A grave weakness from Louisville this season has been their inability to defend. If Utah has any hope of defeating the Cardinals, they will need to exploit this deficiency. That might not appear to be too difficult, as average offenses this season have already bulldozed their way through what is proving to be a very porous Louisville defense.
In their second game of the season, the Cardinal defense gave up 42 points to Middle Tennessee State. Outside of that game, the Blue Raiders have averaged roughly 19 points per game. Not even in the same league as the 42 they dropped on the Cardinals and that was on the road. Then there is Syracuse, a team that managed 38, which is astonishing since outside that one game, the Orange have only averaged a meager 11 points over four games. Louisville is currently giving up 28 points per game, not a good number for a team that was touted as a possible national championship contender prior to the season starting.
Their lackluster defense essentially means Utah's offense needs to execute just well enough to break through. If that happens, then Utah could create a shootout and rely on their better than average defense. But for that to happen, Utah is going to have to step up offensively. As Louisville showed Saturday, they are capable of defending the not-so-good offenses of the world. They held North Carolina State to only 10 points and that was at North Carolina State. Utah's offense, while probably better than the Wolfpack, might not be that much better, which means if the Utes are going to stay with the Cardinals in an offensive shootout, it will take the offense finding its game much like they did against UCLA.
That will require the receivers to block, make catches and not run half-assed routes. Utah's offensive line will also need to step it up, create holes for the running game and keep the pressure off Brian Johnson. Against Utah State last weekend, it appeared the Aggies were able to pressure Johnson and if they can do it, surely Louisville can as well. That's a concern and hopefully something that is addressed this week. If Utah can create a running game behind solid offensive line play and Johnson steps up and performs at a level we have yet to see this season, the Utes could make this game interesting. But with the inconsistencies that have become far more common with Utah this season, I'm not so sure that should be expected.