Louisville Leopards at Minerva Lions 2015 Football Preview
Louisville Leopards (3-1, 1-0) at Minerva Lions (0-4, 0-1)
SPREAD: Louisville By 25 (According to Drew Pasteur’s Fantastic 50)
WHEN: Saturday, September 25 at 7:00 PM
WHERE: Hines Stadium
HIGHLIGHTS: Will be available following the game late Friday night or early Saturday morning right here on louisvilleleopards.org
ALL-TIME SERIES: Louisville leads the all-time series 62-20-5, which includes a 32-9-3 record at Minerva.
LAST MEETING: The Leopards won 44-21 back on October 10, 2014.
LAST MEETING AT MINERVA: The Leopards won 31-7 at Minerva back on October 11, 2013.
On paper this appears to be a huge mismatch in favor of the Leopards who have won 13 out the last 14 games in the series overall. However, this Louisville and Minerva rivalry dates back to 1924 and written in the roots of this game is something much deeper than the casual league game this appears to be from the outside. Will the Leopards continue their dominance of the Lions and the rest of the NBC or will Minerva pull the massive upset to gain their first win of the year? Find out Friday at Hines Stadium!
Louisville is averaging 376 Yards (257 Passing, 119 Rushing) and 33 Points Per Contest on Offense, while allowing 210 Yards (92 Passing, 117 Rushing) and 20 Points Per Game to the opposition.
The Lions Defense is giving up 6 yards per carry this season, so we should see a lot of Runningback Rahzul Young (72 Carries, 402 Yards, 5 Touchdowns) Friday Night. Quarterback Jake Adams (74 of 104 for 1,008 Yards, 12 Touchdowns Passing, 2 Touchdowns Rushing) rebounded against the Aviators last week and will lead the Leopards potent passing game. Tyler Adams (28 Catches, 397 Yards, 5 Touchdowns) and Alec Jones (24 Catches, 249 Yards, 4 Touchdowns) have been his top two targets this season. Conner Bast (10 Catches, 169 Yards, 2 Touchdowns) and Brock Haren (9 Catches, 136 Yards) have also impacted the Louisville Receiving Game.
On Defense, Linebacker Frankie Falcone (26.5 Tackles, 3 Tackle for Loss, 1.5 Sacks, 1 Force Fumble, 1 Interception) leads the team in tackles and Defensive Back Casey Nau (19.5 Tackles, 1 Tackle for Loss, 3.5 Sacks) leads the team in sacks. The Leopards defensive front will play a big role in stopping the run-heavy Lions offense. Looking to stop their running game will be Kyle Ashcraft (15.5 Tackles, 2.5 Tackles for Loss, 1 Sack), Daichi Castles (12.5 Tackles, 1 For Loss, 2.5 Sacks), Cade Stertzbach (12.5 Tackles, 2 Sacks), Jimmy Leonard (10.5 Tackles, 1 Tackle for Loss, 1 Sack, 1 Fumble Recovery), and Justin Vanover (6 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Fumble Recovery). Minerva has turned the ball over 8 times through the air this season, so look for Louisville’s secondary to turn into ballhawks when the Lions decide to pass. Leaders in the defensive backfield include Stephen Kerzan (18.5 Tackles, 1 Forced Fumble), Dalton Deckerd (17 Tackles, 1 Tackle for Loss), Cody Allgood (7.5 Tackles, 1 Interception, 1 Pass Break-Up), Reis Rankin (7.5 Tackles, 0.5 Tackles for Loss, 1 Pass Break-Up), and Brody Hahn (1 Fumble Recovery, 2 Interceptions, 2 Pass Break-Ups)
The Leopards surprised everyone on special teams last week by using the Swinging Gate formation on point afters against the Aviators. Louisville went for two points on their first two scores with Holder/Backup Quarterback Hahn taking the snaps and Linebacker Falcone catch a conversion. They were successful on the first and failed on the second. Even more intriguing was the kicking game as Runningback Young skyed the extra point through the Alliance uprights on Louisville’s third score. Normalcy returned after that with Placekicker Trevor Burk (10 of 14 extra points made) kicking the final three extra points. Sophomore Gavin VanZant took over kickoff duties and helped trap Alliance within their Own 20 to begin the game last week. Leaders in the return game include Tyler Adams (17.6 Average on 8 Kick Returns and 13.0 Average on 2 Punt Returns), Hahn (15.7 Average on 3 Kick Returns and 4.4 Average on 5 Punt Returns), and Corey White who had a 42 yard kick return to start the second half last week at Mount Union Stadium. Both Central Catholic in Week 3 and West Branch in Week 4 returned kickoffs back for touchdowns against the Lions. The Crusaders also took a punt to the house as well. So look for Louisville to exploit any Minerva miscues in the return game.
Minerva is averaging 153 Yards (31 Passing, 123 Rushing) and 9 Points Per Game on Offense, while surrendering 280 Yards (112 Passing, 168 Rushing) and 43 Points Per Contest on Defense. The Lions have been plagued by turnovers amassing 11 (3 Fumbles Lost, 8 Interceptions) through the first four weeks and only recording one interception in the takeaway department on defense.
Junior Fullback Coy Mullins (61 Carries, 360 Yards, 2 Touchdowns) has carried the majority of the load in the backfield of Minerva’s Wing-T Offense. Halfback Adam Gross (22 Carries, 81 Yards, 1 Touchdown) has also taken a significant portion of the Lions 132 rushes this season. The Minerva line is made up of 4 returning letterman and is led at Center by Senior 2nd Team All-NBC selection Jake Preston. Others on the line include: Left Tackle Tim Hogland, Left Guard Luke Walter, Right Guard Bryan Inscoe, and Right Tackle Logan Fritz.
Sophomore Quarterback Shane Walters (13 of 29 for 105 Yards, 1 Touchdown) will be the starter this week, but has shared snaps with Junior Quarterback Brett Russell (10 of 18 for 36 Yards). Top Targets include Gross (4 Catches, 55 Yards, 1 Touchdown), Split End Broc Croston (4 Catches, 25 Yards), Tight End Kyle Gulling (7 Catches, 22 Yards), and Wingback Dakota Romano (3 Catches, 15 Yards).
7 of the Lions 11 starters play both ways including 4 of their 5 lineman as part of their 3-3 Stack Defense. Leading the defensive front is Left Defensive Tackle Preston (19 Tackles, 5 Tackles for Loss, 1 Sack, 1 Forced Fumble) who has spent the most time in the opposition’s backfield. Other impact players on the D-Line include Left End Gross (15 Tackles), Nose Tackle Inscoe (13 Tackles, 1 Tackle for Loss), Right Tackle Logan Fritz (8 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Fumble Recovery), and Right End Connor Fritz (18 Tackles).
Gulling (30 Tackles, 1 Interception) leads the team in tackles a Free Safety. Other starters in the secondary include Russell (4 Tackles) at Left Cornerback and Mullins (23 Tackles) at Right Cornerback. The Minerva Linebacking Core is comprised of LOLB Jason Campbell (24 Tackles, 1 Tackle for Loss), MLB Walter (18 Tackles, 1 Tackle for Loss), and ROLB AJ Vasillui (7 Tackles, 2 Tackles for Loss).
Senior Shem Haas has averaged 32.3 yards on 15 punts this season and is also a perfect 5 for 5 on extra point tries. Campbell (18.9 Avg. on 8 Returns) and Gross (12.9 Avg. on 9 Returns) have emerged as the Lions main kick returners. Minerva has only fielded two punts this season, with one of them being a 63 yard touchdown return by Mullins against St. Thomas Aquinas in Week 2.