Can Louisville’s Running Game Get Going?
Louisville wasn’t expected to light the world on fire with their rushing attack against Alabama. However, they weren’t expected to be completely shut down to the point that it became a waste of time to attempt to run it.
Louisville had issues blocking up front and that is where they need to start if they want to fix things. Cole Bentley struggled with getting the snap off and getting to his block. That’s what led to some of those low snaps, by the way. He was going up against a nose tackle so that made his first experience at center much harder. He shouldn’t see that this week, so the line should see immediate improvement on interior runs.
The other issue is that the running backs weren’t able to do much to make something out of nothing. While that’s not really a requisite for the running back position, it might just be what they need out of the position this year. Louisville will face defensive fronts that will make it tough on the offensive line so the running backs will have to be able to make guys miss or run through a tackle.
Indiana State won’t likely make a lot of plays in the backfield but this will be a very good opportunity for Louisville to identify their issues and fix them. That includes finding a running back that can do more than just be a straight line runner.
Big Plays By The Defensive Front For Louisville
The Indiana State offensive line is flat out bad. Louisville showed some flashes early on up front against Alabama. Pair those two things and Louisville should be able to build off of what they were able to do last week. G.G. Robinson got a sack early on while Michael Boykin and Amonte Caban were both able to get into the backfield quickly though they were unable to make the play.
The key is that guys need to make the play in the backfield so that they can force long third down situations. Before the Bama game I talked about how important it was for guys to at least cause disruptions that would blow up a play and another guy could come in and make the play. The defense was able to do that a few times but they do what they needed to do to make the play. This weekend they should be able to make those plays and create some big plays to build off of.
Bobby Petrino’s Use Of His “Speed” Guys
The one thing that we’ve all heard Bobby Petrino say over and over again since he was rehired is that he was adding speed to the team through recruiting. This summer he stated that this was his fastest team during his second stint. However, we didn’t see much of that speed in the opening game against Alabama. Louisville’s offense looked like a hybrid of the 2014 offense and the offense that Lamar Jackson ran. Neither of those offenses did much to create space for the faster players on the offense.
The offense does not feature quick screens or very many plays that most high powered offenses feature. Louisville ran one jet sweep against Alabama. It was in the fourth quarter with the game in hand. Petrino talked about how he needed to get Hassan Hall and Javian Hawkins on the field but Hall was the only one that was healthy and he didn’t get on the field until mop up duty. What’s the point of highlighting your team speed if you’re not going to do anything to use it?
This week we should see some of these guys out there making plays early and often. Tutu Atwell should have specific plays that get him in space in the middle of the field. Petrino loves to run “Mesh” but it took until the final drive for Tutu to be the guy running the shallow cross on the play. It’s not that Dez Fitzpatrick or others aren’t capable of making a play, but they don’t have the open field abilities that Tutu does. Why not get him the ball earlier and see if he can break a big play? That might force the defense to adjust and open up things for other players.
Louisville Should Have No Trouble Blowing Out The Sycamores
Indiana State hasn’t won a game against a team at their own level in over a year. They beat Quincy University who is in a lower division. They beat them 49-0 and it wasn’t even that close. Louisville should be able to do the same this weekend.
Louisville should have a very bad taste in their mouth after being embarrassed on national television and they also have plenty of things to workout on the field. The running backs and offensive line should be excited for the opportunity to fix all of the mistakes in the run game last week. The receivers should take this a big chance to show that they’ve earned their reputation as one of the best groups in the country. The defense should want to dominate a team that should be dominated.
Louisville needs to play a clean game.
For the 46th time in 53 games in Bobby Petrino’s second stint as head coach Louisville had at least one turnover. They also only have three games during that period where they didn’t have at least three penalties (they somehow lost two of those games). This program is sloppy and at this point it is a feature of what the program got when they brought back Petrino. The team has also done a very good job of forcing turnovers during this span as well as winning the games they’re supposed to win. But, at some point they have to fix these mistakes so that they can win the big games.
If you watched the “gimmie” games from last year (Kent State and Murray) you saw just how poorly this team can play against bad competition. UofL turned the ball over six times in those two games and they were called for eleven penalties. They then went on to be called for ten penalties in their next game and they turned the ball over five times over their next four games, in which they lost three.
These games matter from the standpoint that they can expose issues that need to be addressed. When they’re not addressed, they linger into other games. Louisville should have no issue playing a clean game where they dominate Indiana State. If they don’t do so it will likely have an impact going into some tougher games.