No, I'm not going to go absolutely ape (http://www.cardchronicle.com/2011/9/9/2415832/an-absolute-disgrace) like I did before, but the loss Saturday was just absolutely demoralilzing. Can Louisville get to six wins? There is no answer at this point, but here is what they have to do.
PART ONE- Who's left
These are the teams who we will be mid to heavy underdogs against.
These are the two games that I would consider to be toss-ups (and Cinncinatti is probably very generous) on the schedule.
These are the schools that we absolutely must take care of. They are definitely worse than us and need to be beaten.
PART TWO- What we need to do to reach a bowl
Take Care of both Pod 3 Teams- I'll give it to you straight up. We absolutely have GOT to beat Syracuse and Connecticut. UConn's offense is awful and the defense just gave up 38 points to Western Michigan. Syracuse is about the weakest 3-2 team in the country at this point. They should have lost to Toledo, should have lost to Wake Forest, beat Rhode Island by a gaudy 7 points and scored 12 offensive points in a loss to Rutgers. These are necessities.
Win at least one of the toss-ups- Rutgers doesn't look too bad (though they almost lost to Syracuse) but has some really good skill position players ( i.e. Mohammad Sanu, Chas Dodd, Jeremy Deering) but not much of an offensive line. Cinncinatti looks really, really good so far but hasn't really played much of anyone outside NC State. Rutgers I could see winning, but UC will be really, really tough.
Win a Pod 1 Game- My God, if we can do this, I'm going to be really, really, happy. UNC is going to be a serious problem. The defense has NFL first day players all over the place. Quinton Coples (DE) should have a field day with our weak offensive line. I don't see this happening coming off this huge letdown. West Virginia is too good. Cross them off the list. That leaves Pitt and USF. Pitt looked bad for the first two weeks in wins. They were about to blow out Iowa, but blew a giant lead. They were shut down by the only legit D they have played so far- Notre Dame. They manhandled the team that I am getting to next- South Florida. They were ungodly lucky to win the Notre Dame game (three turnovers inside the ten, including a pick-six) and have beaten powerhouses UTEP, Ball State, and Florida A&M, and lots of people were ready to anoint them Big East champs. Overrated. But we haven't won in their place yet. That's a problem. USF is still a very, very good team, but if there's a heavy-dog game we win, it's this one.
Protect the Oven- Very self-explanatory here. We've got Rutgers, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh. You absolutely have to win at least two. Three would probably ensure the team of a bowl.
Win two of the next three (@UNC, @Cincy, RU)- Of those, you probably want to win Cincinnati and Rutgers to get you confidence and a 2-0 Big East start. This is not in the least bit out of the question. But more than that, this team needs confidence and a winning culture more than anything else.
Don't finish 0-4 - Because it could happen. We play @WVU, Pitt, @UConn, and @USF. Obviously, that's a death blow, especially if we can't beat UConn.
PART THREE-HOW WE'RE GOING TO WIN THE GAMES
Notice: Obvious things such as RUN THE BALL and DO GOOD AT OLINE will not be included.
Force some God dang turnovers- We have forced exactly uno turnovers since we picked off Murray State 3 times. We have been inept in getting turnovers. We haven't had great field position all season long, and with how our offense stands today, we'll need it. Which brings me to the second part of this.
Stop being a "Bend But Not Break" Defense/ Get three and outs- Have you ever noticed that teams get to the fifty at will against us? Marshall must have punted five or six times from the 45 or so. North Carolina is going to take advantage of those opportunities. We have to stop them straight up. Like I said, we need field position.
At this point, these two are needed more than ever. Why?
Find a Deep threat- Yep, this is where Bellamy comes into play. I'm not sure if DeVante Parker is really (okay, he is, but the guy's a freshman, not exactly the point in one's carrer where they are Mr. Consistent) legit and can catch a touchdown and get 75 yards week in and week out as a freshman. Eli Rogers has made lots of freshman mistakes. He has the talent, but I'm not sure if he's ready. Michealee Harris seems like Doug Beaumont and seems to be like "Mr. Reliable" for this team. Josh Chichester has gotten lots of seperation and has been able to go over the middle a lot but doesn't have that breakaway speed. Will Stein and Teddy Bridgewater need someone who can stretch the D and at least keep them honest. Throwing the deep ball does require you to set your feet and throw, so there's that...
Start Running the Quick Hitters again- That screen to Bellamy is good for 5-10 yards every time. This is where Andrell is needed. I mean, Jesus, the guy has every bit of talent that a possesion reciever could need. He's like 6-4 over 200 pounds and has good speed. I mean, really. We're gonna need him for the long haul.
Get Special Teams Going- Last year we were top 20 in kickoff and punt returns. Beaumont, Anderson, and Bellamy were difference makers. Why Charlie continues to have Scott Radcliff returning punts is beyond me. He has about a threat of 0 to break one, and just muffed a punt last week. Put Bellamy, someone who can make a difference, out there.
Creative Play Calling- That is all.
Tackle Better/ Sack the QB- We can't sack the quarterback. We are absolutely awful. How many times have you seen Brandon Dunn or B.J charge in and try to arm tackle the QB when he steps up and leave the middle wide open? How many times did Marshall shake-and-bake the half the defense on Saturday? Food for thought on how good we really are.
Tough road to 6. Prediction: 5 wins. Generously. Prove me wrong. Go Cards.