After a more than disappointing effort against Mississippi last Monday, Louisville fans looked ahead to EKU with the thought that the matchup probably wouldn’t tell us much about the team we have, and after the final whistle I think it’s safe to say that was accurate.
With the Cards controlling the game from start to end, and without much that stuck out or impressed fans, it seems not much has changed since last week. The Cards didn’t dominate the game from the opening kick, but the game was also never really in doubt, so it’s hard to feel any better or worse about the team after what we saw on Monday.
I think if there’s anything to be taken away from this game it’s a few small things. One of the biggest things that Louisville appeared to be missing last week and at the start of the game was it’s running threat on jet sweeps that we saw so much from Tutu Atwell over the last few seasons. The good news it is that it seems Louisville has finally found an option in Braden Smith as he showed flashes as a running option and excelled in punt returns with three punt returns for 71 yards (23.7 yards per return) and a touchdown. If Louisville can figure out to utilize his explosive ability then we may have someone who can fill the shoes that Tutu left.
Another receiver that showed flashes was Ahmari Huggins-Bruce. He’ll likely be remembered from this game for dropping the ball on the one-yard-line, which would have been a Louisville record long receiving touchdown. But even with the boneheaded play, he led the offense in receiving yards and showed an ability to extremely fast and shifty on the 95 yard reception he ultimately fumbled.
The defense snuffed out any and all threats from EKU Friday night, and it appears that they played an awful lot of backups. Hopefully this means that players are able to get a rest ahead of what should be a challenging contest against Central Florida on Friday. Other than that there wasn’t much to take away from this performance except for the fact that the defense forced three turnovers. I know, it’s EKU, but still for a defense that struggled mightily to hang onto interceptions and force fumbles even the smallest successes in this area are something to be celebrated.
Again, there wasn’t an awful lot to take away from this performance, but what I do think is noteworthy is the performance of Louisville’s foes this weekend. UCF let Bethune-Cookman hang around for a good portion of the first half, Florida State has struggled mightily with Jacksonville State after going toe-to-toe with Notre Dame (who barely escaped Toledo this weekend), Wake toyed around with Norfolk State before putting the game away eventually, Syracuse lost to Rutgers, and NC State lost to an unimpressive Mississippi State last week. All the teams I just listed made me greatly concerned after their Week 1 efforts, and I wasn’t alone as ESPN’s FPI adjusted Louisville’s projected record to 4-8. But seeing the way they performed in Week 2 has made me feel a little better, and I’ll be very interested to see how the computers adjust, especially with FSU’s performance.
Louisville now looks ahead to what should be a very challenging contest against Gus Malzahn and the Golden Knights of Central Florida on Friday night. The offense is going to need to find a groove quickly and the defense is going to get a second chance to show its improvement against a strong offense.
Still not feeling great, but the performances all around the college football world give me some hope.