Louisville handled Western Kentucky pretty easily last week but the mailbag questions showed a trend with the fanbase. UofL fans are now expecting to beat the teams they’re supposed to beat and they expect a high level of play in those wins. I, for one, am here for it. This program has a chance to take a big step forward this season so there's some anxiety that they won’t take advantage of the opportunity.
As always, send your questions via Twitter (@keith_wynne), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), the comments, or Card Chronicle’s Facebook page.
There has to be a way to get Smith and Atwell on the field together right??— LJ tha Fiasco (@LJthaFiasc0) September 13, 2020
Louisville was able to get both Braden Smith and Tutu Atwell on the field at the same time last weekend but I think the bigger thing is how they did it. Smith has been mentioned a ton by the staff and his teammates since he got on campus in the spring and I think it’s important to note that the staff figured out how they could best utilize him without needing mutliple games or anything like that. They went four-wide early on third and long and used Dez Fitzpatrick as a backside decoy while running Tutu up the middle of the field to take away a Safety. Smith is fast enough to run by nearly any Safety he will see this year and he’s a good enough route runner that he can create separation from slot corners he will see most often.
Louisville also used formations where Smith and Tutu were the only receivers on the field. I found this really interesting because it opens up some opportunities to take advantage of teams stacking the box. If you’re a Defensive Coordinator and you see “21 personnel” (Two running backs, one tight end, two receivers) you will likely think run when you’re playing Louisville. Bringing a safety down into the box to help against the run leaves you with potentially three defensive backs to cover Louisville’s quickest and fastest receivers. Good luck.
Would you make a change at punter?— Nathan Goodpaster (@Ngoods6) September 13, 2020
Initially I thought they needed to change punters after the first dropped snap but I realize that it’s the first time that Logan Lupo had played in a college game. If you pull a guy after that, you’re not going to get anything out of that player going forward. It would kill their confidence and even if you put them back out there, they’d be more nervous than they were in the first place.
Louisville should be in good shape with either Lupo or Ryan Harwell, but I think it’s important to stick with the guy who won the job until they show that they can no longer do it. The blocked punt wasn’t on Lupo so it’s really about the dropped snap. The only concern I have going forward is that he didn’t get great distance on his rugby punts. I would like to see that improve going forward.
After one game how concerned are you with the offensive line?— Sheriff Gene Freak (@LP6188) September 13, 2020
Run game seemed same feast or famine as last year but fewer negative plays and more just running into a wall and getting 1-2 yards. Worrisome or promising?— Impeach Trump Again (@CardsFan922) September 13, 2020
And what's up with the second half funk, two years in a row against wku...
UofL gave up 10 TFL last night and while WKU’s defense is respectable, it’s not the level of defense they will see in the next 2 opponents. Are there simple changes in the running game scheme to limit these losses?— raylanmanny (@raylanmanny) September 13, 2020
To me it looked like the o-line had trouble getting to the second level and springing huge run plays. Western’s front 7 played fairly well, but we’ll face much better in ACC play. Cause for concern or way too early to tell?— Dominique, First of his name (@NiqueObrien) September 13, 2020
So the Offensive Line and run game were pretty popular this week. It’s understandable because UofL had -10 rushing yards in the first quarter and finished the game with 10 tackles for loss allowed. But I think those stats are misleading. UofL had only allowed 5 tackles for loss halfway through the fourth quarter. They had 5 negative runs on the last drive of the game which skewed all the numbers. PFF graded out the line as the best in the country this past weekend and that’s likely because that last drive was considered “garbage time”.
Did the line play really well overall? Not really. But they didn’t play nearly as poorly as it seemed. We’re used to lots of big runs from the running backs and we only got one in this game. The yards they gained were earned the hard way and there weren’t a lot of gaping holes like we saw last year. They did pass protect extremely well against a Defensive Line that has two very good pass rushers on the edges. That’s a positive with two new Offensive Tackles.