Anytime I go to a UofL football game, I like to watch it back on DVR before typing up too much about it. It is easy to have initial thoughts and reactions while at the game, but you do notice a lot more when you watch it again on TV. So since I finally was able to do that and I just finished with it, I will close the book on the Wake Forest game with these few thoughts, before moving on to Syracuse.
*I believe that Reggie Bonnafon had a very good game. In my 3 quick hitters after the game, I mentioned this, but I have to expand on that after seeing the game again. If you just look at the stats, you would think he was average at best. He threw for 206 yards on 16/32 passing and did not throw for a touchdown. He also did not have an interception. He rushed for 46 yards on 14 carries. Two of those carries were on 3rd and long and he picked up the 1st down with big runs. Huge plays!
Speaking of 3rd and long, the rest of the offense did not do him any favors when it came to down and distance. In the first quarter, actually on the same drive, the offense for the Cards had two different penalties on 3rd down that backed them up to 3rd and long. On 3rd and 9, there was an illegal substitution that backed it up to 3rd and 14. Bonnafon would actually convert that into a 1st down with a great throw to Eli Rogers, but that kind of penalty just can’t happen. Then on 3rd and 4, the Cards were called for a chop block, backing them up to 3rd and 18. On the next play, Bonnafon was sacked. Before the chop block was called, Louisville had picked up that 1st down on 3rd and 4.
Penalties weren’t the only thing that didn’t help Bonnafon out. There were a few passes that should have been caught that were dropped. I am not saying every single pass ever made should be caught, but when the strength of your offense is supposed to be wide receiver, you have to do a little extra to help out your freshman quarterback. If some of those passes are caught, the chains keep moving and the drives are extended.
So I don’t think the numbers that Bonnafon put up tell the whole story. I thought he played decent when I was watching him at the game, but he was even better than that after looking at it again. He showed great poise. He wasn’t perfect, the fumble in the endzone was bad. And the two fumbles when handing the ball off to Dominique Brown are issues that need to be fixed. Unforced turnovers will come back and haunt you against a better team. But all in all, I thought the freshman showed great promise.
*Not sure how many other people notice this, but I never see James Quick tell his teammates to get away when he isn’t going to field the punt. I think that Quick wants to make a big play on every single punt, and because of that, he waits until the very last second to decide to let it just bounce. But in doing so, his teammates are continuing to block for him, unaware that the ball is going to bounce and could hit them.
There were definitely a couple of close calls in this game. There was also almost a repeat of the Virginia game. With 6:30 left to play and Louisville up 7, Eli Rogers cut right in front of Quick to field the punt. The two almost collided, showing there was no communication on that play. If something happens there and Wake Forest recovers a fumble, they have the ball around midfield, only down 7.
Maybe he is yelling and if so, obviously I wouldn’t hear that. But usually you see the returner waving their arms to motion for everyone to get away from the ball. I have not seen that.
*I was hoping the fake punt would be saved for another game. It is hard to pull off trick plays like that more than once in a season, so teams will likely be looking for it now. Dominique Brown always lines up right where the long snapper can snap the ball to him, so I have always noticed that a fake would be possible. But hopefully they can design another type of fake and use it in a bigger game if it is needed. In that situation against Wake Forest, just punt the ball and let the defense continue to dominate.
*Michael Dyer continues to get some of the rust off after injuries have plagued his two year career at UofL. He had 41 yards on Saturday, and I thought he played pretty well. Brandon Radcliff obviously stole the show on offense, but since I am always looking for Dyer to break out, I was paying attention to his carries. There was one that went for -3 yards and another one or two that went for a yard, so those hurt his average for the day. But he did have a few carries that went for 4 or 5 yards.
He still isn’t quite back to form yet, and it still could be another game or two before that happens. But I still feel like it’s going to happen. I don’t think a 30 or 40 yard game is the norm for Michael Dyer. I have been saying that since he got here, so I might as well stick to it, right? A big game from him is coming, and with the way the rest of the schedule sets up, there are some good games for it to finally happen.
*It is weird and unexpected, but the guys on defense are becoming household names with Louisville fans. Mauldin, Burgess, Kelsey, Holliman, Gaines, Rankins, Mount, Sample, and more just continue to impress. I didn’t think this fanbase could appreciate defense as much as they do. But to constantly see people stand and get loud on 3rd downs is just awesome. (Now if we can teach people to not be that loud when Louisville has the ball and it’s 3rd down…)
Sheldon Rankins is clogging up the middle while Lorenzo Mauldin is living in the backfield with the quarterback. The linebackers are either blitzing or making tackles right around the line of scrimmage. The secondary has been a pleasant surprise, especially Gerod Holliman. He is a hard hitter and a ball hawk, with 6 interceptions already.
Two newcomers to the defense that may get overlooked are James Sample and Pio Vatuvei. Both are junior college transfers that have come in and made immediate impacts.
*The 20 points scored by Louisville was probably disappointing to some. If John Wallace makes the 2 field goals he missed, sure handed receivers make the catches they are supposed to, and costly penalties don’t happen, you could have seen 40 points put up by UofL. Coulda, woulda, and shoulda don’t mean too much if it ends up costing you the win. Just saying that if a few things just go a little bit differently, 20 could have been 40.
I am very happy that Louisville is 4-1 and 2-1 in the ACC. Things get tough going on the road this week to Syracuse, a place that hasn’t been so friendly to UofL in the past. Let’s get this win and improve to 5-1 and 3-1.
Go Cards! Go Krogering!
And for fun, here is this again…