Louisville Football has had some really impressive statistical marks over the past 9-14 seasons.  The Cards have also have had some dramatic differences in its final record as well from the 1st Petrino era, to Steve Kragthorpe, to the beginning of Charlie Strong….and the end of Charlie Strong and eventually now the 1st three seasons of Bobby Petrino.  It’s interesting to see where the 2016 offense ranked over the past seasons and then how some trends really affected the overall results of those seasons.

What we’ve done here is compile what we can for individual years in terms of performance & ranking nationally and then we sorted it in order of performance.

Team

2016 was the 3rd best scoring offense in the past 14 seasons at 42.5 ppg and 6th in the country.  That’s a 13.8 point per game correction from 2015’s offense that was the worst Petrino Scoring Offense by 2.5 points.  This shouldn’t be surprising given the relative youth in Louisville’s offense in 2015 and what they returned in 2016.

Personally I’ve drawn a lot of correlations to what happened with Louisville Football’s Youth Movement in 2011 and how that affected things the next two seasons in 2012 & 2013 and how Cardinal Football might see similar results from the 2015 youth movement for 2016 & 2017.  The Cards went from scoring 21.9 ppg in 2011 to scoring 31.2 ppg in 2012, which was a 9.3 ppg jump…. as mentioned before 2015 to 2016 actually jumped even more by 13.8 ppg!   Additionally Louisville was able to grow its scoring output the very next year in 2013 following the Sugar Bowl win by 4 points per game…. can UofL have a similar bump in 2017?

2011 – 21.9 ppg       2012- 31.2 ppg        2013- 35.2 ppg

2015- 28.7 ppg       2016- 42.5 ppg        2017- ???

Scoring Offense
1 49.8, 1st (2004 Petrino)
2 43.4, 3rd (2005 Petrino)
3 42.5, 6th (2016 Petrino)
4 37.8, 3rd (2006) Petrino)
5 35.2, 11th (2003 Petrino)
5 35.2, 25th (2013 Strong)
7 31.7, 36th (2007 Krag)
8 31.2, 50th (2012 Strong)
8 31.2, 53rd (2014 Petrino)
10 28.7, 65th (2015 Petrino)
11 26.4, 63rd (2010 Strong)
12 24.7, 66th (2008 Krag)
13 21.9, 98th (2011 Strong)
14 18.1, 111th (’09 Krag)

Again if you look at the progress from a youthful 2011 to 2012 to 2013 there is a reason for MAJOR optimism for 2017 as the youth movement from 2015 to 2016 saw a more pronounced correlation.  2011 was the worst offense dating back to 2003 (which is as far back as we are going here) and the progress from 2011 to 2012 was an a fantastic 83.1 yards per game and 2012 to 2013 grew by a more modest 42 yards per game.  The 2015 to 2016 yardage per game was EVEN MORE ASTOUNDING as UofL added 116.6 more yards per game than it had a year earlier.

Can UofL add 40-50 yards to what the Cards gained in 2016?  If they do it will be by far and away the best offense in school history.

A great deal of Louisville’s 2016 yardage came on its ability to produce REALLY long plays and many of UofL’s games ended with huge yardage totals.  If UofL can limit its turnovers (more on that later) UofL could easily add more yardage (and points).

2011- 333.0 ypg        2012- 418.8 ypg      2013 – 460.8 ypg

2015- 416.1 ypg         2016- 532.7 ypg      2017- ???

Total Offense
1 539.0, 1st (2004 Petrino)
2 532.7, 3rd (2016 Petrino)
3 488.6, 5th (2003 Petrino)
4 482.1, 8th (2005 Petrino)
5 475.0, 2nd (2006 Petrino)
6 472.8, 8th (2007 Krag)
7 460.8, 28th (2013 Strong)
8 418.8, 51st (2012 Strong)
9 416.1, 54th (2015 Petrino)
10 394.7, 72nd (2014 Petrino)
11 376.7, 45th (2008 Krag)
12 369.0, 71st (2010 Strong)
13 334.1, 91st (2009 Krag)
14 333.0, 103rd (2011 Strong)

Time of Possession was a bit of problem for the Cards in 2016, but it happened because UofL scored so fast and so often… and because they turned the ball over so much.  I fully expect for the Cards to move the Time of Possession into its favor this coming season.

