Field position on special teams
We’ve now talked about two different offensive areas that must be improved in order for Louisville football to bounce back this week against Georgia Tech so for our third and final area let’s look at special teams.
Before we get into the dirty details let me preface it by saying, you can’t blame the offense for Louisville for all of the struggles they’ve experienced this season. What I wrote before still stands about big plays and just how slow the offense has been thus far when it comes to moving the ball down the field in big chunks; at least compared to what we saw down the back half of the schedule last season.
However, when you take a deeper dive into the field position statistics for the Cards, specifically when talking about receiving the ball via punt, it’s not a pretty sight and it gives some context to the offensive struggles.
So far in 2020, Louisville football has fielded a total of 12 punts with returner Rodjay Burns able to return just two of those for 14 yards (the rest either were fair caught or were touch backs). That’s not super uncommon these days, but at the same time the Cards have gotten the ball out past the 30 yard line just twice all season long.
Against WKU they started drives at their own 11, 12, 13, 25, and 35 yard lines. Against Miami they started at their own 15, 20, anld 30 yard lines and then on the 12, 17, 25, and 26 yard lines against Pittsburgh.
To start drives out that close to your own end zone on so many different occasions hampers the ability of Louisville football’s playcaller Scott Satterfield and what he is able to do without much room for error. We’ve seen a lot of lackluster running plays called and a variety of short pass attempts when Louisville’s been in those positions, and more times than not it’s led to punts or turnovers.
In fact, Louisville has had just two drives end in a touchdown (out of 12 total) that followed a forced punt by their defense. The others have ended in either field goal’s or turnovers. That’s NOT a good stat.
Conversely the punt team has been fairly equal in their inadequacy, as punter Logan Lupo currently is averaging just 35.7 yards per punt (13 total punts), giving up major field position flips, while he’s had one punt blocked and another slip through his hands for a fumble.
Scott Satterfield was asked about his specialists and how they’ve performed thus far and he kept it simple, saying:
"“It’s not been good. You have to be able to flip the field.”"
Louisville will look to use the Georgia Tech game as a barometer for how much they’ve improved since the loss to Pittsburgh and quite frankly, it’s something they have to figure out. Field position has been an issue all season long and it’s clearly impacted not only the offense but also the defense.
If they can’t get things going in a positive direction against a wildly inconsistent Georgia Tech team, then once again I think it will be fair to start wondering whether issues will be fixable in the short-term.