Here’s some numbers for you.
Louisville has faced three Division I opponents in 2014. The 34 points that the Cardinals scored against Florida International was the fewest they’ve given up against any power conference opponent they’ve faced. It’s the same story for the 24 points that Louisville put up against Virginia, even the 31 points that they scored against Miami.
This probably isn’t the way Petrino thought things would begin. A different approach, I suppose.
He didn’t see this coming from his defense. The secondary that lost two staples in Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith, it was supposed to be the biggest cause for concern, right? That’s been far from the case. Todd Grantham, the guy the Cards stole for 1 million dollars from Georgia, the same guy Georgia fans we’re happy to see go? He’s got the Cardinals in nearly the Top Ten of each statistical defensive category. He’s got the Louisville football team leading on their defense rather than the potent Petrino attack we spent all summer speaking about.
In last two games, we’ve seen an offense that has remained in a stalemate with themselves. The majority of the things that have held them back have been self-inflicted wounds. It’s been an array of different things. The offensive line failing to communicate or failing to recognize adjustments and not giving their QB proper protection. The QB fumbling the ball in critical points, greatly contributing to Louisville dubious distinction of having the third most turnovers in college football. Often it’s been rough but it’s at least been a variety of hardships.
“A guy makes a mistake on one play, another makes it on another, we miss a block on a third play, we don’t read it right on the fourth play,” Bobby Petrino explained. “I remember back when I was a young coach, I was telling my dad about that and he said, ‘Yeah, that’s when you’re not really very good.’ That’s how I feel. We’re not very good right now, not where I want to be on offense. We have to get all 11 guys to do their job right every single play for us to be able to go execute and do things the way we want to do them.”
Our scrutiny of the Louisville offense may not be exactly fair. The Cardinals lost their most dynamic playmaker in DeVante Parker a week before the season begin. His effects continued to be felt as Louisville looks for a dynamic downfield threat (though James Quick and his 175 yard receiving yard performance may have been a sign of that changing last week). Things may even get more understandable if Sophomore QB Will Gardner is forced to be sidelined against Wake Forest, forcing Freshmen Reggie Bonnafon to make the start. His status is still unknown.
But the reality is this: Even with DeVante Parker down, even with perhaps Will Gardner down, the Louisville offense still possesses enough talent on offense to look like a Bobby Petrino offense. We’re talking about the guy that had Western Kentucky scoring over 34 points in three of its last four games last season. Surely solving the task of what ills the Louisville offense would be an easier riddle.
Hello Wake Forest, it’s time for Louisville to show something new. An offense that has been improved and one that shows explosive plays. The one that Bobby Petrino is capable of producing.
“I expect us to be as fired up as we’ve been because we’re back in front of our home crowd,” Offensive Coordinator Garrick McGee said. “All the upperclassmen especially have a sense of urgency and a lot of pride in this program and we’re excited to be back playing in front of our home crowd.”
Think of Wake Forest as a poor man’s Virginia. Their offense? It isn’t exactly capable of doing much, it ranks in the bottom third of College Football in points scored, rushing yards and passing yards. Their defense? It may be decent, it’s hard to tell. It ranks 33rd in points scored but it’s yet to face a team that presents much of task.
The only thing I need to know about Wake Forest is the number 36. That’s the number of points that Wake Forest gave up to Utah State. That’s the same Utah State that scored 7 points against Tennessee and needed overtime to score 14 against Arkansas State. Simply put Louisville is good as or better than Tennessee and they’re certainly more talented than Arkansas State. If Louisville is to become what we thought they would in 2014, the chance to show it is now.
Louisville can be a team that relies on defense and they’ll be just fine with that. Ask Charlie Strong. However, you have to feel like at this point the Louisville team still has plenty of room to reach full potential.
This may come off as prompt, rash, perhaps even dramatic but this is the life in the ACC. At least it’s the one presented for Louisville. Match-ups with Clemson, Florida State and all the big boys in between are looming. The hour glass is ticking. It’s time for Louisville to show improvement, they don’t have much time left to wait. It starts with Wake Forest.
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