The mailbag blew up this week just like Louisville’s offense. Plenty of good questions about the lingering issues on defense as well as what the future may hold for the program.
As always, send your questions via Twitter (@keith_wynne) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have a private Twitter account make sure you email me please.
Why did BC's tight ends keep getting downfield? Mistakes or scheme?— Chris (@crapulentfather) October 6, 2019
After watching the game again and then doing the film reviews, I think that a lot of what we saw last week should be credited to Boston College having a good offensive plan and scheme. Louisville made plenty of mistakes but some of those mistakes were the same types of things we’ve seen Louisville’s offense force with their misdirection. BC mostly did it with motion but their play action also played a factor. It’s really hard not to bite on run action when you’re going against a team that runs the ball so much. Louisville’s leading tacklers were the safeties for a reason. They were flying up the field in run support.
This defense frustrated Ian Book at times in the first game so it’s not unthinkable that things can improve. They just have to find some way to fix the mistakes and tighten up in coverage.
Where did Marshon Ford go? Seemed like such a big part of the offense first 3 games.— scott wilkinson (@TheeScottWilk) October 6, 2019
Marshon Ford is probably the best indicator that the offense is truly taking off. Scott Satterfield has never featured the tight ends in his offense but he has done good things to utilize them off of play action in the passing game. Ford already has almost as many receiving yards as any tight end that Satt had at App State.
But the offenses is now operating at a high level and the receivers have been getting involved more. So Ford isn’t getting as many opportunities in the passing game. But he’s absolutely killing it as a run blocker. You can make a fair argument that he’s been the most important player on this offense so far this year. He’s helping one of the best rushing attacks in the country as a lead blocker. Protecting the quarterback on all of these play action passes down the field that are helping this offense be so explosive. And he’s also still a major threat in the passing game as he’s averaging 18 yards per catch.
He’s not catching as many passes, but he’s doing a lot of the stuff that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet.
Do you think our lack of pressure on opposing qb's is due to not having the personnel to run Brown's system correctly? It seems that we constantly drop 8 and try to get pressure with our 3. We did blitz at the end of the game yesterday. Hoping to see more pressure in the future.— Reid Nix (@MyReidnix) October 7, 2019
I think most of the issues on defense stem from guys not executing the way they’re supposed to. It’s why we keep seeing mixed results. The front has done very well against the run and I think they’ll continue to get better because they’re rotating guys and getting them game reps. But they still don’t have a bunch of guys that can rush the passer consistently. The pass rush was always a question for me with the defense at App State over the last handful of years. They seemed to get pressure but didn’t get the quarterback to the ground enough. Before their bowl game last year, App only had 22 sacks but they did have 33 QB hurries.
In my opinion, the biggest issue is that App State was getting absurdly good coverage behind their defensive front while Louisville isn’t. That means that you can’t really blitz as much as you want because you. You have to have guys back to help out the struggling secondary players. My hope is that we somehow see things change with the pass defense. These corners and safeties aren’t bad players and the linebackers know how to cover in man and how to drop into zone. We’ve seen it happen. They just have to get some kind of consistency going.
Question for the mailbag. Late in the game it seemed BC was selling out on the RB with all the pistol hand offs, especially with Conley in. What would you like to see Louisville do when teams become that aggressive to stop Hawkins/Hall?— Bryan Lockard (@Byn_Locster) October 8, 2019
Honestly, we’ve already seen what they can do when teams stack the box. It took a good while to get there because I don’t think that Satterfield trusted the quarterbacks and receivers all too much early on. The long throw to Dez against FSU might end up being the most important play of the season. The staff seems to have complete confidence in the passing game and now they can really punish those teams that are stacking the box.
What I really liked in the BC game is that you can see Micale Cunningham starting to understand how the play action affects the linebackers and safeties. His eyes and footwork are all perfectly timed and the ball is out of his hand in rhythm. It’s pretty much the opposite of what we’ve seen from him from his first time stepping on the field. If his play continues, the offense could look a lot more like what we saw against BC than what we saw against Notre Dame going forward.
FROM MATT VIA EMAIL
What have you seen this year through our play or recruiting class that gives you the most optimism about us winning more games in the future?
It’s pretty sad to have to point this out but the balance is the best sign for the future so far. The staff is fixing the numbers issues they inherited pretty quickly and should be in good shape in year two. They could be a bit young at wide receiver if Dez were to find his way too the draft but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. Outside of that, they should have some JUCO guys that can come in and play right away. They also have a couple of guys in the class that could see the field as freshmen.
In general, I think everything in the program has shown positive signs for the future. They’ve taken a few risks in the recruiting class but i think that’s a good idea when you have extra spots in the class. The offense is clicking and Micale looks like a completely different player than he did last year. They also have a good amount of young players that they can hopefully develop. As of right now, we could see the same offense next year minus Becton, Dawkins, and Haycraft. You’re then plugging in Trevor Reid, Justin Marshall, and one of the freshmen linemen they signed last year or Adonis Boone. If the defense can show some improvements against the pass, I think we’re looking at a lot of signs that this team will take a step forward next year no matter how this season finishes.
FROM STEPHEN VIA EMAIL
I have 2 questions this week about coaching strategy.
1. When Louisville scored early in the 4th quarter to go up 37-29, why not go for 2 and a 10-point lead?
2. Why pass on 3rd down just before kicking the game-winning FG instead of running the ball and forcing BC to call their final timeout?
The typical decision on that touchdown is to just get it to a two-score lead. Getting to a nine point lead forces BC to score twice to win. Unfortunately, they allowed them to score twice after that score. In that specific situation, a coach is likely to assume that they won’t give up two scores unanswered.
It took me rewatching the game to ask the same question about the pass before the kick. During the game I was just hoping they would win the game and I was introducing the baby to “stressed out and yelling daddy” while he stared at me. I think that they decided to try to throw it in hopes that Tutu would beat the guy that was covering him. They tried it a few times late but couldn’t hit on it. But BC was playing man against him and they didn’t have anyone that could actually keep up with him. But it was a bit too risky to me with a freshman quarterback. It’s fair to question the decision just like the timeout before the punt.
FROM CLINT VIA EMAIL
In your review of App St games in the past, or so far in Lville’s season, have you seen Coach Satt bring in new plays, but based off the same formations to get the defense off-balance? For example, against BC, deep crossing routes were open all game and that was the first time all season I remember seeing us throw it multiple times throughout the game; it was like they held those routes/plays in their back pocket for this game. I wonder if we will continue to see that once we know what weakness the defense might have and attempt to exploit it or do we just run the stuff that has made us successful, or I assume it is a combo of both and I am answering my own question, LOL.
As someone who wrote 4,000 words in the film reviews of the first half this week, I can appreciate a long winded question. Satterfield’s offense is completely predicated on utilizing formations to keep the defense off balance. They only have a few running plays in the playbook and they really only run outside zone and inside zone outside of the option plays we’ve seen. It’s simple but they run those handful of plays out of an insane amount of formations.
I also think that he’s opening things up more now that he’s gained some confidence. But there’s probably a lot more coming from a trick play/misdirection standpoint either this weekend or when they get to Clemson. Tutu has only thrown one pass so far and I expect that to change. I also think we’ll see a reverse or two as opposed to the jet sweeps we’ve seen with Tutu. The ball might still go to him but the play will be designed to get the defense going one way with the ball going to the opposite.