Time of Possession
1 33:49.31, 2nd (2013 Strong)
2 32:58.08, 6th (2012 Strong)
3 32:31.62, 15th (2014 Petrino)
4 32:03.00, 23rd (2005 Petrino)
5 31:58.15, 20th (2011 Strong)
6 31:37.00, 16th (2007 Krag)
7 31:35.5, 21st (2008 Krag)
8 31:00.77, 31st (2010 Strong)
9 30:51.00, 34th (2006 Petrino)
10 29:35.00, 67th (2004 Petrino)
11 29:28.77, 72nd (2015 Petrino)
12 29:19.33, 79th (2009 Krag)
13 28:46.77, 88th (2016 Petrino)
14 28:09.00, 98th (2003 Petrino)

2016 saw the Cards gain more 1st downs per game than any other team.  That’s surprising considering how fast UofL scored, the average time of possession, and how often they turned the ball over.  Louisville could move the chains last year.  Let’s hope it continues.

1st Downs
1 25.0, 11th (2016 Petrino)
2 23.4, 32nd (2013 Strong)
3 22.8, 35th (2012 Strong)
4 20.9, 59th (2015 Petrino)
5 20.4, 77th (2014 Petrino)
6 20.3, 43rd (2008 Krag)
7 18.8, 72nd (2010 Strong)
8 17.8, 89th (2009 Krag)
9 16.5, 107th (2011 Strong)

An 82.89% Red Zone Conversion rate isn’t great… and UofL still managed to score 42.5 points per game.  If UofL improves this….. WATCH OUT.  The Cards really need to move this percentage north of 87% in 2017 if they hope to make the noise they are hoping for.

Red Zone %
1 92.98%, 5th (2012 Strong)
2 92.31%, 3rd (2006 Petrino)
3 88.24%, 18th (2007 Krag)
4 88.06%, 21st (2005 Petrino)
5 86.21%, 40th (2013 Strong)
6 84.21%, 38th (2003 Petrino)
7 83.78%, 50th (2011 Strong)
8 82.89%, 74th (2016 Petrino)
9 82.76%, 68th (2014 Petrino)
10 82.76%, 78th (2015 Petrino)
11 80.95%, 70th (2010 Strong)
12 80.00%, NA (2004 Petrino)
13 76.74%, 91st (2009 Krag)
14 71.43%, 109th (2008 Krag)

UofL may have moved the ball for a lot of yards and even had quite a few 1st downs, but the Cards were just OK on 3rd down.  Lamar Jackson as a junior and with the ability to run every formation & play-action should be enough to really boost this figure 3-4 percentage points.  While that may seem small, it’s probably the difference in the Clemson & Kentucky games.

3rd Down %
1 56.00%, 2nd (2013 Strong)
2 49.73%, 8th (2012 Strong)
3 47.97%, 9th (2005 Petrino)
4 46.46%, 15th (2004 Petrino)
5 45.96%, 16th (2006 Petrino)
6 43.04%, 31st (2007 Krag)
7 41.11%, 60th (2016 Petrino)
8 40.54%, 41st (2003 Petrino)
9 39.89%, 60th (2010 Strong)
10 39.36%, 75th (2011 Strong)
11 39.20%, 76th (2014 Petrino)
12 38.12%, 78th (2015 Petrino)
13 37.85%, 72nd (2008 Krag)
14 36.84%, 81st (2009 Krag)

Personally I don’t take a lot of stock in the Cards 4th Down %.  Bobby Petrino is much more aggressive with his play calls on 4th down based on field position and it’s rarely a desperate move but UofL was really good in 2016 on 4th down.

4th Down %
1 69.23%, 11th (2012 Strong)
2 68.75%, 6th (2016 Petrino)
2 66.67%, 15th (2004 Petrino)
4 66.67%, 9th (2006 Petrino)
5 61.90%, 23rd (2003 Petrino)
6 53.85%, 51st (2010 Strong)
7 52.94%, 49th (2007 Krag)
8 52.38%, 54th (2014 Petrino)
9 46.67%, 81st (2015 Petrino)
10 45.83%, 67th (2008 Krag)
11 42.86%, 82nd (2005 Petrino)
12 41.18%, 98th (2011 Strong)
13 40.00%, 85th (2009 Krag)
14 33.33%, 110th (2013 Strong)

121st in penalties in a college football world with 128 teams isn’t good.  Clearly this isn’t entirely an offensive stat, but Louisville needs to eliminate the pre-snap penalties that plagued the team.  Illegal Formation, False Starts, Snap Infractions, Delay of Games….all of that needs to get better for UofL Football.

