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Music City Bowl Film Review: Second Quarter

NCAA Football: Music City Bowl-Mississippi State vs Louisville Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville’s defense had a strong second quarter but a very questionable ejection of Dorian Etheridge led to another touchdown. The offense hadn’t been holding up their end of the bargain until later in the quarter when they finally got things moving and put some points on the board.


You won’t find a play call that I hate more than this one. I despise option plays into the boundary. They make me scream at my TV even when it works. I can appreciate the formation on this play looking to help the call but you’re still hoping that either the defensive end screws up or the play-side linebacker not beating a block. It’s just not likely that both of those things happen and that’s why this play fails to work so often. Louisville had a chance to get a first down here and continue a drive that could have tied the game. To me, this was a “hope” play call that wasn’t likely to work.


This play is a good illustration of the defense not totally getting what the coaches want to see from them. Bryan Brown has talked about “The Other 10” which pretty much translates to “do your job”. Chandler Jones doesn’t do that here because he bites on this obvious inside move that the receiver makes after the catch. The receiver is running directly into the pursuing defense and Jones still jumps inside. He should be setting up a wall outside of the receiver so that he can’t get back outside of him.

The receiver is running directly at Dorian Etheridge when he catches this pass. Because of poor contain he’s able to make people miss and get a first down. Just really poor awareness by Jones and then poor tackling by Dorian and Isaiah Hayes.


This play stood out to me because it shows what pressure gets you in passing situations. UofL blitzes everyone with zero coverage behind it. They get the desired outcome as they overload on the left side of the defense which draws the offensive line to that side of the field. That allows the outside linebacker on the other side of the field to show man coverage but blitz at the snap which catches the left guard by surprise and he can’t get back to make his block.

This stood out to me because you can see that Tommy Stevens can’t follow through with his motion because the blitzer is right in his face. He ends up just flinging the ball out there and it sails on him and is behind the receiver. This looks like a simple bad throw but there are multiple things that happen that lead to the bad throw.


The defense immediately squandered that really great second down play by giving up another chunk run to the quarterback. UofL is in their “Money” package here where they play six defensive backs and two linebackers. UofL will blitz out of this look plenty but it tends to be obvious when they’re not. So MSU counters what is essentially a defensive shell with a QB Draw where they bave a bunch of big dudes blocking small dudes. Stevens just has to find a path to the first down marker and he does so pretty easily.

This is the type of play that makes ou drop your head into your hands as a fan.


Dorian Etheridge makes a great play here to get downhill and beat the blocker to the spot. He makes #11 look silly so he decides to hold Dorian’s legs down and possibly twist his ankle. Dorian tries to get up but can’t and responds by trying to kick his way free. The refs see him kicking and toss him from the game.

Here’s a simple solution. Any play that results in an ejection is automatically reviewed. They review so many plays, why not add a couple more per season. It’s not like this type of thing happens often. The refs would have seen that #11 is in the wrong here and Dorian is reacting to him. Call offsetting penalties and move on.


Micale Cunningham had a few very good games this year but he really showed out in the bowl game. He made the right decision on nearly every play and he used his legs in the exact way that they need him to use them. He didn’t try to do too much when a passing play broke down and when he kept it on option plays it was on plays like this. I really like how subtle his movements are on this run because it’s what allows him to force the missed tackles while also getting a big gain.

The blocking is also outstanding on this play. Ean Pfeifer gets a nice seal on the edge and Caleb Chandler pulls around to destroy the play side linebacker. I don’t remember seeing them pull so much with the blocking scheme in any other game but I’d assume that means they saw something on film that they thought they could exploit.


Scott Satterfield pulled out a trick play to get Louisville’s first touchdown and I don’t know that it could have been better. Situationally it’s second and short so the defense is going to be in man coverage with some sort of pressure coming to get an extra man in the box to stop a run play or pressure the quarterback on a quick pass. Putting Javian Hawkins in motion gives you confirmation that they’re in man while also adding a blocker for Tutu once he gets the ball.

The key to the play, however, is Marshon Ford getting a little chip block at the top of the screen. The little two second block convinces Willie Gay (#6) that this is just a normal screen play to Tutu. You can see him point at Ford to show he’s got him in man and you can see him pause for a split second to see what Ford is going to do. Once he sees him block he takes off for the ball. That leaves Marshon wide open. The play doesn’t work without the coverage, the motion, the blocking, and Tutu being the scariest player on the field.


It was great to see a bunch of seniors make big plays in this game and Cornelius Sturghill may have been the guy that made me the happiest. Sturghill came to Louisville as a solid wide receiver prospect but moved back and forth between offense and defense early on. Then he was shot by a stray bullet and missed an entire year of football. He was a member of UofL’s first ACC recruiting class. Think about that. He waited a long time to have a big game and he earned the right to have it in a bowl game with everyone watching.


Louisville struggled to run the ball a bit in the first half but I loved this specific play. Caleb Chandler and Cole Bentley make great efforts to complete their blocks and Javian Hawkins is able to use his speed and quickness to to get a first down. Chandler runs his guy so far out of the play that he gives up and ends up just resigning himself to whatever happens. Bentley recognizes that there’s a backside linebacker coming over to make a play and he flips around to at least shield Hawkins from the linebacker. I really love the effort from Bentley. It’s the type of play that sums up this offensive line for the season. They always made the extra effort when they could easily just do their initial assignment.


I’m having a hard time not clipping all of these throws Cunningham made on the run. Early season Micale tries to run this and make a play with his legs. It’s great to see him not only make this throw but use the proper mechanics in doing so. You can see that he works to get his shoulders as square as possible before he lets it rip. He even takes a few steps to do so. That allows him to put the pace on the ball that he needs while being able to throw an accurate ball.

I’ve probably been the biggest Cunningham skeptic but it’s impossible to not get at least a little excited thinking about how he progressed and the possibility that he could take another step forward over the summer. He still has moments where he drops his eyes when he sees pressure but the vast majority of the time in this game he used his legs to buy time instead of looking to make a play with them.