If you take a step back and look at the schedule, you would realistically think that after 3 games, Louisville would be 2-1. Correct? Well, Louisville is exactly 2-1. So everything is fine. Right? It would appear so just by looking at the record, but upon further review, the way that the 2-1 record was earned, was much more of a struggle than anticipated.
If you are like me then you thought Louisville would keep it within 17 points against Alabama. Turns out Alabama is much better than I thought. Chalk that loss up to getting beat by the best team in the country. The margin of defeat didn’t really matter.
Then came Indianan State – a game I thought Louisville would win 62-0. I didn’t anticipate the game being played in a topical storm. I also didn’t anticipate Louisville struggling to run the ball, score or stop the run. However, once the rain stopped and a change at QB was made, the Cards started playing better and pulled away for a 24 Point victory.
Next was the most recent game against WKU. Louisville figured to win by a couple of scores but we thought it would be just a little more challenging than Indiana State. Louisville struggled early as the offense seemed stagnant. They found themselves down 14 points before they even completed a pass. Jawon Pass was pulled again but this time he had only thrown 3 passes – 2 dropped passes and a interception. Louisville got lucky and pulled out a 3 point victory.
So the record is exactly like we thought it would be at this point of the season. So why is everybody so down on this team? The realistic goal of an 8 or 9 win season is still attainable. The only certain loss left on the schedule would be at Clemson. Every other game is winnable.
In my opinion, there are 2 reasons why Louisville hasn’t played like we had expected.
The first is the offensive line. There is no consistency as this game vs Virginia will be the 4th different lineup in 4 games. Bentley started the season at center but Scheler has started the last 2. McNeil, Becton, Thomas and Bentley have been moved around between guard and tackle. I’m not quite sure why all the moving around but hopefully it will help improve the blocking. The blocking hasn’t been great and it seems that Louisville doesn’t run the ball well out of the shotgun. Maybe this is because the offensive line is expected to hold their blocks longer. Also, I believe that the style of blocking that this team is accustomed to is for a scrambling quarterback and not a pocket passer. All they have ever done since they have been in college is block for Lamar. That is what they are familiar with so it would seem that blocking for Malik wouldn’t be much of a change from last year. Expect to see improvement on the offensive line as they find their way. Once they do, expect to see more points on the board.
The second reason, I believe, is play calling. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying I know more than Bobby. He has forgotten more about football that I will ever know. But after watching his teams for years, there are certain plays and formations that almost always produce positive results. I’m not seeing those plays called enough or at all.
Bobby always says his philosophy is “feed the studs.” The receivers are the studs and they are not getting the ball enough. Not sure if it’s play calling, QB not seeing them open, lost confidence after a couple of drops or if there is some other reason, but I know the ball needs to be finding Jaylen, Dez and Seth more often for the Louisville offense to be successful. Hopefully, Bobby calls their number more often. But this is just my opinion.
There are several plays that are considered stapes in a Bobby Petrino offensive. One is the wheel route. We saw Jawon throw it just slightly over the outstretched hands of Trey Smith in the Alabama game. It was the perfect call at the perfect time but it just missed. I don’t recall that play being run since then. Another play is the backside pass where everyone goes right except the slot receiver or tight end and the QB starts to his right and throws it back to the left. Another play is the one that James Quick came up 1 yard short against Clemson. That play almost always gets positive results. Remember, it was 4th and 12 and he got 11. I’ll take 11 yards almost every time. Bobby also likes to use his tight ends a lot. In the 2 games since the Alabama game, where Crum and Averett combined for 9 receptions and 2 touchdowns, the tight ends combined have exactly 2 receptions and 47 yards (all by Crum). That must improve to be a potent offense. Another play that is signature Petrino is where the pass goes to the fastest running back out in the flats. That play has been called but poor blocked has not allowed it to be successful.
Forgive me for not knowing the names of these plays but I know what I see and I’m not liking it.
I’m not ready to join many fans in the fire Bobby talk. If I am correct, all of these problems can (and will) be fixed. I still believe in Bobby but he has got to get his O-line straightened out, get back to feeding the studs and calling the right plays. If you are on the fire Bobby team, I’m not mad at you. I understand that 1-11 vs ranked teams and not winning bowl games can be reason enough for that stance. However, I would ask you to hold that thought for about 9 more games. If Louisville loses to Virginia then the chatter will intensify but I will hold out on forming my opinion until the seasons win total is complete. Or a loss to UK – because after all, thats why he “fired” Grantham.
As Always, GO CARDS!