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Louisville Football Mailbag: Part 3

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Alabama v Louisville Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Let’s finish up the mailbag series with some hot takes and random hypotheticals.

I wanted to start this mailbag off a little spicy but the answer to this one is a flat “no”. Purdy has a solid chance to come in and be the starter next year if no one takes the lead at the position this year but throwing him out to the wolves against Notre Dame would be a bad idea. There are still major questions with the offensive line and the atmosphere will likely be crazy. I just don’t know that risking a freshman’s confidence in a season that you won’t likely have much success is a good plan.

If your question was really asking if he has the talent to beat out those guys, I would say he probably does. Honestly, I think that he or Tee Webb could come in and play next year based on their fit in the system and the fact that neither Pass or Cunningham have been able to show us what we need to see so far. It’s an unfair situation because all we know is the current quarterbacks in the old offense and all we know is the other guys playing in high school. But, even if you were to go back to how these guys played in high school the new guys put up much better numbers than Pass and Malik.

I think Louisville will end up fifth in the division in total defense or yards per play allowed. I could actually see them being better than that but I think that the teams ahead of them could all see improvement on defense this year. Syracuse should be better and FSU improved as the season went on last year. BC has a lot of change going on on defense but their offense always helps the defense stay fresh. NC State and Wake have big questions on defense and I don’t see either team being better and both could take a step back.

Louisville has a scheme that will be very aggressive but that’s the only thing I tend to worry about. The run defense should be very improved just by having better run fits. Alex Kupper had some very blunt things to say about how poor the defense was last year and that was his main issue. The defense didn’t even know how to do the most basic thing they should have been coached on. When you go back and watch App State’s defense last year, guys were always in the gaps they were supposed to be in and there was typically another guy right there with them to make the play. That led to a lot of long second and third downs and that aggressive mindset worked well because it’s much easier to defend those situations than third and manageable or short.

This is similar to the question above but is more directly about talent. To me, the issues last year were about 75% VanGorder’s issues as a coach and his scheme and 25% talent and injuries. BVG kind of got a free pass from fans because Petrino obviously mailed it in but that defense didn’t even sniff Georgia Tech’s offense and they had plenty of issues before that game. The scheme was still just as boring as it was at Notre Dame when he was fired and he had no business making a million dollars last year.

The depth chart last year had some very solid players and some very good players. There wasn’t a position that just didn’t have talent. The issue there was that they didn’t have enough depth at every position. When Dorian Etheridge and C.J. Avery went down with injuries they ended up having to play a walk-on in certain situations. They also had to play a bunch of freshmen at all three levels but I still think that a lot of that had to do with the staff just not caring and putting guys in their imaginary doghouse whenever they felt the urge. When you go back and watch the games again it’s very obvious that they had good players on the field. It’s also obvious that they were being asked to play the most vanilla defense imaginable.

Jamious Griffin by a mile. Griffin is the type of running back that you can build your offense around and he is a perfect fit for this new scheme. I’m not knocking anyone in the running back room when I say this but he would probably end this season with the most carries if he had come here. Tyler Devera is the other obvious choice here. UofL still has a need at tight end for the upcoming season and Devera would have added a very good option to provide depth at the very least.

App State didn’t get too gimmicky against Penn State last year and I think that’s probably a good comparison to this game. However, App State also had a team that had been coached by the same guys for years and they knew their identity even in the first game. Louisville isn’t at the level they need to be to be able to just go punch Notre Dame in the mouth. So, I think we’ll see some trick plays as well as a lot of misdirection stuff to try to gain some kind of advantage.

This is a pretty fun hypothetical. I think we have to assume that this would be in the ACC and in that case I think they would definitely have a good chance to be a playoff team. That’s also assuming Strong has the guys on defense that he had when he was here. But then you’d have to give him the offensive players Louisville had with Lamar, right? In that case, the offense probably wouldn’t be all that great, in my opinion.

I recently took a look at Michael Vick’s stats and how that VT team played on offense and I think that they did such a great job utilizing Vick as a part of that offense as opposed to him actually being the offense. That was always the issue to me with Lamar in Petrino’s system and I think Charlie would have used a guy like that more in the way Vick was used. But the issue is that Tech absolutely pounded everyone with their running game and UofL’s offensive line wasn’t nearly good enough for Strong to be able to do the same.

So if you really dig into it, I don’t think that it would have led to a level of improvement that they would be competing for championships.