#37 Justin Ford
Position: Defensive Back
Hometown: Concord, NC
Thoughts: It feels like the Cards just pulled in Ford a few weeks ago and them, BAM, here he is appearing on the Countdown a short time later. Life comes at you fast. Ford was a get for the Cards out of Golden West Community College, which 100% sounds made up, as a Top 5 JUCO corner in the country. I just spoke a few days ago about ShaDon Brown needing to bolster his roster spots and get some younger guys built up, Ford is step one in that journey. Bringing in a guy with some experience at this level but who can still be trained and still has a couple seasons left to contribute is a nice addition to that group. While I’m not sure if Ford can outright take away a spot from a projected starter during the fall it appears he has an eye for the ball and could be a great option when Coach Brown goes nickel/dime or needs another body.
In the film below you’ll see a couple things jump out quick. One, he can actually grab an interception or three (Cards finished 112th nationally in interceptions in 2018), two, he can make a special teams play (Cards had only 2 blocked kicks/punts in 2018), three, he has speed, and four, he isn’t afraid of contact.
If Ford doesn’t earn reps equivalent to that of a starter in 2019 I wouldn’t be all that surprised as it will take some adjustment to get him brought in, get caught up in the weight program, the nutrition program, etc but I will be surprised if he doesn’t make an appearance in one way or another every single week. I think he has the skill to add depth today, 37 days from kickoff, and the potential to be a heavy contributor next season.
Just wanted to give a hat tip to the graphic artist Louisville has doing some of their edits this year. I’ve seen some really cool stuff and I know the players really dig them. I will say though…I’ve yet to see a cookie cake from a recruit on an official visit and that, well, thats a tad bit disappointing.
#37 Ryan Chalifoux
Class: RS Sophomore
Hometown: Champaign, IL
Thoughts: Ryan may not be a household name right now, but check back a year from now and I bet he is involved in a much larger topic of discussion. Who is replacing Creque? In the recently released pre-fall depth chart Ryan is listed at #2 in the PK position, meaning he is one play away from replacing the moist accurate kicker in the history of the program. While I’m not sure how many reps Ryan will see in 2019, one thing is for sure. Chalifoux can let it fly….
While it is a bit tongue in cheek to post a kickers Hudl video it’s actually a great position to watch film on. When looking at a kicker you don’t have to guess how his skills will translate to Division-I in most scenarios. Sure, there is a different level of pressure with 60,000+ eyes on you but if that tree trunk leg can boot it 60 yards on a high school field, you can bet you’re golden cleat he can kick it at least that far on a collegiate field (shout out to the field maintenance crew).
I mention this because one thing that has not been discussed at all with the new staff is the topic of touchbacks. I ranted (and I do mean ranted) on this topic the last few years, so why not carry on the tradition. Louisville hates touchbacks. Last season UofL only had 11 touchbacks all season, or about 22% of the time. In 2017 it was slightly better at 25%, but 2016 (11%) was laughable. If you go back beyond 2016 the numbers do increase to the mid 30’s which is still only an average number nationally but all the way back to 2009 38% is the highest conversion rate on a season, and eight of the last ten years Louisville’s opponent has not only had a higher touchback conversion % on the season but they have been substantially higher. During the last ten seasons Louisville has an average conversion percentage of 22%. During that same time frame their opponent is at 32%. If you just do the last five years (Petrino 2.0) UofL’s conversion goes up to 27% but their opponent’s jumps all the way to 45%. A difference of 18%. Why does any of this matter? Glad you asked.
Last season Appalachian State had 50 touchbacks, or almost a 59% conversion on the season. That forced their opponent to start, on average for the whole year, almost 69 yards from the endzone. Louisville, in comparison, allowed their opponents to start at approximately 65 yards from the endzone. Those 4-5 yards on average are a big deal over the course of the season. Just image if your opponent got five free yards every single drive. As much as I love Creque, if my man can’t get it in the endzone, let Chalifoux send it deep, saving the collisions, and potentially saving the Cards about 5 yards every single drive. In my mind, if I’m a coach and my field goal kicker can’t consistently get it in the endzone then you find a second kicker who can. Teams usually carry 2-3 on the roster anyway, why not have a “big leg” and an “accurate leg” both in the chamber? I know special teams often gets overlooked but that third phase it critical in fielding a winning team.
2020 Special Teams Coach Brad Stevens????