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Week Six Mailbag

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The mailbag finally got away from talking about the coach and jumped right into the coaches decisions...

Florida State v Louisville Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Jordan Travis still has three games left to play this year if Bobby Petrino wants to preserve his redshirt season. With the schedule getting tougher, I think that the best chances for Louisville to get him on the field will be as the legit second string quarterback or in the case of a blowout loss.

If Jawon Pass struggles over the next two weeks and Louisville loses both of those, games I think that Petrino moves on to Travis and gives him two weeks of practice as the starter with the bye week. A 2-5 UofL team will need to get a spark at the most important position on the field. It’s the one spot that can spur a turn around, in my opinion.

If they go on to win these next two games, there’s a chance we don’t see Travis any more this year, which would definitely suck with how the early part of the schedule looked on paper.

I got into some of this in the film reviews this week, but I do think that Pass looked better overall in this game than he did in any game outside of Alabama. His issues aren’t that he “can’t” do what’s needed. It’s that he doesn’t do the things he needs to do consistently.

His touchdown run in the first quarter was a really good play for him, specifically. He’s learning on the job and in a similar situation against Virginia he refused to run the ball and threw one of his worst passes of the season. This time around, he didn’t see what he liked and he knew that he would have running room on the back side of the play. He actually started running before he got his head all the way around. That understanding of the play and of what he’s seeing after the snap are really good signs going forward.

The one concern I have is that it seemed like he started pressing in the second half once he missed one throw. It was like things started to snowball. I’m not sure if that’s because he was looking over his shoulder or not. With a two score lead, you would think he would relax. Instead, it almost looked like he started worrying more.

UofL showed some nice creativity early in the game last week. They called a nice shovel pass to Micky Crum and did some things in the run game that helped to get Hassan Hall out in the open. They also called a tunnel screen for Tutu Atwell that probably would have worked well if Brian Burns wasn’t so good at defensive end for FSU.

I think that Atwell’s success will end up being in the hands of Jawon Pass just like the other receivers. They haven’t done much of anything to manufacture touches for him so far and I don’t think they’ve been in a spot to just hold onto those plays. I think that the bye week could become a big factor when it comes to a lot of things this year, because Petrino could look to make major adjustments if things still aren’t working at that time. If he does, we could see some of those creative plays that I think everyone expected to see this year.

So, Alex Kirshner did a great job breaking down Petrino’s contract for SB Nation and I couldn’t possibly do a better job, so I won’t. I will say that I don’t think that money will be the reason that Louisville wouldn’t make a move at Head Coach. Here’s why I think that:

If Louisville fires Petrino without cause — i.e., for losing too many games — it has to pay out his guaranteed money for the rest of that year and three years following it. (If Louisville were to fire him in the last three years of the deal, the school would only owe him whatever remained at that point. The structure of Petrino’s contract would make his buyout slightly bigger if he were fired in 2019, so Louisville might not have reason to wait.)

Louisville doesn’t save any money by waiting a year. So, the decision comes down to one simple question: Is there reason to believe that things will be better next year. I don’t think that UofL even considers making a move on Petrino unless this season ends at 3-9 or worse. Maybe 4-8 is enough but I’m not sold on that. But, if this team finishes 3-9, what would they be able to hang their hat on to show that things would be better with another year.

People tend to point to the youth of the team but there are two issues with that. They’re inexperienced, not young. They’re also playing inexperienced players because they haven’t recruited well from a balance standpoint in most cases and from a talent standpoint in others. The other issue with looking at the perceived youth of the team is that those same players will be relied on next year. If those players make up a three win team, it’s hard to sell anyone on the idea that they would be a six win team the next year.