, and that usually doesn’t equal the score that we had the other night.”
In order to halt a three-game slide, the Cardinals face a talented Boston College team, led by All-American running back A.J. Dillon, who rushed for 272 yard and four touchdowns in the Eagles’ 45-42 win at Cardinal Stadium last season.
“He’s a special player. He’s a guy that is not only big and physical, but then, has the speed and can catch the ball out of the backfield and do all kinds of things,” Petrino said. “They had his breakout game against us a year ago when we’re up 21-7 and he made some huge plays and got them back ahead. We came back, we had a chance to win it at the end and didn’t get it done. He’s big, physical—he runs inside, can run outside, can take it all the way. He’s certainly something that they’re going to feed him the football if he’s ready to play.”