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Week Three Mailbag

The third mailbag of the year hopes to talk some folks off of the ledge while also being honest about the state of the program.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Alabama Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for the week three mailbag. We got some really great questions this week about the state of the season as well as the state of the program. As always, shoot me a tweet at @keith_wynne or send me an email at

So a lot of this depends on what your expectations were going into the season. If you expected 9+ wins you are probably much more worried about how this season goes than someone that was expecting 7+. There’s plenty of season left and the first two games could be argued as a wash, but I don’t subscribe to the idea that you can’t learn things from any game.

They should have played better against ISU. However, I have more issues with the coaching than I do with the performance. Why did they throw the ball 22 times in a rainstorm? Petrino owned the fact that this was a mistake but, again, it’s another mistake that you would not expect from a veteran coach. If they come out running the football and work on that aspect of the offense, you can at least find some answers there. Instead, you go into week three not knowing who your running back is and you now have questions at quarterback.

Both games showed that Louisville has questions with consistency on the defensive front. Both games also show that Louisville’s offensive line has a ways to go. But, we still haven’t seen everything running at 100%. Saturday will show everyone what this team truly is. The defensive line should be able to have a good game against this WKU offensive line. The secondary will have plenty of opportunities to make plays. We should learn a lot about both sides of the ball against an overmatched opponent. I would say that after that, people will have a more concrete understanding of how they should judge the team.

I think that things will be different with Brian VanGorder. That’s not necessarily a vote of confidence but it is an acknowledgement of one major thing that doomed the Todd Grantham and Peter Sirmon hires. Neither of those guys had a history with Bobby Petrino. BVG is a guy that knows Petrino and knows how he coaches and leads a program. He will be able to handle the personality factor. I also think that he will get more than one year no matter how bad the defense is (not saying that I think it is or will be).

Here’s the biggest factor to me, though. VanGorder didn’t have a job and he’s making nearly a million dollars a year to coach here. He would have to win another Broyles Award to get that anywhere else. I think he will be here for the long run and I can’t think of a scenario where he leaves or he’s fired. It would have to be bad enough that Petrino himself is fired.

For the folks that aren’t aware of what’s going on here, Jeff Greer posted a tweet of himself “scoring” a “goal” during a charity event with Louisville FC.

I know Jeff fairly well so I know that he plays rec league soccer and after watching this I know that he should be playing right back or something. The goal itself is completely unimpressive. You can’t even put it into the side netting?

As for the celebration, there are multiple issues here. How dull is the jumping fist pump thing? You set up a video of yourself scoring so that you can show off and that’s what you come with? Plus, did you see how he tucks his legs up so it looks like he’s jumping higher? Sad.

Secondly, what is with the kneeling machine gun? Is he aiming at the sun? This is exactly the type of celebration that I would expect a guy who purposely tries to resemble Sergio Ramos to go with. It almost feels like a cry for help.

Jeff apparently won the charity shootout contest which says all you need to know about the athleticism of our local sports media. In all seriousness, Jeff does a lot of charitable things in the community which is really great for a guy that isn’t even from here. Here’s a link that gives more detail of what was going on in the above video.

Count me as someone that doesn’t think that that Bobby Petrino will revert back to the things he did during his first stint at Louisville. Petrino hasn’t recruited a pure pocket passer since he’s returned. He also hasn’t utilized a fullback or h-back like he did back then. When Tobias Little was injured, it seemed to be a red flag that they wouldn’t incorporate the fullback in the offense but that wouldn’t stop them from using the second tight end as a lead blocker like they used to.

Also, Petrino talked about Little as a runner more than a blocker so maybe he never intended on going back to some of the traditional run stuff they used to do. I think that Petrino views his “two tight” set as a power run formation. It’s not, because it’s really just an overload formation to whatever side of the field the two tight ends are on. It also isn’t a power formation because Kemari Averett picks and chooses when he wants to block like a tight end and when he wants to block like a slot receiver.

Another issue is self inflicted. The quarterbacks he has recruited don’t have a lot of experience under center. It’s not easy to teach a guy how to do something that is that unnatural to them. We all know how tough it was for Lamar Jackson but maybe he will be more confident in the guys on the roster once they start doing it in games on a regular basis. But he also has to call those types of plays so who knows how that goes.

My last point kind of sums it up for me. If he wanted to run the offense he ran in 2006, he’d recruit the type of quarterback he had back then. He brings up Stefan Lefors a lot and I think that he’s still searching for that type of guy. Lefors could do it all and he that would allow Bobby to roll out that complete playbook. I’m not sure that he can do that with Jawon Pass but for the folks that want to see that offense that Lefors ran? Jordan Travis is probably your guy.

This is the winner for my favorite question of the week. I’m a weirdo who looks into what will happen the next season even before the season starts. I’m also very interested in how Louisville’s recruiting has been viewed by fans. The rankings matter a lot and I’m a believer in the fact that “stars matter”. However, balance matters more for teams like Louisville that can’t recruit like the blue blood teams. You just can’t miss on entire position groups.

Unfortunately, Louisville has missed on every level of the defense at some point over the last few years. Early on it was the secondary, which led them having to bring in an unbalanced amount of corners and safeties. Then it was the defensive line, which led to them relying on junior college transfers in this past class. I think the linebacker spot could be the next spot to see depth become a big issue. We’ve already seen it to a certain extent with P.J. Blue and C.J. Avery moving to linebacker from safety. London Iakopo did the same last year before moving back.

Those guys moving positions show that there’s a lack of depth there. Not to say that they can’t play there. It’s more about the fact that they just didn’t recruit well at that spot. If one of those guys aren’t able to make the transition, who is the backup there? The depth here just isn’t where it needs to be even though they are young at the position. I also wonder how the offensive line will look with three starters graduating. Toryque Bateman transferring could have a big impact from a numbers standpoint.

For the tackling question? Your guess is as good as mine. Multiple coaching changes and new players have shown to result in the same tackling ability. Personally, I’m wondering where the play makers are? When you look back to what Todd Grantham had to work with you see guys like Gerrod Holliman, James Sample, James Burgess, Keith Kelsey, Sheldon Rankins, and Lorenzo Mauldin. All of those guys were able to combine to consistently make big plays for the defense. Last year we really only saw Jaire Alexander and Jonathan Greenard as those types of players. That’s what concerns me about this defense. My hope is that we can see a guy jump a route and get an interception this weekend. Or maybe a strong pass rusher is identified with a couple of sacks.

If Louisville wants to get back to having a strong defense, you have to have guys that can do more than just make tackles. You need to make impact plays like interceptions, tackles for loss, forced fumbles, and sacks. I understand the focus on the basics because they’re extremely frustrating, but at this point, it’s more concerning that they can’t do that and they can’t do the impact things either. Louisville doesn’t necessarily have to have first round picks like Alexander or Calvin Pryor. They do, however, have to have guys that can at least make some of the types of big plays that those guys made.