David Hale has a really good look at Louisville's ridiculous takeaway numbers from last season, and how (surprisingly) little it seemed to help the team put up points.
On the other 84 percent of the Cardinals' defensive drives, they were still really good. On drives that didn't end in a turnover for the opposition, Louisville allowed a score 30.8 percent of the time, good for 24th nationally and roughly exactly the same rate as national champion Ohio State. Its rate of 1.57 points-per-drive ranked 12th nationally, just a tick behind Alabama and Virginia Tech, two of the top defenses in the country. The numbers suggest Louisville's defense benefited from takeaways, but it wasn't defined by them.
Of course, it might also be worth asking whether a drop in takeaways has a major effect on the offense. After all, a takeaway often sets an offense up with good field position, netting a better chance to score. But that's the really odd thing about Louisville's takeaway production last season -- it didn't really help much at all.
The Cards had just one interception return for a touchdown. On drives following a takeaway, Louisville averaged 2.7 points -- good for 70th nationally. Its touchdown rate following a takeaway was 26.9 percent (89th nationally), which was actually worse than its TD rate on drives starting with a kickoff or punt (the only ACC team to make that claim). In other words, Louisville's high takeaways resulted in more drives for the offense, but not better drives.
Now let's get back to the first half of our question: Will Louisville's defense be able to repeat last season's turnover numbers in 2015?
That's obviously an unknown until the season plays out, but history suggests it's virtually impossible. Of the 11 teams to intercept at least 25 passes in a season from 2004 through 2013, only one -- 2008 Boston College -- managed to match that total again the following season. On the whole, that group saw a 39 percent reduction in interceptions the year after its big season.
The reasons for that are obvious. The best defenders leave (as Holliman did), opponents adjust, and a few of those lucky breaks disappear.
More from Hale on Twitter:
#Louisville led the #ACC in takeaways last year (30) but the only teams that scored TDs less afterward were Wake & Cuse.— David Hale (@DavidHaleESPN) June 11, 2015
#Louisville ranked 54th among P5 teams in points scored/takeaway and was dead last in the #ACC. Need to do more with opportunities in 2015.— David Hale (@DavidHaleESPN) June 11, 2015
And when you consider how close they came to beating FSU & Clemson... https://t.co/8RLXQBw6XC— David Hale (@DavidHaleESPN) June 11, 2015
To sort of sum up #Louisville’s problem: Cards had 30 takeaways & 77 pts off turnovers. #GaTech had 29 takeaways & 137 pts off TOs.— David Hale (@DavidHaleESPN) June 11, 2015
Despite picking up a scholarship offer from Michigan, 4-star WR Desmond Fitzpatrick remains firmly committed to Louisville, according to his father.
Montrezl Harrell is among those working out for the Boston Celtics today.
Baseball America has named Brendan McKay as a first team All-American.
UT Brendan McKay, Fr., Louisville
Even as a true freshman, few players provided as much value to their team as McKay brought to Louisville. He's a middle-of-the-order bat, hitting cleanup at times, and after moving to the weekend rotation in March, he quickly became the Cardinals' most consistent and reliable starter.
Corey Ray was named to the publication's second team.
Could Russ Smith's connection to Lil' B wind up being beneficial for the Memphis Grizzlies?
That blurb proves you never know what sentence you're going to wind up typing when you wake up in the morning.
Tennessee basketball simply cannot catch a break.
Five years ago today, all hell broke loose on the conference realignment front. In the end, Louisville wound up being one of the shakeup's biggest winners.
5) Louisville. All of AD Tom Jurich's substantial efforts in upgrading the program over 15-plus years stood in jeopardy when the Big East began imploding and the Big 12 passed over the Cardinals for West Virginia. But Maryland's unexpected exit from the ACC provided another opportunity to move up to a Power 5 league, and this one made more sense for Louisville. Its first season included a win at partial member Notre Dame.
Eric Crawford has a good read on Rick Pitino, his new contract extension, and the surprise that has been the length of time he's spent at U of L.
What goes into that kind of continuity? What enabled Pitino to stay, stay, stay when his whole career to that point had been go, go, go.
He and Jurich get along. The university has made major strides. I remember Pitino talking about commercial development around the south end of campus long before I'd heard it much mentioned on the university side. Pitino likes his staff. His sports information director, Kenny Klein, has been elected to the COSIDA Hall of Fame, and last week was the recipient of a surprise party. He's just one of a number of senior staffers who have been there from the start with Pitino — and been through a lot with him.
"When you describe passion at any age, passion is derived from everything I just mentioned, from the people you work with to enjoying the last four years — I've enjoyed 14 years, but the last four have been something special, and not just because of the number of wins, but because of the enthusiasm in the entire athletic program," Pitino said.
I remember a year or so ago, Pitino saying, "I'm in a good place." He wasn't just talking about the city, or the university. He wasn't talking about the practice facility or the downtown arena. He was talking about where his head is, about how he feels when he gets to the basketball office every morning.
He felt so good about it most of the book he wrote (and on which I worked, full disclosure) dealt with it, from what he does when he wakes up to how he deals with players to how he weathered some of the major adversities in his life, whether they were forced upon him or self-created.
A funny thing happens to guys who keep themselves flexible, who are willing to stay fresh mentally and adapt to the world and profession around them, who weather storms in life and keep moving forward.
A look at why Lorenzo Mauldin might be the Jets' best bet at outside linebacker from day one.
June 11, 2015
Rick isn't the only Pitino getting a bump in pay this week.
Google News needs to raise its standards.
This is just like that time I got burned by the "best burger in the world" advertisement in Kirklin, Indiana.
Brendan McKay is one of three finalists for the Olerud Award.
A Chicago Bears website takes a close look at Brandon Dunn as part of its summer roster preview.
American Pharoah will be at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
And finally, Ramsey & Rutherford is back on the air this afternoon from 3-6. Listen as I futilely attempt to get John to pronounce "Saved by the Bell" correctly.