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Week Seven Mailbag

The mailbag is coaching-free this week. Well, kinda.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I didn’t get as many questions this week as I initially get but I decided not to push for more because the few that I got warranted some deeper answers. Also, it was kind of nice to not get a question directly about Bobby Petrino this week.

As always, send your questions to @keith_wynne on Twitter or shoot me an email at

There are probably a few ways to answer this and actually be fair so I’ll try to do them all. My personal opinion is that UofL’s youth is being used as an excuse. It reminds me a lot of the 2015 season when the team started 0-3. That team was young at quarterback and relied on some freshmen for depth at receiver. That was it. The offensive line had juniors and seniors and the entire defense was full of third year players including multiple guys that are on NFL rosters right now. But the program pushed the idea that the team was young and that the “future is bright”.

The issue in 2015 is the same issue we’re seeing now. People are ignoring redshirt years. UofL has 51 players on the roster that are at least in their third year of college. That’s not a “young” team to me because those aren’t young players. No one would label Seth Dawkins as young so there is no reason to label Jawon Pass that way. “Inexperienced” would be a fair label for a lot of players but I think it just sounds better for some people to say that there is this extraordinary number of underclassmen on the roster.

This brings me to what would be a fair thing to point out: Louisville came into this season as a very inexperienced team. The offense had to make due without Robbie Bell to start the year, which meant that they had to replace two starters instead of just one. Throw that in with the quarterback and running back positions and you had to break in some guys that hadn’t seen the field much before now. The defense is, quite honestly, a hodgepodge of guys that have been here for a handful of months or about a year. Transfers from other FBS schools or JUCOs are being relied on and none of those guys had actually played in a game together. They have a good amount of guys on this team that are getting their first “in game” experience here at Louisville. That’s a fair point to make.

The point in all of this that isn’t discussed enough is the fact that Bobby Petrino and his staff created this situation with their own recruiting efforts. It’s hard to understand how a coach in his fifth year at a school has such an inexperienced team. This should be the most veteran team they could build. The reason it’s not is because they relied too heavily on JUCO players and they also didn’t balance their recruiting to ensure that they would be able to build depth at certain positions.

Here are some numbers that jump out when you look at the roster:

  • 25% of the scholarships are guys that are playing receiver or running back.
  • Only 7 of the defensive linemen and linebackers have been in the program for three years or more.
  • Louisville only has 10 offensive linemen on the roster that were actually part of a signing class.
  • From a future standpoint, UofL is losing two of their six safeties this year and have barely even attempted to recruit anyone at the position.

The roster tells the entire story. This staff hasn’t put enough time into adding depth on defense or on the offensive line. If we’re being honest, you could say the same about running back when they had to move Reggie Bonnafon there last season. So, if this program wants credit for being “young”, they’re going to have to take credit for making it that way.

I purposely stay away from basketball because Mike is about as good as there is when it comes to writing about college basketball. But, I’ve already said that I’ll answer anything so I’ll stand by that.

I think that the MVP this year will be Christen Cunningham from a “team” aspect. He’s a prototype point guard that can distribute the ball and score a good bit. I also think he will be really good on defense. The leadership aspect will be what makes him the team MVP though. Sometimes you just need that guy that plays harder than everyone else and expects guys to match that. This team has a few younger guys and that will be needed.

From a fans standpoint, it will be Jordan Nwora and that was established last season when fans were screaming for him to get more playing time. The question with him has been his defense but I think he will fit what Chris Mack does much better than he did in Rick Pitino’s system that David Padgett adopted. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t the leading scorer on this team.

As for guys leaving early, I think that Jonathan Greenard is the most likely guy to make the jump. He considered it last year and even with his injury he might decide to take his chances instead of coming back for a fifth year. The only other eligable guys that might go for it are Dez Fitzpatrick or Seth Dawkins. I don’t see either of them doing so. Dez might if he gets his draft advisory back and he’s projected as a first rounder. That would take a monster second half of the season, in my opinion and I’m not sure that happens. Dawkins would likely need a similar end to the season, also.

I will say that G.G. Robinson is a sleeper guy here. He’s had a solid year and might be willing to take his chances. But, I think we will see more transfers than we see early draft guys. There are a few players that haven’t seen the field at all and younger guys are playing ahead of them.

This one got much easier after the games ended last week. I think a few teams were able to separate from the pack a little bit. To me, the three teams that UofL could knock off are Boston College, Wake Forest, and Syracuse. I pick those three because I don’t really see them beating Clemson, NC State, or UK this season.

While I don’t think that UofL will be able to slow down anyone on defense, I do think that the offense has the potential to put together a couple of good games against those three teams. Boston College has regressed on defense for the last few seasons and they have had real issues defending the pass this year. If Jawon Pass is starting to “get it” like it seems, Louisville could have a good day throwing the ball.

Wake Forest already fired their defensive coordinator and then Clemson just destroyed them a week later. This defense was very good under Mike Elko but he’s been gone for two years and it’s starting to show how much of an impact his loss was. They’re allowing just under six yards per carry and teams are completing 64% of their passes on them. UofL will have to figure out their run game issues, but this will be another chance for them to get a win with their offense.

Syracuse is a couple of plays away from being a one loss team, but I won’t ever have faith in Eric Dungey or Syracuse’s defense. Dungey is healthy right now but he’s already been knocked out of one game this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if that were to happen again with the way that he plays. But, they do have a very good backup in Tommy Devito. He was a big recruit for them and it looks like they’ve invested some time in getting him ready for this year and the future.

Their defense is improved this year because the pass rush is really good. They really get after guys and that helps the secondary as they’re not having to run with guys forever. I still don’t trust them, though. They started last year well on that side of the ball and their defensive coordinator was up for the Broyles Award. Then they turned into a pumpkin and ended up as one of the worst defenses in the country. I’ll have to see them finish the year this strong to actually believe in them.