Cue the gif of Jon Snow unsheathing his sword at the attacking army. I have some ideas on how Louisville football can still be successful this year. That’s the good news. The bad news is that our definition of successful has changed since Thursday night’s 39-25 loss on the road to NC State.
This situation is so frustrating. Defensively, I’m seeing so many similarities to Kragthorpe’s first season as head coach. As the season goes on, it’s as if every strength the team fades away if the defense is poor. Here in 2017, ten years later, the defense is poor. Everybody now says 8-4, but I can see this thing slipping to 7-5 or 6-6 very easily. This just feels very Steve Kragthorpe 2007.
I’m not sure there’s much that can be done to fix it. Changing schemes halfway through the season isn’t the answer. It’s sloppy all over the field. Here are some questions I’d have for each coach on staff after Thursday night:
1) Defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon
* You get burned with senior Trumaine Washington and freshman Russ Yeast. Why not call it a rebuilding job and go with the freshman the rest of the year to prepare for the future?
* Tackling in the secondary was awful under Grantham. Why haven’t you improved it?
2) Offensive coordinator/receivers coach Lonnie Galloway
* Why do your receivers continually drop balls? Weren’t you retained even after accepting a playbook from another school? Do you not feel lucky to still have the job that you do?
3) Head Coach Bobby Petrino
* Whatever it is you do to prepare your teams for games, can you change it?
* We’ve seen good running backs go to the bench after fumbling the ball in goal line situations. What’s the difference between that and a receiver/tight end dropping a wide open pass or getting a false start on 3rd and short? Why no cut in playing time for those players?
*Do you even want to be here?
Some of these questions are very tongue in cheek and some I’m dead serious about. We’ve seen Dominique Brown and Jeremy Smith lose reps for fumbling. What’s the difference between those miscues and Micky Crum/Reggie Bonnafon dropping passes on 3rd down?
If any changes are to be made to the coaching staff after the season, Galloway should be the first name called out. He embarrassed the program with his involvement in the WakeyLeaks scandal last year. Now his receivers can’t haul in a simple ten yard pass on too many occasions.
Our fan base took Coach Petrino back after his exit in 2007. He was given a second chance at his career with arms wide open here at Louisville. Kirby Smart (who’s building Georgia into a juggernaut) could’ve easily been offered the job. The body language from Coach Petrino has been awful since this time last season. It reflects in his players too. Why does it seem like every other team has players getting the crowd involved and showing some level of enthusiasm? Coach Petrino, we took you back four years ago.
Once again, us Cards fans are being ripped off. I don’t care if we come up short. But at the very least have yourself and players looking as if they are proud to be playing for the University of Louisville. Pride is what you have to have before you overachieve. This program has been built on overachieving. I can’t believe it’s being run now as if it doesn’t have to achieve anything.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system we can look at some positives. Those positives are that this season can still be a success (means a/any bowl win and beating FSU or UK). I think Louisville can still make some adjustments for the first time since early 2016 and have a successful season. Here’s how:
It should be conceded by now that the defense isn’t going to win any games for Louisville like it did during the Charlie Strong Era or first year under Bobby 2.0. So what has to happen now is that Coach Petrino should run an offense that keeps the defense off the field as long as possible—even if the series is a three and out.
Lamar Jackson, Traveon Samuel, and Reggie Bonnafon can be effective in that type of offense. If Dae Williams makes a return this season, even better. You get the feeling that Coach Petrino is trying to win a shootout when flipping the script and going with a Duke or Georgia Tech strategy may be the answer. I’m good winning 20-13.
Hit the tight end out in the flat. Jordan Davis and Charles Standberry are as athletic a tight end there is in the ACC. Hit them out in the flat and watch them pick up first downs.
Blanton Creque can hit from 50. He’s now officially a weapon. Take the points.
Louisville’s toughest games are mostly behind them. Home games against Boston College, Virginia, and Syracuse are on the horizon. Virginia is 4-1 and have played Louisville tough every year they’ve played. The bottom hasn’t fallen out on Bobby 2.0. Losing at home to one of those three, a la Syracuse in 2007, and I think we see a fan base check out on Bobby the way they did on Kragthorpe. But being successful at any point the rest of the season does require adjustments…….unfortunately.
Think about this as well. If Louisville isn’t able to rally here in 2017, you have to wonder if Petrino comes into 2018 on the hot seat or even as a lame duck (think about the AD situation). The schedule for the post-Lamar era includes:
Coach Petrino has six games to keep this fan base faithful. Cards can still rally, but it requires a lot of what we haven’t seen in a while.