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Week Five Mailbag

At some point we will get to stop talking about coaching each week. Maybe even before the season ends.

Florida State v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As we enter week five of year five for Bobby Petrino, it is kind of staggering that these are the questions being asked. Any one that followed me on Twitter at the time knows that I was not a fan of the hire, but even I didn’t think that things would ever get to this point.

As always, send me a tweet at @keith_wynne or email me at keithwynne2@gmail.com.

We can go ahead and get this one out of the way. There are three games left on the schedule that I can see UofL pulling off somehow. Florida State has major issues on their offensive line and they have crazy discipline issues that have plagued them in each game. They provide the best possible opportunity for Louisville to get a win at this point.

The other two teams I could see playing poorly enough that UofL can get a win are Wake Forest and Syracuse. Wake just fired their defensive coordinator after four games. They also have a freshman starting at quarterback and even though he’s played well, you never know what you will get out of a freshman. Syracuse will be fool’s gold to me until they win 7 or 8 games. That’s a high bar, but I just don’t believe in their defense or their offense without Eric Dungey and Dungey will get injured again at some point. Georgia Tech has some issues too, but I don’t know that they can handle their speed on offense this year.

The biggest red flag to me with Bobby Petrino’s offense coming into the 2014 season was how dull his offense seemed to be at Western Kentucky. The game had evolved to optimize speed on the offensive side of the ball but Petrino was still running an offense that was similar to what he ran when he was first at UofL. It didn’t fit with what I thought this program needed. It just doesn’t work anymore in college football.

The 2014 season showed that the offense wouldn’t be creative and that’s what we ended up seeing that year. We’re seeing it again without Lamar under center. We even saw it from a passing standpoint with Lamar. Passing plays on first down that are 10+ yard route combinations and no consistency with the running game.

I just don’t get how he hasn’t evolved at all. Louisville is one of the few offenses that doesn’t run RPOs. They haven’t run any tempo offense or worked in misdirection plays into the passing attack. They don’t do anything to put pressure on the defense. “Lamar Jackson stuff” isn’t a strategy. That’s what the offense relied on to create big plays and he’s not here anymore.

If you want to really think about why the offense isn’t able to create chunk plays look back to 2014. It took DeVante Parker getting healthy. It took one of the best players in the country to come back from injury to get the offense going the way it’s supposed to. Think even harder and you’ll realize that almost all of what Parker did on offense was due to his own insane abilities. It was slant routes and go routes that he made a play on.

The offense is old and it’s showing this year.

I will stand by my earlier comments that no one wants to work for Bobby Petrino. I think that was shown to be true this off season when Bran VanGorder was given nearly a million dollars a year to come be the defensive coordinator when he didn’t have a job. Also, don’t forget that Ryan Beard was brought in to coach in the secondary but was moved to linebackers when they presumably couldn’t find a linebacker coach. They brought in Grady Brown and Beard was suddenly coaching linebackers, a position he has no experience with.

I pointed all of that out to say that , they don’t have many more options. The ones that are out there are out of work right now or they are out of favor in their current spot. But the real issue is that changing one coach won’t do much of anything. The entire offense is Bobby Petrino. You can bring in a new running backs coach, but he’s not going to stick to one guy anyway. You can change your offensive line coach, but he’s going to make the decision on who starts and who is benched. On the defensive side of he ball, they’re not good at any level of the defense. A new defensive line coach doesn’t get you linebackers that make impact plays and a new secondary coach doesn’t improve the pass rush.

This is a staff that has not done a good job anywhere. Some of that is on their abilities and some of that is because of the guy at the top. However, if I were the guy at the top like the question asks? I’d start with a new defensive line coach. If you can make a great hire there and get a guy that can recruit well and coach guys on good technique, you at least have better production at the key part of your defense.

Via email from Stephen: Our final drive against UVa completed 4 or 5 passes in a row and gained over 50 yds. It looked like UVa was still bringing a little pressure and not just sitting back in a prevent. Why was our offense so much more effective there than the rest of the game? What was the difference?

I just think the game was over for UVA at that point. They weren’t in a prevent but they were only rushing four guys for the most part. A couple of plays I noticed that they were bringing a blitzer but then a linemen dropped back on the opposite side. I also think that it helped Louisville that they started moving with some urgency. I would love to see them push the tempo to see if they can get a spark for the offense.

What really stood out to me is how this drive ended. I let Jake Lourim sum it up in the film review. Even when they did move the ball well, they ended up shooting themselves in the foot with drops and penalties. They gave up and it honestly happened well before that.

I’ve seen the word “lazy” used a lot when it comes to Tom Jurich rehiring Petrino. I won’t say that because I wasn’t privy to the process. I know from my personal conversations that Jurich wasn’t a big fan of Bobby after the way he left the first time around so I don’t think he was the first choice after Charlie Strong left. Jurich all but said as much to ESPN by saying that he wasn’t at the top of his list when he sat down to look at his options the first time.

However, we got here because the hire that was made was the wrong hire. Even if you’re not in the same thinking as me when it comes to what I saw during his time at Arkansas and WKU. It’s a bad hire because no one else wanted him. When no one wants your coach and he’s a guy that’s been driven by the goal of winning at the highest levels, he’s going to find it hard to have the same drive. I think we’ve all failed to remember what lengths Petrino went to in order to get to a position where he felt he could reach his goals. The Auburn fiasco. Leaving UofL after signing a long term contract. Leaving Atlanta with no notice right after telling his bosses that he wouldn’t.

You do those things because you have a insatiable desire to reach your goals. That is only made more obvious by the fact that he showed the entire world that he didn’t care how badly he firebombed every bridge to get to those goals. Well, if he didn’t think that he could reach that goal when he was here before, he definitely doesn’t believe it now. So Louisville ended up hiring a guy that wouldn’t be motivated at the same level that he was before. We have all seen that. Pair that with the fact that every bridge is still burning to this day, and now you can’t even build a competent staff to go with him.

That’s how we got here. That’s how we as a fanbase have two (2) things to look back to over the last five years as great moments in this program’s history. We could all argue that no other coach could have done any better. That might be completely true. But that all went out the door in year five. I don’t believe that anyone else would have taken this program from where it was when the season ended in 2013 to where it is as I’m writing these words.