Louisville lost the lead in the second quarter but I don’t think that they played poorly at all. The offense had a three-and-out at a poor time but I think that both sides of the ball just fell victim to some better plays from Wake Forest. This team also gets credit for not flinching as the game started to turn. This could have been a game where they pressed and turned the ball over or gave up a big play. They strapped in and kept this to a manageable situation.
In my #W2W4 post last week, I asked Scott Satterfield to let it all hang out. He did just that with this great trick play to get Marshon Ford open down the sideline. I particularly enjoyed this play because they didn’t really do anything to set it up. This is their normal outside zone stretch look with Braden Smith coming around for a reverse. The play works well and as I posted in the first quarter post, I think Malik was looking to just put the ball on guys to make sure he didn’t overthrow or underthrow it to the point that they couldn’t catch it.
I really love how Marshon Ford sells this by keeping his momentum while faking the block. He plants his foot and takes off down the field. The design of the play helps him get open by running the deep post to clear out the sideline and it’s wide open.
The focus of this play is the flag which I thought was fair but there’s a more important aspect, in my opinion. Kei’Trel Clark gets beat here as he sits on the route looking for A.T. Perry to run a stop route or another type of intermediate route. Perry runs a go route and Clark has to chase. He takes the flag because the pass was underthrown.
Now for the important part. The pass was overthrown because UofL brings an extra rusher and he hits Sam Hartman square in the ribs. If you go back to the FSU game, they got home with some of their pressures but they were hitting the quarterback just a split second too late. This (and plenty of other throws in this game) is a part of how they’ve been able to avoid big plays. Perry is running free if Hartman doesn’t get hit here.
This was a play that I think looked very bad at the time but it is much more understandable after looking at it again. UofL runs Marshon Ford in motion which gives Malik an indicator of the coverage. The linebacker runs with him which means they are in man coverage. Wake is showing a blitz with only one defender to the running back’s side that could pick him up in coverage.
Malik gets the snap and it appears that when he sees the outside linebacker rushing, he makes the decision to throw the screen to the running back. This is the right decision because there isn’t a defender on that side of the field that picks him up. However, Wake’s very good linebacker Ryan Smenda fakes his blitz and runs down the play. Sometimes the other team calls a better play.
Yaya Diaby got robbed of a strip sack here as you can see that Sam Hartman starts losing the ball as soon as he is hit. But whatever. This is a really great four-man rush from Louisville with three players getting home. Louisville also does a good job again of mixing up the coverage with man coverage, as well as others, dropping into passing lanes. Yasir Abdullah drops into underneath coverage to the short side of the field while one of the inside linebackers drops into zone on the backside of the play.
This is an area they just have to improve on. This is “drop eight” coverage which is meant to keep things in front of you and in this specific instance, it’s meant to keep the ball in front of the first down line. You can see that as soon as the camera pans to the right, every UoL defender is behind the yellow line. You have to have guys either right on the hip of the receiver here or in front of them to force a harder throw.
Momo Sanogo and Monty Montgomery aren’t the best in coverage and I think it will be interesting to see if they look to change some personnel in these situations when they want to play this coverage so that they can get some guys on the field who may be better in coverage.
I’ll say it again that I really thought Malik looked good on Saturday and it was in part because Scott Satterfield called plays like this. They get into a good distance-to-go situation and instead of running the ball like they are known to do, they call this easy out route for Ahmari Huggins-Bruce and it gives Malik a safe throw that is a layup every time.
It feels like they’ve settled into a passing attack that looks like what I expected the 2021 passing game to look like. More stop routes and quick outs. A focus on easy throws that can be an extension of your running game. Instead of running the ball to open the passing game, it feels reversed.
Lance Taylor called out this play in the press conference this week and I found it very interesting that he did so. This is a very good play by Wake’s top corner but Taylor talked about Tyler Hudson needing to create separation and he’s not wrong. UofL is going to see some top-flight corners for the rest of the year and the receivers have to be able to get open on these long yardage plays where everyone knows you’re trying to get to the sticks. Is it a better route? A more physical route? The answer is somewhere and I think Taylor has to find it. The coverage will continue to be tight like this with no deep threat.
Bryan Brown dialed up so many different types of pressures that it was hard to keep up with everything. One thing that was a constant was Wake’s running backs being tasked with picking up the rusher from the wide side. Here, Tre Clark comes on a “corner cat” out of the bunch look from Wake and he just beats the back to the spot and bends around to get to Hartman.
As usual, there are so many other things to look for on this play. UofL only rushes four guys on this play that ends in a sack. Clark is coming off of the slot but two other players drop into coverage. Yasir Abdullah takes the receiver in motion and picks him up at the snap. But Dez Tell is also dropping into a short zone with Momo replacing him. This is similar to the play that led to Jalen Alderman’s pick-six against UCF last year. A completely different look than we saw for most of the game.
This was the longest play of the game for Wake Forest but it was a very nice play for Louisville, in context. The Cards have been giving up too many big plays this year and some of them have just been guys getting beat in single coverage. Not only do we see Quincey Riley play tight coverage here and play the football but we also see Josh Minkins right there in support.
Louisville rushes five guys here. They have a spy/robber dropped down into the box after the snap. Yet, they still have a corner right where he should be to make a play on the ball 35+ yards down the field with a safety closing in on the ball. This is how they’ve improved with stopping the big plays.