By Andrew Phelps
Over 300 million people live in this country, and I would wager the majority of them find it very easy to identify problems and complain about what is wrong. Negativity surrounds us, and can easily take control of our lives. People who strive to find solutions, and only believe in remedies are the ones we should listen to and believe in. The problems with Louisville football are simple and blatant. Our Cardinals cannot score touchdowns, and are petitioning to have yellow become the official school color as they appear destined to lead the nation in penalties. I am a man with a keyboard, average typing abilities and I am not a football coach. However, opinions are like elbows, and everyone has them.
Before I begin, let us all take a moment of silence to commemorate the disappearance of the UK football program. Let us remember it as it was, not as it is...
Welcome to the hot seat and the spotlight Shawn Watson. Your assignment, and you have chosen to accept it, is to propel the Louisville offense into the end zone and resurrect the once feared and now seldom heard train horn at PJCS. While reviewing your biography, you certainly seem capable of calling plays and comprising a balanced attack. Watson served as offensive coordinator of the Nebraska Cornhuskers for four seasons beginning in 2007. His offenses averaged 468, 450, 322, and 398 yards per season through his tenure and proved he was proficient at relying on both the run and the pass.
It is crystal clear our young and inexperienced line is not able to establish a competent running game. Abandoning the run game is not an acceptable solution, but we need to become a pass first offense for the time being. Correct me if I am wrong Cardinal fans and Mr. Watson, but the only time our offense has been effective is when we play with urgency and have allowed Teddy to make plays in the backfield. I do want to watch Bridgewater scramble for his life on every play then make a miraculous, on the money 40 yard pass, but it is entertaining, and seems to be the only thing that works. Our offense has been too predictable, and slow moving this season, and it might be time to abandon the huddle on every down of every possession.
The word of the day is improvise and is defined as to make or create something by using whatever is available. Coach Watson, we have a lot available. Our receivers and running backs have shown big play ability in the open field. Find a way to get them the ball in space. Also, I know it is allergy season here in Kentuckiana, but our entire roster cannot be allergic to the middle of the field. Is there a reason we do not attack the seams? Chichester has proven his worth this season over the middle, it is time to attack.
In other news, the Cardinals were just penalized again. I do not understand why a team collects penalties, and I do not understand why our Birds seem to enjoy it. These kids have been playing football all their lives, they know what a hold is, they know what a facemask is, they can hear the whistle blow, and is it really that hard to wait for the ball to be snapped? Coach Strong makes the team run after practice for penalties, and it appears this punishment has not deterred the repeat offenses. Are harsher reprimands needed, or will these kids just stop making mental mistakes?
The majority of these penalties have been thrown straight at the offensive line. I understand they are young, and inexperienced, but our big boys up front must learn how crucial their mistakes are. I do not believe these youngsters are trying to commit penalties, but they are struggling avoiding them. A solution to penalties? Perhaps we should use NIKE's slogan towards Tiger Woods ... Just don't do it.
Saturday is the battle for the Keg of Nails. Cincinnati is 4-1, and 3-0 at home. The Louisville defense has been the one bright spot this season, but the Bearcats will provide their first true test. Cincinnati has the 16th best running offense in the country and is averaging 45 points per contest. If our offense decides it does not want to cross the goal line again this game could get embarrassing.
Collaros, their quarterback, is off to a stellar beginning and will showcase a true two dimensional threat. Containment from our defensive ends and outside linebackers will be essential as the Cardinals attempt to derail Cincinnati's winning streak. The spread has been hovering around 17 points, and I like the Cards to cover that. Louisville's defense will play good enough to keep us in the game, but Watson's offense only shows minor improvements. Bearcats win 30-16. (prove me wrong please)
The University of Louisville football team understands it weaknesses and recognizes its flaws. Big East play begins Saturday and offers the Cardinals a second chance to reclaim the 2011 season. Criticism and negativity are not the prescriptions this undeveloped team needs. Louisville is in search of solutions, and answers and we look first to Shawn Watson. Saturday provides a new opportunity. Take advantage of it Louisville; play to score, play to win, strive to improve.