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4th and inches > 1st and 10

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Let's all agree to disagree about the 4th and inches call on Saturday. Everyone has their own opinion on why it was or wasn't the right play. Our defense. Their linemen. Our quarterback. They're on the road. All valid points.

In a recent FanPost, CC member CardsFanTX commented; "I think fans aren’t always just "yeah rah!" regardless of what happens. I think true fans question decisions like that. Because we want what’s best for the program, and that isn’t to rubber stamp every call our coach makes."

I completely understand this viewpoint. And I'm not singling out CardsFanTX, either. His opinion seemed to be the prevailing thought after the game that it was a bad call and thus why I'm quoting him here.  But I think many of the fans who disagree and think it was a good call aren't necessarily fleeced by Strong's infallible reputation.

Would we be making fun of Krags if he'd made the same call in the same situation? Probably. But Strong isn't Kragthorpe. 

Strong inherited a Kragthorpe'd program that had suffered through back-to-back losing seasons. He moved his family to a city of Louisville fans who'd once grown accustomed to high powered offenses and 9 straight seasons of bowls they could attend with pride. Last season, we begrudgingly celebrated a 10-9 win at home over Syracuse.

Strong's undertaken an under-performing roster full of players who've yet to experience a winning season and quickly turned them into Big East contenders by November, within one victory of bowl game qualification.

A team that prides itself on blitzing and running on 4th down to clinch a game. A backup quarterback whom most fans, including me, continue to doubt. A team that takes chances when the game hangs in the balance because it's their only edge.

The terms "conventional" and "conservative" are not in the 2010 Louisville football team's vocabulary. 

Charlie Strong via text message to his team: "Tough loss. I believe in each one of you. We're a really good football team, and you are a very special group of guys. If I had to do it all over again, I would go for it on 4th and inches. That's how much I believe in each one of you."

Statement. Made. Strong is beginning to form his legacy as a head coach who will live and die by going for it on 4th and inches. By being the aggressor and putting the game in his senior's hands--not the opponent's.

We can second guess the decision by asking what if our running back or a more athletic QB had taken the snap. Or perhaps we could've spread out four WR's to get more defensive bodies off the line and create a passing audible if necessary. Sounds great in retrospect.

Well, what if Strong settled for the field goal and Philpott missed it? What if B.J. Daniels would've burned the Cards' secondary for a touchdown? How many fans would've said "We should've gone for it on 4th and inches. It was onlyinches." Or: "Our offensive line is the most experienced position group on the team--Strong should've listened to his players and been more aggressive." Few would still argue the sneak would've been a bad call. 

It wasn't a good call because of mathematical probabilities, implied risk or because it's what the textbook says to do. It was a good call because Louisville decided to earn the win on their own 4th and inches, not USF's 1st and 10. Unfortunately, the Cards fell a couple inches short on Saturday. 

The good news is that Strong's not selling us a bridge year; "We can't get an inch, we don't deserve to win."