Louisville is sitting at 2-1 for the second straight season and things couldn’t be any more different than they were last year. Fans are arguing over how badly they should have beaten a team as opposed to whether they should have beaten a team that didn’t win a game at all the previous season. Things are positive for the time being and it seems like they are trending to stay that way.
As always, send your questions via twitter (@keith_wynne) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
@Keith_Wynne For the mailbag, I didn’t see or hear Davis’ name against WKU. Was his number just not called or do you think it was a game plan design with Malik/Conley in the game to target the WRs more.— Bryan Lockard (@Byn_Locster) September 15, 2019
Jordan Davis played last week but it was hard for me to tell just how much he was out there. On the year, I don’t think Louisville has a target to the “Y” tight end position. I do think that the game plan was likely geared towards working the ball outside more. The WKU corners were atrocious in earlier games and it only makes sense to try to take advantage of that. They did have some good passing plays outside the hashes so it obviously worked a bit.
I would be surprised if we didn’t see Davis get more looks this weekend and going forward. The staff has talked about him a lot over the summer and fall and they haven’t really been too bashful about singling out guys that have been the focal points so far. FSU is terrible defending the pass so I do think that we will see the offense look to work the middle of the field some this week. Jordan Davis could see a few targets if they do.
D seemed a bit soft vs. the WKU passing game after halftime. Loss of focus with the big lead or something technical? Pass rush didn’t appear disruptive. FSU’s receiving corps is impressive. If Matthews gets to play, that just adds to their potential.— John Barako (@VillefanJB) September 16, 2019
So I got to rewatch the game this week and this was a fair question that a few people seemed to have after the game. To me, it seemed like they just decided to take a very vanilla approach to things in the second half. Scott Satterfield even used the word “cruised” when he described the win on Ramsey & Rutherford. I think they just decided to play their base defenses as well as get some run for depth players.
I think from a fan standpoint we all want to see them just dominate the entire game but I can understand the thinking of wanting to be vanilla with a big lead. You’re giving out less film which is always a positive. You’re also getting your backups easy reps. I think in an ideal world, the staff would want this game or the EKU game later in the season so that they can do more but at this point in the season, Louisville hasn’t shown everything which gives them a little bit of an advantage. At the end of the day, the staff has to decide if they want to get their backups some game reps in the full system or provide less tape for the opponents down the road. To me, it seems like they chose the latter.
From Stephen via email:
The OL has been playing really well. Two years ago most people were pretty happy when Mike Summers was rehired, but the line play never really improved. What has Dwayne Ledford been able to do that Mike Summers could not or would not do?
Per Robbie Bell, everything has just been simplified. He actually pointed out last week that the zone runs that they have been running over and over again were in the playbook before but they’re just running them better. Just think about that. They ran outside and inside zone before this year but they couldn’t pull of the easiest run play possible.
The line has still had some issues this year and that needs to be pointed out. They’ve had a handful of plays where an interior lineman gotten off the ball more quickly and pushed a blocker into the backfield. That goes against the first thing that Ledford coaches and I’m sure it’s something that is pointed out repeatedly in film. Speed off the ball is the thing that I think he’s harped on over and over again and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I think that’s the only thing that’s really changed. They still have room to improve though.
Another thing that stuck out to me from Robbie Bell’s comments to the media last week was that they run the same drills every day. The way he said it made it obvious that they hadn’t done that in the past. It goes back to the point that things have just been simplified for these guys and they’ve responded well.
From J_Perry via the comments:
Random question: how often do you think a team will seek to exploit whatever perceived weakness can be seen in the opponent’s immediate prior game? That is, you’ve only so many hours to plan and practice for the opposing defense, so if the opponent’s safeties, for example, looked like the biggest weakness in game 3—but decent in games 1 and 2—are you going to use most of your time and energy trying to develop plays to exploit that? Just ignoring the full body of work and leaning on recency?
So, this is where the behind the scenes folks come into play. By the time these coaches get to their offices to watch film they have every game cut up and waiting for them. Even if Satterfield likes to watch the next opponent directly after the game, he’d have that film available to him as long as the next team had already played their game. That film is also cut down to an hour or so if not shorter. Hell, I can find full games cut down to a half hour on YouTube. So the staff will have every opportunity to make an educated decision on what are real issues for the opposing team and what is fool’s gold.
Satterfield has repeatedly pointed out that they spend a day on the previous game and then it’s on to the next one. So, it seems like they really have the time to break things down into great detail. A somewhat educated guess from me is that they have film broken down to situational things so that they can look to exploit those things more than the personnel stuff. They’ll want to know how FSU defends third downs more than they want to know who is out there in that situation. Do they blitz or do they like to play a zone to keep things in front of them?
To answer the deeper question of how much do they look at that one specific game or if they maybe started looking at stuff over the summer? They probably cut up some FSU stuff this summer and loaded it into the player’s iPads. It doesn’t hurt anything to give guys a little extra prep on teams that do unique things. But they played these guys last year so it’s not like they need that much extra prep. Also, coaches look for common things with their opponent’s opponents. With FSU playing a 3-4 team last week they would put more focus on how that game went as opposed to ULM the week before. When they go into the BC game I’m sure they’ll look to see how they defended the Kansas and Wake RPO stuff on offense. So it’s less about who they played most recently and more about the similarities of the teams they have played this year.