Boston College hosts its first ACC opponent of the season, taking on Louisville on Saturday.
The Cardinals have a much different offense than the last time they played at Alumni Stadium. This year, they are without quarterback Lamar Jackson. In November 2016, Louisville stomped into Alumni Stadium and cruised to a 52-7 victory.
The Louisville offense has taken a hit this season with Jackson’s departure, averaging 20.5 points with a high of 31. Redshirt sophomore Jawon Pass is leading the offense this season and, despite adjusting to the lead role, has proven to be a talented quarterback.
“New normal and a good talented team finding its way, that’s college football,” said BC coach Steve Addazio. “This time of year, a lot of teams come out of their malaise a little bit. A light goes on, you start to get a little bit more experience.”
The biggest question mark for BC is the status of AJ Dillon.
The sophomore running back suffered an ankle injury against Temple Sept. 29. He did not play in last Saturday’s 28-23 loss at North Carolina State.
Through five games, Dillon has 652 rushing yards on 106 carries and six touchdowns.
Dillon’s return could be crucial against a Louisville team that has struggled stopping the run.
In last week’s 66-31 loss to Georgia Tech, the Cardinals (2-4, 0-3 ACC) allowed 542 yards and eight rushing touchdowns on the ground.
“[Dillon’s] made good improvement over the weekend,” said Addazio. “He’s working real hard on rehab, he’s just got to get his strength back and feel good. I just don’t know when that will be.”
Since opening the season 3-0, the Eagles have stumbled, going 1-2 in their last three, with their defense allowing 93 points in the past three games.
The defensive shortcomings have been on third down, with opponents converting 54.2 percent in that span.
Louisville has converted 39.2 percent of third downs this season, allowing opponents to do so at 48.2 percent.
“We are addressing some things on defense we are trying to do better,” said Addazio. “Getting off the field on third down and stopping the run. We’ve got some issues that we are all working on, doing that all the while trying to stay healthy.”