December 27, 2016 Louisville, KY. (Analyzed Sports)
Citrus Bowl Preview: Louisville Cardinals vs LSU Tigers
This was quite possibly the best bowl game outside of the New Year’s six bowl games. But with the news that LSU running back Leonard Fournette will skip the game in preparations for the upcoming NFL draft the game has lost some luster. Even without Fournette this is still a battle between top 25 programs. This will be LSU’s fourth appearance in the Citrus Bowl. Its last appearance was a 19-17 loss to Penn State in 2010.This game is the first time Louisville has appeared in the bowl. This will also be the first time LSU and Louisville have ever met on the football field.
Louisville comes into the game with the Heisman Trophy winner. Electric quarterback Lamar Jackson must recover from a two-game streak losing to Houston and hated rival Kentucky. Meanwhile, LSU will play in its first game with Ed Orgeron as its official head coach. After a 2-2 start, the Tigers won five of their last seven under Orgeron.
Louisville hit a wall in its final two games of the season. Turnovers were the key reason for the loses; the Cardinals turned it over a combined seven times in their last two games. The best defense against the Cardinals seemed to be the Cardinals. LSU’s defensive coordinator Dave Aranda is going to lose sleep during the holiday season on how to contain the sophomore QB. Jackson has 3,390 yards and 30 touchdowns passing to go with 1,538 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground.
But he didn’t have the Cardinals in the playoff hunt by himself. It may seem like he’s the only player on Louisville’s offense at times, but let’s not forget running back Brandon Radcliff. He’s averaging 6.6 yards per carry this season. The Cardinals also have ALL-ACC receivers James Quick and Cole Hikutini.
On defense, the Cardinals are home to one of the best defense in the ACC. Standout defensive back Josh Harvey-Clemons is the leader of the secondary and has played extremely well before the losing streak. LSU should be worry about the throwing the deep ball. Jaire Alexander has five interceptions and Chucky Williams has three. Also, try to keep DeAngelo Brown, James Hearns and Devonte Fields out of your backfield, because they treat the backfield has their second home. Devonte Fields is a top NFL prosepect.
Defensively it will come as no surprise that LSU has some studs with NFL futures. Safety Jamal Adams is an absolute beast, and he’ll be one of the first names you hear during the NFL Draft. Also linebackers Kendell Beckwith and Duke Riley are great linebackers with sideline to sideline speed, and linemen Arden Key and Davon Godchaux go to work all day long.
LSU is probably deeper than Louisville, but the Cardinals make up for it by having the far superior quarterback in Lamar Jackson. Danny Etling, it’s nothing personal, it’s just reality. The key will be how well Louisville’s offensive line can do against LSU’s front seven in protecting Jackson, and also how LSU responds to Jackson improvising when plays break down.
The Cardinals have been playing in fast-paced, high-scoring affairs. LSU prefers to plays physical brand of football with a strong running game and hardnose defense. The unstoppable force is set to meet an immovable object in Orlando. Which side is going to give? We’ll have the answer going into 2017.