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The Wynnedbag: Rivalry Week Edition

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 06 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game - Louisville v Ole Miss Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Wynnedbag is back after a long hiatus. It was good to get back to answering some really good questions this week. Let's get right to it.

My thinking is that Bryan Brown will hope to throw a lot of looks at UK but that only happens if they stop the run. Will Levis needs to be made uncomfortable when he drops back to pass but that doesn’t mean you have to have guys rushing him. You need to make him move or make him think, or both. What we’ve seen over the last few weeks is UofL getting pressure on the quarterback and forcing guys to move or run. But at times, they have also forced quarterbacks to hitch or pump because they haven’t been able to get a good read on the coverage.

It’s not a proper comparison but I always go back to the Clemson game in 2019 when they confused Trevor Larence and he threw two interceptions. Then you have the UCF game this year when they took nearly everything down the field away and contained Dillon Gabriel. UofL has done well to throw different things at offenses and the mix of pressure with coverage has been very good over the last month or so. If they can get UK into longer passing situations I think we will see a good mix of both.

Personally, my biggest concern is how they handle UK’s run game but they handled Syracuse and Duke very well the last two weeks and outside of the Duke blowout (83 of their 183 yards came in the fourth quarter) they haven’t allowed four yards per carry since nearly September. You can’t ask for much more from your run defense.

The issue for Louisville is that even though they’ve handled good rushing attacks pretty well lately, they still give up chunk runs too often. Duke had a handful in the first half, Syracuse had a handful, so have others. They don’t do a good job of consistently stopping rushing attacks and getting off the field. When they have, the offense hasn’t been able to consistently move the ball. It’s what has changed over the last two weeks but can they continue the trend?

A very subtle change with the offense over the last few weeks has been the use of a “sugar huddle”. Lousiville will huddle up closer to the line than usual and then they run up to the ball once they break the huddle. It puts pressure on the defense because guys start to rush and panic. It also makes it impossible for the defense to make a call based on the formation or look. Typically you see the offense line up and the defense is looking over for the call because the defensive coordinator wants to get an idea of what the offense will call. A sugar huddle mostly eliminates that possibility.

Not only do I think we will see this again on Saturday, I think we will see them motion after they get to the line. Rushing the play is all about not letting the defense adjust but adding some motion could cause confusion. Guys are already rushing to get lined up and possibly looking to the sideline. Add in a guy running across their face and you get guys having to add communication to the mix.

This is a fantastic question by the way. A really subtle thing that has helped the offense a lot.

The Louisville offensive line is the key to this game, in my opinion. They have to open holes for the running game so that they can avoid long yardage passing situations. That’s a key to the offense in general but more important this week as UK does a really good job on third and long while they’re flat out bad on third and medium. UofL has to run the ball well so that they can get into manageable passing situations.

Kentucky has 28 sacks on the season but 9 of them were against their out-of-conference opponents that have combined for 5 wins on the season. 9 more were against LSU and Tennessee who are among the worst in the country in sacks allowed. That’s the majority of their sacks in four games that you would expect them to sack the quarterback.

Louisville is one of the better teams in the country when it comes to protecting the quarterback and they should be able to do so this weekend. As usual, “should” is the operative word. This is one area of the game where UofL has an advantage. They need to play like it.

I sure as hell hope so. If not, this fanbase is going to explode. In all seriousness, Louisville has improved up front over the last two years. The offensive line has all but cured their issues with tackles for loss and sacks. The offense is averaging more rushing yards and more yards per carry. That’s without all of the big Javian Hawkins runs we saw over the last two years. They should be able to sustain drives against a Kentucky defense that has taken a step back from where they were a few years ago.

As for the defensive line, it’s much better but I don’t know that the defense as a whole has shown me enough to trust that they can’t have a letdown on Saturday. The defensive line has more size with Malik Clark in the middle and Yaya Diaby at one of the end spots. Where they’ve improved the most, though, is with their depth. They play 12-13 guys in the rotation so they have fresh bodies all game now. When you get to this point in the season you end up with a lot of guys that are banged up from the wear and tear of the season. UofL doesn’t have that problem as all of these guys are rationing snaps. It should help them on Saturday.