Penalties
1 44.8, 44th (2006 Petrino)
2 49.3, 50th (2014 Petrino)
3 51.9, 52nd (2004 Petrino)
4 54.1, 73rd (2012 Strong)
5 56.5, 83rd (2011 Strong)
6 56.8, 83rd (2008 Krag)
7 57.6, 81st (2009 Krag)
8 61.2, 74th (2003 Petrino)
9 62.6, 95th (2015 Petrino)
10 63.8, 105th (2010 Strong)
11 64.3, 113th (2013 Strong)
12 66.8, 108th (2008 Krag)
13 68.0, 97th (2005 Petrino)
14 70.7, 121st (2016 Petrino)

A negative turnover margin in a game or season usually spells doom. For the Cards Louisville made a lot of mistakes in the games it lost and as a result were -7 on the season.  Louisville was 56th in Interceptions Lost and 128th (last) in Fumbles Lost as well.  The lost fumbles were the most in college football since 2012…..  An offense just can’t afford to be worst team in fumbles lost over a period of 5 years.   Only 4 teams in college football gave up the ball more often than UofL in 2016.  Amazingly though, the Cards won 9 games….

Turnover Margin
1 +17, 2nd (2013 Strong)
2 +11, 18th (2012 Strong)
3 +4, 44th (2014 Petrino)
4 +3, 42nd (2010 Strong)
5 -1, 66th (2011 Strong)
6 -1, 74th (2015 Petrino)
7 -3, 75th (2009 Krag)
8 -7, 107th (2016 Petrino)
9 -12, 111th (2008 Krag)

Passing

Louisville (Lamar Jackson) put together the 5th best passing per game performance over the past 14 years with 290.5 yards per game…..and actually more yardage passing per game than the 2006 Orange Bowl team.

Fans should expect an expansion of the passing game in 2016, as Lamar Jackson and Bobby Petrino continue to hone the Heisman winner’s passing skills, reading coverage, understanding reads, etc.

Passing Offense
1 337.2, 5th (2007 Krag)
2 314.0, 16th (2013 Strong)
3 296.1, 24th (2012 Strong)
4 293.6, 13th (2005 Petrino)
5 290.5, 23rd (2016 Petrino)
6 290.0, 7th (2006 Petrino)
7 288.6, 9th (2004 Petrino)
8 261.2, 28th (2003 Petrino)
9 252.0, 47th (2014 Petrino)
10 245.1, 46th (2015 Petrino)
11 212.2, 63rd (2008 Krag)
12 211.5, 74th (2011 Strong)
13 208.9, 71st (2009 Krag)
14 194.0, 79th (2010 Strong)

Only 4 teams allowed more sacks than Louisville did a year ago.  This can happen when you have a QB with tremendous confidence in his ability to scramble.  Lamar made a ton of plays with his legs in 2016, but he also didn’t balance that ability with just taking the 4-5 yard check down or even just throwing the ball away.  The offensive line isn’t without blame here either, but Louisville will return to 2017 with a lot of experience on the offensive line…. and a true freshman and a redshirt freshman.  The Cards will be better for it in 2016.

The combination of an offensive line that is a year better with a more seasoned Lamar Jackson with a play-action game.  Lamar Jackson is also not the type to change who he is and his scrambling will still sometimes negatively affect this stat…..but fans & coaches will be OK with it given his overall performance.  If UofL can move this stat to 2.5 sacks per game they are still in the bottom 25% of all teams in college football, but I do think Lamar is going to be more conscious with the check down and just playing the next play when nothing is there.

Sacks Allowed
1 0.8, 5th (2003 Petrino)
2 1.31, 25th (2010 Strong)
3 1.5, 28th (2006 Petrino)
4 1.58, 42nd (2008 Krag)
5 2.00, 61st (2013 Strong)
6 2.1, 57th (2004 Petrino)
7 2.1, 83rd (2005 Petrino)
8 2.3, 77th (2007 Krag)
9 2.31, 90th (2012 Strong)
10 3.00, 110th (2009 Krag)
11 3.08, 115th (2014 Petrino)
12 3.15, 112th (2011 Strong)
13 3.39, 124th (2015 Petrino)
14 3.62, 124th (2016 Petrino)

We discussed this in Turnover Margin some, and the Louisville Quarterbacks threw 5 fewer INTs in 2016 than they did in 2015.  Cutting a bad stat by 33% is really solid. But Lamar actually threw 8 INTs in 2015 and 9 in 2016….. but he did throw 162 more passes in 2016 than he did in 2015.

