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Western Kentucky Offensive Film Review: Second Half

The good, the bad, and the ugly from the WKU game.

NCAA Football: Western Kentucky at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville’s offense has struggled a lot this season and those struggles can be attributed to every position group on the field. I found a solid mix of good plays and bad plays from the Western Kentucky game. A lot of the good comes from Malik Cunningham being able to run like he does. I’m not so certain that that will work out very well in conference play.

Both of these plays show you why Dae Williams should be the number one guy at running back and he should stay in that role. His vision on both runs stand out as you can see him cutback to avoid the linebacker both times. He sees the back side opening and makes a decisive cut to get to it. He’s able to get two explosive runs early in the second half to help get things moving for the offense.

This play nearly grades out perfectly. Guys get to their blocks and create an alley. The option action works on the free defender. I don’t expect anyone to make this play but Linwood Foy almost gets to the backside guy that ends up making the tackle.

This is a play where Malik Cunningham has to be more decisive and he has to make a decision as soon as the fake is carried out. He doesn’t do that and he misses the opportunity to hit Kemari Aerett in the back corner of the end zone or to hit Jordan Davis short at the other pylon. The defender (#31) does a great job to split the difference here, but the read then is to hit Davis. Instead, Malik doesn’t make either decision and the play goes for nothing.

Here’s what’s supposed to happen on this play: Lukayus McNeil chips on the double team with Kemari Averett and then climbs to the front side linebacker (Eli Brown #32)

Here’s what actually happened on this play: Lukayus McNeil drops his head and gets to aggressive trying to get to the double team with Averett and he doesn’t notice that the front side linebacker isn’t where he thinks he’s going to be until he’s already made the tackle.

Dave Scull who is a former offensive lineman and writes for the guys over at the CrunchZone made a very good point about this play. Out of the five linemen, only one guy did his job, another didn’t factor in the play, and the other three failed. Even if McNeil does his job here, Cole Bentley is being pushed so far into the backfield that Dae Williams doesn’t even get to make a step towards the line of scrimmage once he gets the ball. The play is likely dead anyway.

This a play where Malik shows the extra things he brings to the offense. Outside of maybe Tutu Atwell in the middle of the trips to the bottom of the screen, you can see that everyone is covered. It’s a messy pocket because the defensive tackle gets some penetration. Malik just improvises and nearly scores. It’s a play that is likely a throwaway or a sack if Jawon Pass is in there.

But, as he gains experience, he has to see Jaylen Smith working down the back of the end zone here. Once he decides to tuck it, his eyes are down and he gets tunnel vision.

So, the bad part of this play is obvious. There’s nothing to say about it. But, there’s plenty to like about this play. Let’s run them off:

  • The coaches saw something with WKU’s coverage on a specific formation earlier or on film this week. They go with an unbalanced formation that has no receiver on the right side of the formation. The defense changes the coverage and they end up in “zero” coverage because the safety moves up to take Jaylen in the slot.
  • The offensive line does a great job of creating a clean pocket for Malik.
  • Malik puts the perfect amount of air under this ball. Earlier in the game he sticks a couple of post throws instead of leading the receiver. Those weren’t bad throws but it’s good to see that he identified Jaylen running free here and put air on it.

Another solid play by the offense. The line gives Malik plenty of time and he finds Seth Dawkins. He’s late with this throw but he still does a good job of putting it where only Dawkins is going to get to it. Dawkins is open after he passes the dropping linebacker at the top. If he makes this throw earlier, Dawkins gets it in stride and there is a good chance he turns it into a touchdown. It’s at least a big gain.

I think this is what people expected form Louisville’s running game this year. McNeil and Averett do a great job to seal the edge and Bentley is right on time with his pull block. The timing is really great here and that allows Dae Williams to get through an alley. He uses his power to pick up more yardage on his own.