Let's take a quick look at the upcoming opponent for Charlie Strong and the Louisville Cardinals football team, the Florida International University Golden Panthers:
Some people like numbers and some despise them but here are a few I'd like to point out.
I point out some of those numbers to caution fans that while the Cards should beat FIU on Saturday, it may prove to be tougher than expected. FIU is loaded with guys from mainly the Miami area and we all know how good a lot of those kids are. One of the guys the Cards will be forced to contain is the above mentioned Senior Runningback, Darian Mallary. Mallary is a 5-foot-8 185 pound speedster from Miami Gulliver Prep. (Picture of Darian Mallary below courtesy of news.fiu.edu)Mallary had a breakout season in 2010 (second on team with 679 rush yards) but only saw action in 6 games in 2011. Mallary has made the most of his opportunities so far this season averaging nearly 55 yards per game rushing and scoring 5 touchdowns. Mallary mainly backs up starter, Kedrick Rhodes(5-foot-11 190 pound Junior) but still averages 101 all purpose yards per game. Rhodes averages 118. Fans should be aware also that in the loss at Duke, Rhodes ran for 130 yards and also had 115 receiving. Medlock has proven that he can throw it and run it and be effective although he has not seen a defense as big and fast as the Cardinals yet. Medlock runs more like a fullback and actually injured a Louisiana linebacker and knocked him out of the game after running over him last year. Another skill position threat for the Panthers is Senior Wide Receiver, Wayne Times(5-foot-11 190 pounds) out of Miami Northwestern. Times set a career high in receptions with 9 against Duke and leads the team with 17 receptions for 182 yards but 0 touchdowns. Times is the go to guy now that T.Y. Hilton (Man I still hate seeing that name) is off to the NFL. Times had 54 catches last year for 540 yards and 2 scores and is a very capable return man as evident in last year's win at Louisville when he averaged 39.5 per kick return. (Picture of Jake Medlock courtesy of fiusports.com)
While FIU's defense has given up 46, 38 and 33 points to Duke, Akron and UCF they do have some good players and guys to be aware of. The defense is led by Senior Safety, Jonathan Cyprien(6-foot-210 pounds), Senior Linebacker, Winston Fraser(6-foot-2 226 ponds) and Sophomore Defensive End, Tourek Williams(6-foot-4 255 pounds) Cyprien and Fraser lead the team in total tackles with 32 and 26 respectively while Williams has the most tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The defense returns 10 starters from last season and their top 8 tacklers. They have had some coverage issues and poor tackling but are primed to have that breakout game and they should be motivated to try and pull the upset of Louisville again. I don't think we will have to worry about our offense taking them lightly as we had issues moving the ball last year and only put up 17 points. One thing I notice about FIU is that they have 7 seniors starting on offense and 5 seniors starting on defense. They have a very underrated coach in Mario Cristobal and plenty of experience to go around on both offense and defense.(Picture of Jonathan Cyprien couretesy of abcnews.com)
Final Analysis and Prediction: While I do think that FIU does have the talent and depth to definitely pull another upset, I just don't think it will be in the cards(no pun intended). The Cards may have overlooked FIU last year and that coupled with the fact that they were a much less experienced team last year is probably what led to the upset. FIU is also currently 0-5 vs Top 25 teams and after the implosion last weekend vs. UNC I fully expect the Cardinals to go into the game well prepared and ready for a hard fought game. "We will have some time set aside for the kids to visit their families and friends but we are going down there and approaching this as a business trip" said Coach Charlie Strong. Louisville is hungry for redemption for last year's loss and the Florida natives on the roster do not want to leave the state without bragging rights. Louisville puts together 4 solid quarters with effort and execution and impresses the sunshine state recruits that will be on hand.
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