Interceptions Lost
1 4, 1st (2013 Strong)
2 8, 13th (2010 Strong)
2 8, 29th (2012 Strong)
4 10, 42nd (2014 Petrino)
4 10, 56th (2016 Petrino)
6 11, 45th (2009 Krag)
7 13, 75th (2011 Strong)
8 15, 104th (2015 Petrino)
9 17, 102nd (2008 Krag)

Rushing

The 1st two seasons of Petrino 2.0 are outliers from Petrino’s previous tenure at UofL… and the rushing totals for UofL in 2016 fell back in line with his previous tenure… but there’s a catch:  Lamar Jackson (QB) accounted for 49.9% of UofL’s rushing totals.

Petrino wants to run the football in a traditional way and he hasn’t been able to do that in the past three  seasons.  UofL football has to involve their running backs more in order to grow from last year’s total & to protect its dynamic quarterback.   242.15 yards per game IS AMAZING for UofL football, but Petrino would like to see more of this share go to his backs.  I think there will be a great deal of emphasis on traditionally running the football….and of course Lamar Jackson is going to continue to impact this area tremendously too.

Rushing Offense
1 250.4, 8th (2004 Petrino)
2 242.15, 13th (2016 Petrino)
3 227.4, 9th (2003 Petrino)
4 188.5, 28th (2005 Petrino)
5 185.3, 10th (2006 Petrino)
6 175.0, 33rd (2010 Strong)
7 171.0, 64th (2015 Petrino)
8 164.5. 46th (2008 Krag)
9 146.85, 87th (2013 Strong)
10 142.69, 95th (2014 Petrino)
11 135.6, 74th (2007 Krag)
12 125.17, 89th (2009 Krag)
13 122.69, 105th (2012 Strong)
14 121.54, 93rd (2011 Strong)

(More of a team stat, but I placed this in Rushing)

128th in Fumbles Lost.  Last place. The most by any team since 2012.  That can’t happen.  If Louisville Football wants to get better in 2017 this is an obvious area of improvement.  Fumbles killed UofL throughout the regular season and led directly to losses vs. Clemson & Kentucky and fumbles set the tone vs. Houston.

Ball security must take focus for Louisville.  The Cards are no longer a young offense and this is an area where maturity and experience can be quantified.  22 lost fumbles in a single year puts your defense in too many terrible positions…it’s time to take control of the football.

Fumbles Lost
1 5, 5th (2012 Strong)
2 6, 12th (2013 Strong)
3 8, 25th (2010 Strong)
4 9, 35th (2011 Strong)
5 9, 39th (2009 Krag)
6 12, 104th (2015 Petrino)
7 13, 88th (2008 Krag)
8 16, 123rd (2014 Petrino)
9 22, 128th (2016 Petrino)

Special Teams

The Cards hit just 76.0% of Field Goal Attempts in 2016.  It’s an acceptable figure.  Could have been better early, but it didn’t cost the Cards games.

This is Blanton Creque’s job and he’s getting tons of praise from Bobby Petrino this offseason.

Field Goals
1 87.5%, 15th (2005 Petrino)
2 84.0%, 15th (2006 Petrino)
3 80.0%, 39th (2013 Strong)
4 78.9%, 34th (2014 Petrino)
5 78.3%, 34th (2012 Strong)
6 77.8%, 47th (2010 Strong)
7 76.0%, 56th (2016 Petrino)
8 75.0%, 48th (2007 Krag)
9 72.2%, 57th (2009 Krag)
10 71.4%, 74th (2015 Petrino)
11 66.7%, 70th (2011 Strong)
12 45.5%, 118th (2008 Krag)

Kickoff Returns haven’t been great as of late.  Louisville can’t afford to be 70th in any special teams category.

Kickoff Returns
1 25.49, 10th (2010 Strong)
2 24.12, 18th (2009 Krag)
3 23.59, 28th (2011 Strong)
4 22.71, 42nd (2013 Strong)
5 21.06, 61st (2014 Petrino)
6 20.63, 70th (2016 Petrino)
7 20.16, 87th (2015 Petrino)
8 18.75, 112th (2008 Krag)
9 17.31, 122nd (2012 Strong)

Jaire Alexander was electric at times for UofL in punt returns.  It’s surprising that UofL was just 60th nationally in this stat given some of the big plays of 2016 were on punt return.  Jaire has a unique ability to make the first person miss and get up field.  Still this has to be better…. more consistent.

  Punt Returns
1 12.61, 18th (2010 Strong)
2 11.35, 33rd (2009 Krag)
3 8.88, 61st (2008 Krag)
4 8.12 60th (2016 Petrino)
5 7.63, 68th (2013 Strong)
6 7.41, 70th (2014 Petrino)
7 7.07, 81st (2015 Petrino)
8 4.95, 102nd (2011 Strong)
9 4.25, 111th (2012 Strong)
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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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