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What To Watch For: Eastern Kentucky

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NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Louisville Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

CAN LOUISVILLE EXECUTE BETTER THIS WEEK

Louisville played a very good game overall when you consider all that this team has gone through over the last year. There is still a lot of room to improve in a few areas, however. The offense played about as well as you can against a top ten team with multiple NFL players on the defense. The only real issue on offense was that they weren’t as crisp as you want them to be. That’s to be expected with a new offensive scheme but the faster they get to things looking the right way, the faster they get more big plays.

Most of their issues revolve around timing with motion guys not always being at the right spot at the snap. That will improve with more film and practice. I am of the belief that game film is the best tool for coaches and the staff now has a game to work with. I don’t know that it will be where it needs to be this weekend but I don’t think it will look so rushed and out of sorts like it did at times.

Bryan Brown has a lot more to fix on his side of the ball. The defense didn’t execute very well at all and it was at its worst against the run. All defenses depend on gap discipline but this defense is unique in the way that they go about doing that. Louisville had a bunch of plays on Monday where guys looked to avoid blocks and ended up out of their gap or they didn’t fire off the ball quickly enough and got pushed out of their gap. I’d bet that the film study wasn’t a lot of fun for guys at each level of the defense with linebackers possibly getting it the worst. The positive is that they will be going up against a team that runs the ball a lot and they will have the opportunity to work out the things they’ll be practicing this week.

WILL THE SHORT WEEK BE AN ISSUE FOR THE TEAM

We heard a lot about the mock game that Louisville had last week to make sure they have all of the little things down. This week they will have to work with a very short week to prepare for Eastern Kentucky. Satterfield hasn’t gone over how the schedule was adjusted but I’d imagine the team had some sort of practice on Tuesday after film. Guys didn’t get a full day to rest their bodies. If they did, you’re losing a day of practice and prep.

I also think it’s always good for a team to get a day to move on from the previous game. These guys have had a lot of positive talk in their ear after this game and getting right back into it for the next game could possibly be an issue. Obviously my hope is that the coaching staff will make sure the team handles the short turnaround well but it’s hard to know because they’re all on a short schedule too.

LOUISVILLE WILL PUSH THE BALL DOWN THE FIELD

As I’ve been able to watch the game again I’ve noticed that Notre Dame did a good job of mixing up their coverages. I expected Louisville to push the ball down the field once they got the running game going and that happened immediately. But, the Irish did well to mix in some off coverage on the outside.

Louisville will stretch the field this weekend to get things going for Seth Dawkins and Dez Fitzpatrick. Neither receiver saw the ball much last week but they should have a much easier time getting open this week. The offense should also expand more against a lesser opponent. Look for the staff to use play action to spring these guys down the sideline.

JAWON PASS WILL SHOW IMPROVEMENT AS A PASSER

Another thing that Notre Dame did well was cover. The offense doesn’t have a lot of reads to make for the quarterback. The run game leads to a lot of man coverage and the Notre Dame defense was very sticky in their coverage. The Irish broke up four passes past the line of scrimmage and sometimes you just have to give credit to the defender. They left small windows for Pass to hit and made a play on the ball when it came.

I also felt that Pass did a good job not being reckless with the football. He pumped a handful of times in this game before choosing differently. The offense asks the quarterback to make a read and let it loose. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that Pass didn’t make some of those throws. However, it is fair to wonder if his timing was poor. One stat does stand out and should be taken into account. Pass struggled when ND rushed four. He was 1/9 at one point late in the third quarter. When ND blitzed, he was 6/10. The ND defensive coordinator called a good game. I don’t see that happening this weekend.

BRYAN BROWN WILL CALL A GAME THAT SHOULD SLOW DOWN THE EKU RUNNING GAME

Eastern Kentucky will run a lot of plays out of a basic three receiver formation out of the shotgun. Even with that formation, they won’t throw the ball nearly as much as you’d expect. I think Bryan Brown will be prepared for the running game this week because he can be aggressive with his defensive backs. He mixed things up a lot against the Irish but at times he wasn’t able bring his safeties up to help against the run. He’ll be able to do that this week and I think Louisville will shut down the Colonels run game.

EKU likes to get outside with their run and they did a good job with that last week. Russ Yeast and Khane Pass will help much more with the run this week and contain will be better overall. As the game went on the defense improved with their contain and started to make it harder for the Irish to get outside. What we’ll see more of this week is penetration from the interior players. We got plenty of that on short yardage plays but I think we’ll see more guys getting through gaps and getting tackles behind the line. Brown’s defense should be better as teams spread the field. I think he’ll show out this weekend.