Miami Hurricanes DBs will be tested by Louisville WRs

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 30: (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 30: (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Miami Hurricanes defensive backs will be tested by a talented trio of wide receivers from Louisville on Saturday.

Louisville will present a challenge for the Miami Hurricanes secondary on Saturday when the pair of top 25 teams meet in primetime on ABC. The top three receivers for the Cardinals had at least 78 yards receiving in Louisville’s 35-21 season-opening victory over Western Kentucky on Saturday.

According to Pro Football Focus, Louisville wide receivers Tutu Atwell, Dez Fitzpatrick and Braden Smith all ranked in the top 30 nationally after their first game of 2020, Atwell had seven receptions for 78 yards, Fitzpatrick and Smith both had 4-110 and a touchdown. Miami will be tested by Louisville QB Micale Cunningham.

Cunningham was 19-34 for 343 yards, three TDs and one interception in the victory against Western Kentucky. The Cardinals passing game torched the Miami Hurricanes last season in a 52-27 loss. Cunningham and backup Evan Conley were 18-29 for 328 yards, two TDs and two INTs at Hard Rock Stadium in 2019.

Atwell did most of the damage against Miami with six receptions for 142 yards and a TD. The TD went for 80 yards off a short pass. The Miami secondary needs to improve from their performance against UAB. UAB had 205 passing yards. Miami mostly controlled the Blazers top WR Austin Watkins holding him to 3-32 and one TD.

Watkins completely turned around Miami starting CB D.J. Ivey on the lone TD. UAB WR Myron Mitchell had eight receptions for 117 yards. Miami cannot let the Lousville WRs get open and especially get behind them. The Hurricanes will be in for a long night if they cannot contain the Louisville WRs.

Starting CBs Al Blades and Ivey ranked 33rd and 71st nationally according to PFF. Blades graded out at a 69.1 in pass coverage and 47.6 against the run with an overall grade of 65.4. Ivey received grades of 54.4 overall,  51.8 against the run and 65.3 in pass coverage. Miami needs more consistent performances from Ivey.

In pass coverage, Blades ranked 25th nationally and Ivey 87th. Sophomore Te’Cory Couch was the third CB for Miami against UAB. If Ivey doesn’t improve, Couch could push him for playing time at the outside CB. Couch graded out 67 overall defensively and 70.8 in pass coverage. Couch’s snaps were evenly distributed at CB.

In 29 snaps against UAB, Coach played two snaps in the box, 12 as the Slot CB, 14 as a wide CB and one at free safety. Couch is undersized at 5’10, 172 pounds, but only Fitzpatrick at 6’2, 210 would be a matchup problem. Atwell is 5’9, 165 with blazing speed and Smith 5’10, 192, Blades and Ivey give Miami more length.

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Blades, Ivey and fourth CB Christian Williams are all listed at 6’1. The Miami coaching staff prefers length throughout the Hurricanes roster. The Louisville passing offense will challenge the Miami secondary. The Cardinals are ninth out of 42 teams nationally in passing yards per game. Miami needs to improve their pass coverage.