LOUISVILLE'S QUICK TACKLE VS. MIKE WAKEFIELD AND DENZELL PERINE
Ryan Mack is typically the right tackle in Petrino's offense that flips the line depending on the playcall. I'm not sure if he will remain the starter at tackle this week but whoever mans that spot will play a major role in the game. This is a game that Louisville needs to improve the offense and the most important improvement needs to be along the line. Wakefield and Perine both have at least half a sack in each game this year. It should be a good opportunity for Petrino to to find the right mix of guys and get them experience against some talented players.
FIU'S SIZE ON THE PERIMETER
Virginia started their first offensive drive last week with a 50 yard go route against Andrew Johnson. It is something I fully expect teams to do until Johnson either stops them or someone else replaces him in the lineup. Charles Gaines is one of the best corners in the history of this program and teams will just not throw at him if they don't have to. Having a shutdown corner can be a gift and a curse if you don't have a guy across the field that can hold his own. Johnson is not a bad cornerback by any standard but he will be giving up 7 inches to Dominique Rhymes if they end up matched up. It will be interesting to see if Grantham makes an adjustment to either his personnel or his playcalls.
The topic has been beaten to death but it really goes to show how important the quarterback position is. Mike wrote a great post on how long it took Teddy Bridgewater to really get things going when he became the starter. This weekend is Will Gardner's "momentum" game. He needs an opportunity to face a lesser opponent and win the confidence of his offense. The fourth quarter of the UVA game was a great start in that direction and he needs to keep things going in his favor.
Will tends to struggle with standing tall in the pocket and stepping into pressure. It is a factor of being a quarterback that young guys tend to have trouble with. With that comes the tendency to lock onto their first read and telegraph their passes. These things improve with experience and confidence, two things Gardner doesn't really have at this point. At one point in the UVA game Will ran a waggle which had him turn his back to the play. He never actually full turned around to complete the rollout. It honestly looked as though he expected a defender to hit him before he could turn his shoulders. He has to gain confidence in his line to protect him and he also needs to own the position and expect to get hit at times. Once that happens things should improve.
The struggles of the offense have mostly been pinned on the players, but at some point an adjustment needs to be made by the coaching staff. Louisville has been very vanilla with not only the formations it has utilized but also the plays being called. The offense was so predictable last week that the Cavaliers had their second best pass rusher stop rushing and just stand back and bat passes down. At that point there should have been an adjustment to at least call some passing plays that were designed to go to the left side of the field.
In the fourth game of the season there should be some improvement in what has been a fairly underwhelming showing by the offense. The playcalling should adjust to the personnel, not the other way around. FIU's porous run defense should give Petrino a great opportunity to establish a running game and reap the rewards of that success. With an aggressive defense that will attempt to press the receivers the offense should be able to spread its wings like we all expected this year.