The mailbag is just about as inconsistent as the football team has been this year. Things have been mostly good an fun this year but there’s still the obvious missed opportunities that have been frustrating. A play or two goes the way of the Cards against Florida State and this team is already bowl eligible but here we sit. After a bad week at Miami the mailbag took a bit of a turn as expected.
As always, send your questions via Twitter (@keith_wynne) or email (email@example.com).
FROM STEPHEN VIA EMAIL
Are our kickers incapable of getting the ball into the end zone on a kickoff, or is it our special teams strategy to kick it short? Our coverage rarely seems to stop the return inside the 25, so you’d think we would kick it deep, if we could.
I don’t think Louisville has a guy that can consistently get the ball five yards into the endzone. I tend to think that’s where coaches won’t allow guys to return it from. At the edge of the endzone becomes a player’s choice kind of situation. At least that’s what I tend to think. So because the kickers Louisville has can’t get it that deep they try to angle to one side of the field in hopes to force the returner to stay outside the hash. That shrinks the field and allows the coverage team to cover a smaller area.
Uofl’s return defense has been solid this year but it has definitely tailed off as the season has gone on. They don’t have another game this year against a team with a good return game but UK does have a guy that’s hit a couple of nice returns this year. One thing that should keep improving with the new staff is special teams. We’ll likely start to see some of the younger guys out there trying to earn more playing time. My theory is having so many starters and contributors out there has hurt them because guys are dinged up and tired as the year goes on.
@Keith_Wynne mailbag open? curious what individuals on defense you think have improved the most from the start of the season to now.— Chris Hatfield (@ChrisDHatfield) November 10, 2019
Moving forward, what is the expectation of the defense?— eric (@ericvtine) November 10, 2019
I decided to throw these two together because they’re actually similar in a way. Finding guys that have improved is hard to do because this defense has been so inconsistent. They looked very good against UVA a few weeks ago and then they look like trash off a bye week. And it’s everyone that’s inconsistent. There is no Jon Greenard type of guy on this team that you know will play well even if the defense isn’t. There’s no Jaire Alexander type of talent either. So you’re going to have more games like Miami or Boston College than you do UVA or Half of the Clemson game.
But, I think the fact that they can play like they did against UVA or that first half and change of the Clemson game is encouraging for the future. The scheme and the coaching can work well. It might not be next year when they take that next step but my hope is that a full year and some new blood will help that happen. As for the rest of this year, there’s the positive that NC State and Syracuse have been very bad on offense and UK is still starting a receiver at quarterback. They also don’t have to play a bunch a receivers like the guys that Miami has. I can’t say that things will be better going forward, but I do think there have been signs that should lead to some optimism.
Should I just forget that game ever happened?— Nathan Goodpaster (@Ngoods6) November 11, 2019
I don’t think anyone should ignore how the team played in this game. I was pretty bad in all three phases and that’s not a good sign coming off of a bye. It wasn’t a quarter like the UVA game where the offense didn’t do anything. It was a full game of bad from just about everyone. So, to me, it’s an opportunity to realize that this team still isn’t all the way there. The staff probably isn’t completely there either. Knowing how to get your team focused and to come out strong in a big game like this is something that isn’t necessarily a given when you have only been around your guys for less than a year.
I don’t know that any reaction to this loss is unfair outside of the few ridiculous overreactions I saw on Twitter that night. This game was an opportunity to reach a bowl and start a winning streak that could end in a NY6 Bowl. It’s also a glaring sign that this program has room to grow to get to where they should be. Miami is probably better than most though, especially me. They’re probably a 8 or 9 win team this year. But, this is the worst performance of the year. You can’t throw it away but it might just be an anomaly.
FROM CHARLIE VIA EMAIL
Would you give any of our defensive team (DC included) a passing grade and if so whom?
For the Miami game alone, there’s not much to hang their hat on. The secondary had what I feel is their first truly poor showing. They had given up some big gains and catches on the year but they were rarely just beaten routinely in coverage until Saturday. The linebackers were out of position a ton in this game and the run fits were bad a lot in the first half. The defensive line didn’t do enough to disrupt the running game either. No group of players made enough plays. But I didn’t see anything to make me question the calls from Bryan Brown. He was aggressive and put guys in position to make plays but they just didn’t make the plays. A couple of plays were on alignment and there was the fake screen that Yeast bit on.
Individually, I think that Rodjay Burns had a good game and so did Jared Goldwire. No one in the secondary played well but Anthony Johnson didn’t give up much. It was a bad game by just about everyone but I was genuinely surprised by how competent Miami looked up front. I was also surprised by how aggressive they were throwing the ball. Neither of those things seemed to be a thing they could do earlier this year. Brown adjusted n the second half but it was way too late.