Coach Charlie Strong Has His Work Cut Out For Him In This Bye Week


Heading into the bye week, where exactly do these Cardinals stand in college football?  First things first, this young Cardinal football team is 5-0, and is currently ranked #19 in the most recent AP poll, and #16 in the most recent ESPN Coaches poll.  For the 2012 season, they are ranked 67th in average passing yards with 229.8 yrds per game, 59th in average rushing yards with 169.2 per game, 48th in points for at 31 pts. per game, and 31st in points against with 18.6 pts. per game.  For a team with only 9 Seniors, I would say these numbers aren’t very bad at all.

Sept 22 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong stands on the sideline during the first quarter against the Florida International Golden Panthers at FIU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE

With wins coming over arch rival Kentucky, Missouri State, North Carolina, Florida International, and Southern Miss on the road, these Cardinals have been tested.  They have been able to make plays with their backs against the wall and the game on the line, which they weren’t able to do a year ago.  The Big East schedule will hold the answers to how far this team has come though.  With a Friday night game against Cincinnati, and a tough road game at Rutgers to end the year, the Cardinals will most likely face 2 top 25 ranked teams the rest of the season.

Louisville’s special team play definitely needs some work.  However, the problems are definitely ones that can be fixed.  We need to learn how far the punter lines up from the line of scrimmage.  This can lead to blocked punts!  When you are back to catch a punt you have to be aware of your surroundings.  If you have defenders coming unblocked at you, you still have to keep your eyes on the ball until you have possession.  When you don’t, you tend to drop the punt and loose possession.  When you are returning kicks, you have to maintain control of the ball until the play is whistled dead.  If not, you can fumble the ball and give possession back to the other teams offense, letting them have a chance to pull off a win.  And lastly, you have to tackle the return man!  Like I said, it’s all problems that we can fix with hard work and practice.

The Defense is starting to come into its own.  The past few seasons we have saw the defense play hard from day one, while the offense catches up through out the season.  This time its the other way around.  After some poor play in second half’s on games, the defense had been able to make stands when needed to put games away.  This young defense will start to come around with more game experience, and we will be right back to where we have been in the past.  If the players want to continue their success, they have GOT TO TACKLE!  After allowing Southern Miss 176 yrds in the first half of that, the defense decided it was going to quit playing Marco Polo, though it was an appropriate game for the swimming pool, and they held the Golden Eagles to only 73 second half yards by simply tackling the ball carrier.

Offensively, other that the monsoons we’ve played in the last two weeks, we’ve played OK.  At times we looked like one of the better offenses in the nation, like the first half against UNC, but we’ve not been able to play a complete game.    Teddy Bridgewater had completed 100 of 137 passes (73%), for 1134 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions.  Senorise Perry leads the rushing attack with 458 yards on 84 carries and 5 touchdowns.  To complement him, Jeremy Wright has 389 yards on 86 carries, and 5 touchdowns.    Wide receiver Andrell Smith leads the receiving corp with 14 receptions for 189 yards and 1 touchdown.  Though his numbers aren’t outstanding, you have to figure in the fact that Bridgewater had completed passes to 12 different Cardinal receivers.

If the Cardinals use this bye week to get healthy from their bumps and bruises, sure up the tackling, and get the offense to play like they can for a whole 60 minutes, the Cardinals have nothing to worry about.  Strong conference play can easily lead to their second BCS bowl.