LOUISVILLE SHOULD CONSIDER PLAYING NICKEL AS THEIR BASE DEFENSE
Jack Fagot has played well this season and he has been especially good at setting the edge and stringing out runs to his side. That’s where he would’ve likely struggled but the early returns have been good. But UofL needs another Defensive Back on the field to help defend quick throws in the middle of the field. Fagot can’t hang with the slot guys that UCF has available to them and they haven’t been using a speed back to get outside with the run.
To me, that means that Louisville could utilize a guy like Chandler Jones to play inside in the nickel to be better suited to cover the slot as well as handle run support if and when it’s needed this weekend. Getting more speed on the field could help UofL avoid the chunk plays we saw Ole Miss make in the passing game.
LOUISVILLE WILL LIKELY LEARN ALL THEY WANT TO LEARN ABOUT THEIR RECEIVERS THIS WEEK
UCF plays a lot of man coverage. They press on the outside and they trust their Cornerbacks and Safeties to hold up in coverage against whoever is across the field. The Golden Knights were also beat in man coverage a good amount against Boise State in week one. Even Bethune-Cookman had a nice touchdown pass on a slot fade where the Receiver just beat press coverage.
Louisville has unproven talent at Wide Receiver. They have also started to look to Ahmari Huggins-Bruce as a sort of go-to guy as he has shown off great speed and elusiveness early in his career. The thing is, they need to continue to spread the ball around so that the Golden Knights don’t key on one guy. Slants, deep-ins, comebacks, post routes, and possibly throws down the sideline should be options this week if the Golden Knights do what they’ve done the last two weeks on defense. Louisville’s Receivers can quiet the critics this week. Malik Cunningham can do the same.
MALIK CUNNINGHAM HAS TO AVOID THE URGE TO RUN TOO MUCH
There will be opportunities for Malik to avoid the rush and run the football with the way UCF pressures as well as the amount of man coverage they play. We all remember Lamar Jackson killing teams that played man because their backs were turned to him. That still holds true. But Malik will need to be much better at avoiding the rush while keeping his eyes down the field.
I’m rewatching the EKU game as I’m writing this and the number of times Malik pulled his eyes down while avoiding a rusher leading to a missed wide-open option were maddening. They left two more touchdowns on the field. Malik can make plays with his legs and that aspect of his game is vital to the offense. But, he has guys coming open that can potentially score and he has to see them and get them the ball. He also keeps the “dual” part of “dual-threat” when he throws the ball in these situations. It keeps that defender on his heels instead of screaming up the field at him.
LOUISVILLE COULD HAVE SOME SUCCESS RUSHING THE PASSER FROM ONE SPOT
At least two of the three sacks that the Golden Knights gave up to Boise State were off the left edge. Boise just used speed to bend the edge and wrap around to get to Dillon Gabriel before he could get the ball off. It just so happens that Louisville has seen some success getting pressure off the edge and their best pass rusher tends to line up on the left edge. Louisville won’t likely have a lot of success getting sacks this week because that’s what UCF tries to avoid. Boise got a big lead and forced the Golden Knights into pass-happy mode. I’m doubtful UofL can do the same. But when they do they could see some success here.
- Dillon Gabriel already has half the amount of interceptions as he had last season and both of them were bad.
- Louisville should use tempo in short-yardage situations to try to catch UCF off guard. But, they should look to pass the ball when they do. Use their aggression against them.
- Louisville needs to get back to using motion and misdirection this week. It’s been absent through the first two games and it’s been a factor in the offensive issues.
- The Golden Knights don’t have a sack on the season but that number is deceiving. They put plenty of pressure on the Quarterback at Boise State and got a few hits on him. They will do the same on Friday.
- Louisville may utilize Kendrick Duncan as a spy on third downs. Gabriel has run the ball well this year on scrambles and UofL obviously knows how much that can kill them on defense.
- I’ve been screaming for shorter and quicker passes from Scott Satterfield this year but if we see the Golden Knights stick with their normal defensive scheme, the passing plays we’ve seen for the last two seasons could work well on Friday.