One week from today all the talk and speculation of what this years version of Louisville football has to offer will be over. Actual football will be played and I am giving you this week to decide if you want to continue with all the hype or if you want to pump the brakes a bit. I understand either way but if you decide to jump off the hype train please don’t try to jump back on when we take down FSU because you will be met with more resistance than a Miami defensive back from a Mario Urrutia stiff arm.
It’s time folks! Are you all in? I always like to keep it real and I will be the first to tell you when I think our expectations are too high. Over the past few years I have released several hype videos trying to promote and build excitement for the football season but I have also been able to keep my expectations to a reasonable level. Last year I said we would lose 4 games. I was called all sorts of names and said I didn’t believe in the team. I said I was just being honest of how I felt. You have seen my game by game predictions and this year I honestly believe 11 wins is a very real possibility. My mind says 10 wins but my heart screams 11. Sometimes you just have to trust your heart.
If you want to pump the brakes, I understand and here is why,
- Since Bobby Petrino has returned to Louisville he has exactly 0 wins over ranked teams. In fact he is 0-6. His Biggest wins are over an unranked Notre Dame team and an unranked Texas A&M team who lost their top 2 quarterbacks just a couple of weeks before the game and they only won by 6 points.
- Lamar Jackson has not been the starting quarterback for 2 consecutive games. We don’t know if he can be an every game starter just yet. We might need to see it before we believe it. Also scared of the “Sophomore Slump”.
- That schedule is brutal facing 3 ranked teams including #4 Florida State and on the road at #2 Clemson.
- The offensive line was so young last year and Louisville gave up 44 sacks ranking 124 of 127 in FBS. Has it improved enough to give Lamar time to find an open receiver or open a hole for a running back?
- Sheldon Rankins and James Burgess are gone to the NFL. Those losses are not easily replaced. Who is going to stop the run?
- Everyone is calling Louisville the “dark horse ” or saying they are “flying under the radar.” Well now that everyone is noticing Louisville they are no longer in that underdog role that they seem to thrive on. How will they handle the role of having greater expectations from the talking heads?
- There are no returning kickers on the roster. Every kicker/punter on the team is a freshman or redshirt freshman. None of them have ever kicked in a real college game.
If you want to continue on the hype train with me, I understand and here is why,
- Louisville is returning 16 players (2nd most in the country) from a team that won 8 games and won the Music City Bowl over a SEC school.
- Louisville may have only won the bowl game by 6 points but if you actually watched the game you saw a coming out party for Lamar Jackson and you saw major improvement and growth from almost the whole team.
- Lamar Jackson only knew about 30% of the plays last season and said he would look at his first receiver and if he wasn’t open then his instinct was to just run and try to make a play. Lamar now knows the whole playbook and has a better command of the offense.
- The offensive line was just learning the system last year and started 2 true freshman. Geron Christian said he didn’t know most of the plays and the coaches were telling him where to go on many of the plays. The line should be much improved now that they all know the plays and have a full year of experience. Also last year everyone on the line was fighting for position. This year the positions have been determined giving the players time to work on their skills at their position without having to worry about losing their spot. Piece of mind and confidence can be a major factor in improved performance.
- Louisville has the deepest and most talented receiving corp in the nation (my opinion). Jaylen Smith said he got so much playing time last year because he knew all the plays and some of the transfers and newer guys didn’t know all plays and routes. This year the whole group knows every detail of every play.
- Louisville is also loaded at running back and tight end. Lamar has an unlimited amount of weapons at his disposal on every single play.
- The defense ranked #18 in total defense last year and returns 4 players that turned down the NFL including preseason first team All-American Devonte Fields.
- This is your school and you should support it no matter what.
So I am not only riding this hype train, I am the conductor of the train. I plan on driving it full steam ahead straight through the ACC and all the way to a New Years day bowl game. Why am I so confident you say? Glad you asked. Above and beyond all the things I already listed is Bobby Petrino. His statements of getting back to lighting up the scoreboard and wanting the fans to start tailgating the night before are a telling sign of his excitement for this season. Last season all he ever said was ” we are working and trying to get better”. More telling than his words are his facial expressions and tone of his voice in every interview that I have seen this summer. His usual monotone Belichick-esque inflection in his voice has a slight uptick to it this year. The words coming out of his mouth are leaking an immense amount of confidence. Bobby knows exactly what he has and he knows its something special. Think you have seen that type of confidence before? That’s because it’s eerily similar to Rick Pitino’s confidence prior to the 2013 basketball season. How did that work out for ya?
As Always, GO CARDS!