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The Wynnedbag: Week Eight

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NCAA Football: Louisville at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The mailbag is always more fun after a win. The continuing trend is the defensive issues being questioned. It’s understandable but I think things will get better as the season goes on. The quarterback position has somewhat worked itself out so now it’s all about hypotheticals. I also took a chance to look ahead to next season.

This is the first time I’ve had to type this but I apologize if I didn’t get to your question this week. I had a few more than I could fit.

As always, send your questions on Twitter (keith_wynne) or email (keithwynne2@gmail.com). If you have a private Twitter account just email me.

I don’t know if this is a message board thing or not but it doesn’t really hold up to me. Jawon Pass has already redshirted, so sitting out doesn’t really help him from that standpoint. I also don’t believe that he’s on pace to graduate before next season so he’s going to have to sit if he were to transfer. You might as well play if that’s the case. The timing doesn’t really add up either as he was injured after two games and had played well enough to remain the starter.

Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pass either looks to transfer later in the year or after the year. At this point I don’t know that he has a chance to see the field again. Some coaches have the rule of not being able to lose your job due to injury but Scott Satterfield has been a straight shooter so far and I believe him when he says he doesn’t care who plays as long as they’re leading the offense the way he wants. To me, Pass is the third guy on the list after what we’ve seen over the last few weeks.

Satterfield said before the season that TreSean Smith had been suspended indefinitely. I don’t think anything has changed there and my theory is that we won’t see him on the field this year. He’s still on the roster so I don’t think that he’s been dismissed or anything like that. It might be a situation where his suspension doubles as a redshirt year. That’s a win for everyone (assuming whatever he did wasn’t egregious) as he will save a year and the staff gets an extra year with him on the field. I think that if either he or the staff didn’t want him around, he wouldn’t be here. At least that’s my thinking.

From the standpoint of next season, it can work out well to have Smith back. Khane Pass will be gone and Louisville needs some depth at safety. Isiah Hayes hasn’t seen the field as much as I expected but he was also injured. Smith is a guy that I thought could start this year so he might be able to win the job next year. It’s also my understanding that the staff expects Jamel Starks to be here next year after going to prep school this fall. Adding those two guys in the secondary would be very nice.

The honest to god answer to this is “play worse offenses”. Boston College, Wake Forest, and Clemson are all in the top four in the conference in sacks allowed. Boston College does a good job of using the run to get play action passes. Wake gets the ball out quick, runs their RPOs well, and has good receivers that make you keep guys back. Clemson is just Clemson.

So it’s hard to get a lot of pressure on these teams that run their offense in a way that is designed to not give up pressure. It seemed like Bryan Brown didn’t blitz as much as normal against Wake but they held them to their second worst third down percentage on the season. They did the same against Boston College. So there are some positives in passing situations.

Some of this is due to not having the guys up front yet. It’s not that they’re not good enough it’s that they don’t have enough guys. When you have these guys running around like they do, they get tired and the pass rush suffers. They’re playing as many guys as they can but they weren’t lying when they said they want at least nine guys to rotate. They’ve been forced to play Ty Tyler at nose tackle at times because they only have two guys there. That shows just how shallow the group is.

I think that Louisville’s schedule worked out where they played the best offenses to start the season and then they will finish with the worst. ND, FSU, Wake, BC, and Clemson all have better offenses than the rest of the teams after the Clemson game. You can make an argument that Miami has a better offense than FSU but I watched them score 17 points against Central Michigan. So, it’s only fair to keep that factor in mind when discussing the defense.

Louisville also has a defense that wasn’t recruited for this scheme and weren’t recruited by a head coach that cares about defense. That’s not an excuse or a shot at the players, either. Some of these guys just don’t fit and others probably wouldn’t be contributors at this level of competition. That doesn’t mean that the defense as a whole can’t work with those guys and be better than what they’ve shown. We’ve seen them play better against Notre Dame and most of the FSU game.

I’ll also stand by my thinking that the busts that we saw against FSU and BC have made the defense look worse than it really is. They’ve done pretty well at stopping the run and they’ve been good on third downs. The busts happened but if you take those plays out, this team is likely 5-1 with a defense that is doing plenty enough. I think that we’ll start to see them turn the corner after the Clemson game.

I’m sure we’ll know the answer to this before this posts but I think you stick with Micale Cunningham if he’s healthy. He’s played well over the last few weeks and he adds the extra element of his ability to escape and option running. He also has shown a great ability to throw the ball in rhythm over the middle of the field. When he gets to the top of his drop off of play action, the ball is coming out on time and right over the second level. Mix all that in with how he’s thrown the deep ball and it’s hard not to keep him as the guy.

What’s great is that the offense is playing as well as they are and this is still a legit question. It’s also a question that doesn’t really have an answer. Either of these guys could start from here on out and I think most fans would be happy. Their numbers are similar and we’ve all seen that Evan Conley can handle the role. Who saw this coming at the start of the year? But Conley has made some mistakes that I don’t know Micale has. He’s short-armed some throws and taken some shots down the field that he probably shouldn’t have. It’s a small line that separates them but I view that as a good thing.

To be honest, everyone is trying to figure this out around the country. Even the blue blood schools have seen more and more empty seats each year. Tickets are selling but actual seats being filled is a problem for everyone. Pat Fitzgerald thinks it’s because people aer on their phones too much but Pat Fitzgerald is also a moron. It really comes down to the fact that the sport has worked hard to make the product better for television for years now and it’s finally working. College football is also more popular as a whole and people are following the sport and not just their team. Spending an entire day at the stadium means you are missing everything else.

That brings me to the other big issue. Going to a game is a full day commitment. Especially 3:30 games. Even if you don’t tailgate you have to head to the stadium in time to deal with traffic, parking, and walking in. Then getting out of the parking lot is an ordeal. It takes up a lot of the day and plenty of people would rather avoid all of that to watch from home, a party with friends, or a bar. It’s less of a hassle and you’re getting a better view on televisions that cost less than what you’d spend on one or two games for your family.

So, what I think Louisville can do is something that they’ve been doing. Making things more affordable is the best plan. They’ve added the happy hour pricing before the game and concessions aren’t ridiculous. I think they should try to take it even further and have some cheap options at each concession stand and kids items. Cutting down on parking and tickets is also an option they should consider. We all saw what the Yum Center looked like during the NIT when they dropped prices and got away from all of the special seating they have there. Plenty of folks took advantage and showed support. The fact that it was the NIT didn’t matter. People came for the experience. I think we would see a similar type of turnout if they priced things in a way that an average family could afford them.

The offense has been great over the last few weeks so it is kind of hard to find an issue but they can actually be more consistent running the ball. Wake sold out to stop the run but Louisville should be expecting that each week. They also had some big runs against BC but they need to get more 5-7 yard runs. BC had 9 tackles for loss in that game and had a handful of other stops for small gains. Getting stuck in third and long won’t work out well at all against Clemson, Miami, and Syracuse.

I don’t expect a bunch of shootouts in the second half of the schedule, though. Miami’s offense is the best they will face on paper and they’re giving up more sacks than almost anyone in the country. Their line makes it hard to push the ball down the field and that’s where all of their talent winds. UVA has tons of issues on offense too because they don’t have enough play makers. UK is starting a wide receiver at quarterback. NC State lost everyone from their offense and they’re still trying to figure out what they are. I expect the defense to look a lot better in part because they’re not playing the top offenses in the conference after this week.