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What To Watch For: Western Kentucky

Notre Dame v Louisville Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images


Western Kentucky just flat out does not cover well and it doesn’t seem like they have any way to get better from a personnel standpoint. Trae Meadows and Dionte Ruffin are the starters and the only other corners on the “depth chart” are freshmen. Both of these corners were beaten repeatedly against Central Arkansas and so far only Ruffin has a pass breakup and he only has one.

Louisville’s receivers have had a slow start to the season even though most of the blame doesn’t fall on them. With the amount of man coverage I expect them to see from WKU and the ineffectiveness of that coverage, Louisville should have a much better week. I also think that we’ll see more throws down the field this week as well as more slants and stop routes to the outside. Jawon Pass has to make the throws obviously, but I think we will see more of a focus on those easy timing throws this week. That’s where he looked the best last week.


Tyson Helton’s offense isn’t much different than what Mike Sanford ran last year. The biggest similarity are the routes to create space for other receivers and a quick passing game. The other thing they have in common is trick plays. Western can’t line up and beat Louisville straight up. That’s not to say that Louisville is just a much better team but they just don’t have the athletes you need to create big plays on their own.

That’s why I think we’ll see Helton call a few trick plays in this game to get some big gains. Louisville is extremely aggressive on defense and Bryan Brown’s scheme asks defensive backs to get up the field in run support. It lends itself to misdirection and trick plays. Helton will dial up a lot of both in hopes to get an edge on offense.


Louisville’s defense has approved almost across the board from what we saw last year. One area that they haven’t found success is in the turnover category. Ian Book ran into a blocker and fumbled but Louisville has only forced one fumble and haven’t been able to grab an interception. Steven Duncan has thrown the second most interceptions in the country through two games so one has to hope that Louisville can get one this week.

Duncan is pretty reckless with the football as all of his picks have been on either bad throws, bad decisions, or both. He’s overthrown guys a couple of times and he has too much confidence in his arm. Louisville hasn’t faced many throws this year as Notre Dame played with the lead and EKU is a run heavy offense but WKU will likely air it out more. Louisville will have a good chance to get on the board with an interception or two.


As each week passes, we get a better look at what Louisville’s schedule really looks like. Florida State looks to have a lot of issues with their defense as they’ve blown two big leads so far this year. Syracuse and Wake Forest both have issues on defense. Miami’s offense is young and kinda boring. Almost everyone has some glaring issues that could mean they maybe aren’t as good as they once seemed. While it’ll still take time to really know, it’s obvious that Louisville looks better while others look worse and I think that specific situation could change the season.

Louisville has confidence going into this game and another strong performance will only help this team play better down the road. An underrated aspect of this new coaching staff is that they keep things simple on both sides of the ball. Bryan Brown had his defense executing much better against EKU and the scheme won’t have to adjust each week because the whole idea is to dictate what the offense can do against it. The offense is similar in the fact that they’re going to run the football and build everything else off of that. Louisville has shown that they can run the football well and now you have confidence in the scheme and how the team has played in it. The EKU and WKU games are so important because they both present an opportunity for this team to get better in these new schemes.


Louisville got a lot of things ironed out last week against EKU but Jawon Pass was still up and down in the first half. Pass played much better in the second half when he hit on all six of his passes and completed a downfield throw to Justin Marshall. I tend to think that the staff will only improve with their gameplans going forward and the more film they have on Pass, the better. Most quarterbacks have limitations and most have specific throws that they are better at than others. I think that Pass is best on short timing routes to the outside of the field. I expect the staff to start calling more of those types of plays and we could see that happen this week as WKU plays a lot of man coverage.

Pass hasn’t performed like he needs to for this team to reach it’s potential but he doesn’t need to be a world beater. He just needs to be consistent. Finishing 6-6 last week is really important because he hit throws at different levels and in different areas. He also hit throws from the pocket and on the run. He has something to build on and has to feel better about how he played on Saturday compared to the ND game.