LOUISVILLE HAS TO FIX THEIR ISSUES AGAINST UNBALANCED RECEIVER SETS
In the Miami game, Louisville was beaten multiple times on plays where they faced trips to the wide side of the field. Each time Miami lined up three receivers to that side, UofL failed to defend it with enough players. So Miami just rose up and completed quick screens to one of the three receivers. Louisville had three guys to defend it but that leaves a one-on-one situation and Miami just took the easy yards they were getting. If UofL wanted to keep aligning that way, they would need to at least have Rodjay Burns split out a bit so that he could be a fourth defender. That never happened and Miami just kept doing it.
The other issue against these formations came with the other side of the formation. Miami scored three long touchdowns out of trips to the wide side. On the first one, they used motion to cause confusion. UofL had enough defenders to the short side but they gave away the edge with a stunt by the OLB and the FS attempting to shoot a gap (I think). On the second play, the FS bit on the play fake and let the running back get behind him. On the third play, Miami went unbalanced so there was no eligible receiver on the short side. UofL didn’t adjust to have the corner or the Safety shift to the wide side and Miami ended up with a wide open receiver.
That was the game. No hyperbole. Miami used that formation to get all of their big plays and they used it to move the football down the field and sustain drives. Louisville seemed to adjust in the second quarter but then the big plays started. This is the type of thing they have to fix for good. It’s situational and if they can’t defend it, other teams will do the same thing.
PITT WILL LOOK TO STRETCH THE FIELD
Louisville can’t stop giving up big plays and until they do teams will test them. Pitt likes to work with short and intermediate throws but they pushed the ball down the field in their first game this season. They felt that they had the athletes to get behind the defense and they felt their Offensive Line would give Kenny Pickett time. I don’t see any reason that they won’t try to do the same to Louisville.
UofL has gotten decent pressure on the Quarterback this year but they haven’t gotten home enough and they’ve allowed a throw on the run too often. Pickett is pretty good in that situation. He extends the play well and he keeps his eyes down the field. Pitt also has receivers who can run and Louisville hasn’t shown the ability to make plays on throws down the field. Pitt has to look for big plays. Especially with a running game that hasn’t done much of anything in over a year.
LOUISVILLE WILL LOOK TO BE MORE EXPLOSIVE ON OFFENSE
Tutu Atwell, Seth Dawkins, and Dez Fitzpatrick were all big play receivers last season and UofL’s offense was described as “explosive” by anyone who watched it. So it’s been surprising to see Louisville be more conservative early this season. They hit some big throws against WKU in the first game but some of them were due to the situation as opposed to them being aggressive.
Pitt will dare Louisville to be aggressive and I think Scott Satterfield will be just that. Pitt goes slow on offense so the defense will get more rest than they did last week. Pitt is also very big on balance and running the ball on offense. So UofL doesn’t have to worry much about their own defense getting worn out. I think that might be why we have seen fewer big shots down the field. Satterfield wants to get that balance on both sides of the ball like we saw against Western so you have to help the defense. I don’t know that we’ll see that again going forward.
Essentially, my thinking is that UofL will try to score and they won’t worry about how fast or how often they score. The defensive mindset is that they have to make teams drive the ball on them. They did that against Western and outside of three busted plays, they did a solid job of that against a good Miami offense. They should be better suited to handle a quick strike offense from the defense side of things.
LOUISVILLE’S OFFENSIVE LINE HAS TO CONTINUE TO IMPROVE
UofL started out the WKU game with some real concerns from the Offensive Line. They settled in and UofL started to see some better running lanes for the backs. They also protected Malik Cunningham very well throughout the game. Against Miami, they ran the ball well early but not overly well. Cunningham had good time but had a couple of passing plays where he saw pressure in his face. Overall, the line has played well and the improvement from one game to the next was visible. They will be key going forward when it comes to the offense.
Miami decided to try to keep everything in front of them and they took away the easy deep shots that we’re used to seeing. But UofL gashed them in the running game because they didn’t bring that extra defender up. Pitt could change their identity like Miami did but I expect them to bring a bunch of guys and try to force the issue. The Offensive Line has to hold up and give Cunningham time, because they will have opportunities to hit big plays.