Sep 21, 2013; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong talks with defensive tackle Roy Philon (93) during the second quarter of play against the FIU Golden Panthers at Papa John

Cardinal Football Phase One "Card" Report: No 4.0

See what I did there with the “Card” Report, switch the report and card with emphasis… (groan).  Well anywho, its time to take a very critical look at the University of Louisville Football program as they end, as Charlie Strong called it, “Phase One” of the season.  Phase One was the non-conference portion of the schedule, Phase Two is the beginning of the AAC conference schedule.  I’m going to  break this Card Report down into 7 areas,  3 of which will be graded on the A – F scale.  The areas are:

Wins and Losses

Statistics

Team Play

Schedule

Bowl Predictions

National Championship

Miscellaneous

 

Wins and Losses

The Cardinals are 4-0.  Any member of Card Nation should be thrilled with that result, however there are some that still apprehensive.  Reasons to be excited: This is Charlie Strong’s 4th season!!!  We are only 3 1/2 years removed from 2009 in which Steve Kragthorpe was the coach and the team finished a UK like performance of 6-6.  Actually the Ca’uts fans would be ECSTATIC with a 6-6 season.  We haven’t lost and I don’t believe we will.  Grade: A+

Statistics

Statistically speaking, that is of course just looking at performance data alone, I rank the Cards at #12 in the country.  We are 3rd in overall Defense and  18th in total offense but our special teams are not so great.  We have allowed far too many return yards per game, giving less than stellar offensive teams good field position.  In this category we don’t even rank in the top 50.  The key statistic I look at is Turnover Margin.  How many to we take vs. how many we give.  We rank 13th with 7 takeaways, 4 fumbles and 3 interceptions.  We have only given the ball up twice, one interception and one fumble.  If you control the ball you control the game.  STANDOUT STAT: Back-up Quarterback Will Gardner has thrown 2 touchdown passes and Michael Dyer has ran for 2!!! Grade: B+ (without the Gardner and Dyer stats I may have scored us a scosche lower)

Team Play

Offense: The offensive line still has a few things to figure out.  Our rushing game needs a lot of improvement.  Bridgewater has not passed well when hurried.  We have scored a lot of points and our passing offense is amazing.  Grade A-

Defense: As stated above, our defense is ranked 3rd to this point in the season.  In my first article for BigRedLouie “You Can’t Spell Undefeated Without The D”, I shared that last year the Cardinals were ranked 69th in total defense. THAT’S A HUGE IMPROVEMENT!!! Without this stellar defensive contribution we would not be holding our national ranking to this point.  My only critique would be that we gave up to much against an inexperienced UK team which has me somewhat concerned when we face some of our Phase 2 opponents. Grade: A

Special Teams: Said it earlier, we are giving up to much on kickoff defense and not getting enough down field in return offense.  Both areas must improve.  Grade: C

Overall Team Play Grade: B+

Schedule

Its really not fair to grade us here because its something the players cant control but it is not helping us to this point.  That being said there is some light at the end of the tunnel. UConn game Michigan all they could handle, Rutgers beat Arkansas and Central Florida defeated Penn St.  UCF faces South Carolina on Saturday.  I believe our conference may be very underrated and while they may be our foes, they’re success is intertwined with ours. We are going to have to play our best ball to beat these teams.  

Bowl Predictions

If we go undefeated, I believe it will be the Fiesta Bowl or Orange Bowl.  One loss would put us back in the Sugar or worse, the “Chick who gives a fil” Bowl.  Personally I’d like to see the Sugar surpass the Orange in its significance, New Orleans just knows how to get it done and the trophy looks better!  That being said, 2 losses could land us in the Outback Bowl or Capital One Bowl.  Both are respectable but would be a disappointment.  

National Championship

Anyone who follows me on Twitter (@jondhile) knows I am big on motivational quotes.  Here is my thought on our National Championship chances, “Something is impossible until  someone does it.”  Louisville can make that trip to Pasadena but it wont be under our own steam alone, we will need some help.  We need the top to fall and the bottom all the while we have to destroy our opponents.   It is possible!

Miscellaneous 

Teddy Bridgewater is currently 3 on most Heisman prediction boards and will have to use Phase 2 as his official “unofficial” Heisman campaign.  He needs to do more.  The question is does Teddy want the Heisman.  Its tough to gauge but I do believe he wants to be the best football player in the country but the Heisman is not what he is playing for.  Charlie Strong Watch is officially on again with speculations that he could be courted by both Texas and Florida.  I want to stand by Charlie here and believe all that he’s said about being at Louisville combined with  the very real prospect of being in the National Championship conversation again next year as a member of the ACC.

GO CARDS!!! BEAT TEMPLE!!!

Phase 1 Final Grade: A -

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Tags: Cards Charlie Strong Defense Football Louisville Cardinals Louisville Cardinals Football Louisville Football Michael Dyer Offense Report Card Statistics Teddy Bridgewater Undefeated UofL Will Gardner

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