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The Wynnedbag: Week Five

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NCAA Football: Eastern Kentucky at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The mailbag is super late this week because going back to work after vacation is still the worst thing on earth. Things should be back to normal this week for the BC game. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how Louisville fans have been taking the FSU loss and the season overall. I wondered if people would flip out after losses that could have been wins. So far, it seems that people still see the positives and are hanging onto them.

As always, send your questions via Twitter (@keith_wynne) or email (keithwynne2@gmai.com). If you have a protected Twitter account and I don’t follow you, I can’t see your tweet. So if that’s the case, send me an email.

This is a fun one. The first play will probably be surprising. They would probably be able to kill with the flexbone option play with Marshon Ford as the fullback and Hawkins and Hall as the wingbacks. Malik Cunningham is plenty quick enough to execute the tight turn and sprint option on the play and you get both running backs in the game with their speed on the edge.

Louisville also needs to run a reverse off of outside zone. They should put Keion Wakefield or Josh Johnson on the outside and run a reverse off of a run play that they run all the time. I like the idea of using a speedy guy that isn’t Tutu, who the defense is already keying on.

Why not run some 5-wide to spread the field out and get your five top receivers on the field together. I’d love to see them run a backside post with one outside receiver. A short crosser with the most inside receiver. The outside receiver to the other side would run a go route down the sideline. The other two receivers would run an intermediate route outside the numbers. That gives a quick option if the defense blitzes. Two deep routes that are easy to pick from based on what the safety does. Then you have two medium routes that could beat a zone. Plus you have mobile quarterbacks that can take off in the middle of the field if nothing is open.

Louisville allowed 11 tackles for loss against FSU and six of those were sacks. By my rough count when I rewatched the game, only one of those sacks was on the offensive line. That’s just my opinion based off of what I watched but I feel like the other five were due to Malik bailing on the play too quickly and deciding to try to run or holding onto the ball too long. It’s an issue that he’s had for a while now and I’m not sure he grows from that unless he becomes the unquestioned full-time starter and gets more game reps.

As for who has been the best quarterback and who is the “guy” going forward, I think it’s likely Jawon Pass. Passing statistics don’t really matter as much as they normally would because the offense is so run heavy. Being able to get things done in the run game as well as keeping the offense on schedule are key. Pass is better at those things, to me. Malik has a bit of “boom or bust” to his game that would probably work fine if this team had a really good defense and an offensive line that can pass protect better. But, as this team is constructed now, a Pass-led offense is more consistent.

I think it’s a mix of both. The wide receivers aren’t speed merchants so you don’t always see guys getting behind the defense or running away from people on their routes. What they are good at is body positioning, route running, and making contested catches. Against Notre Dame, they really didn’t do any of those things well which was frustrating to watch but I think they’ve done better with them in the other games. My hope is that Dez having a big game last week will give Satterfield more confidence and he will open things up more to let these guys make plays down the field.

Malik has had some consistency issues as well as issues with just letting the ball go. He took a sack early last week where he pumped twice and just didn’t let it rip. He also still struggles with looking to run much too quickly. This offense is mostly “one read” for the quarterback and the play action things they do on nearly every throw are built in to make the read easier. For whatever reason, Malik hasn’t always done well with making the simple plays but he has hit some of these big throws by making the easy read and then making the right throw. It’s really just consistency with him and limiting negative plays. If they open things up and he can limit the mistakes, I think we’ll see an improved passing game.

Up until last week it was just guys making mistakes and the other team taking advantage. ND hit some crossers that were frustrating but their design is so good that I don’t know how you stop them. UGA got hit by them too two weeks ago. The long run that Book had and the WKU long touchdown were flukes to me but the FSU game showed some real issues.

The blown coverages on the outside were the obvious focus but they really didn’t do well covering anything in the middle of the field all game. FSU barely missed any passes all game and UofL only broke up two passes on the day. The FSU receivers were running free over the middle and UofL was a step behind all game.

It seems to me that everyone is still playing too timid in pass coverage. Guys on the outside are bailing out at the snap even though they’re in off coverage. I never saw that from the App State corners. They always sat and let the receiver eat up that cushion. Then they were able to meet receivers at their break and sometimes jump those routes for picks or PBUs. UofL is allowing those easy slants and in routes and the corner is always a step behind. The linebackers are also not getting into passing lanes in the middle of the field. They’re too slow in their reaction to routes and throws. I expected C.J. Avery to excel in coverage as a former safety but that hasn’t happened.

The pass rush needs to be a bit better, too. They haven’t been bad or anything but they can cause more discomfort for quarterbacks. Getting those guys uncomfortable should force some errant throws that can be picked off. The bottom line is that they need to be more aggressive and take more chances.

From Dave

Does a healthy Puma make the difference in this game?

Personally, I think he would have. Malik didn’t play poorly and he made some throws that led to big plays for the offense. The question to me is if Pass could have made those same throws. I tend to think he would have and he also wouldn’t have had as many negative plays as Malik. Even if he didn’t make all of those throws, I think you have to take the fact that he keeps the offense in more manageable situations as a bigger factor.

Obviously, that all goes away if you get the Jawon Pass that fumbles like he did against ND. But I think that he is more likely to keep the offense on schedule and protect the ball. To me, that’s what this team needs more than they need the big throws that Malik has hit.

One of my biggest frustrations was that they waited until they were down near the goal line before they tried to run a jet sweep with Tutu. FSU has a fast defense so I think that they wanted to do more direct things with the run game but I really wish they would have at least mixed some of the misdirection stuff in. Early in the game, FSU’s second level guys were just waiting for the running backs right in every gap that was available. They weren’t even respecting the possibility that Louisville could hit them on quick edge plays.

I do wonder if they avoided those plays after they got down because they didn’t want to risk a turnover. We’ve seen how those option plays can lead to fumbles. Once they got back into the game, things were working well on offense so maybe they just stuck with what was working. It doesn’t make much sense to completely abandon things that have worked for three games unless it’s based off of an adjustment. I just can’t see this staff drawing up the game plan and saying “Let’s not do the stuff that has worked”.