We are about thirty-six hours removed from the tough loss on Saturday and I wanted to wait until I was able to watch the game again, as well as get as much emotion out of my system as possible, before posting some thoughts on the entire game. I still have no problem whatsoever with Charlie Strong’s decision.
As I said after the game, they only had to get an inch or two. If the offense cannot move the football that far with the game on the line, as Strong said after the game, they do not deserve to win. Again, absolutely no issue with the call to go get the first down.
However, I do have a problem with some of the playcalling, particularly in the second half.
For the record, I think Mike Sanford has done a pretty good job this year. While I think he tends to use the WildCard formation in questionable spots, I feel his first year as a playcaller at UofL has been pretty darn good. On Saturday though, I don’t think it was his best game.
I did not care for the choice to essentially not let Justin Burke throw the ball in the 2nd half. Looking at the official box score, Burke attempted only six passes in the 3rd quarter, five in the 4th, and none in overtime. I realize Burke is not Brian Brohm and you definitely don’t want him making a critical turnover, but you have to let him throw it.
During his time replacing Adam Froman, Justin has completed 53% of his passes and thrown 5 touchdown passes to only 1 interception on a deflected pass. He is also great at play-action, which was working on Saturday. In terms of specific playcalls, the play on third down in overtime bothers me the most.
The Cards only needed about two yards to get a first down. The way the entire 2nd half unfolded, it was obvious in critical situations, specifically in short yardage, they were running the ball. South Florida was loading guys in the box to try and stop it. In that situation, I really feel play-action was a better call.
Another thing that disappointed me was yet more issues getting the plays in on time. There were several occasions late in the game when the Cards were huddled and literally waiting on their coaches to signal the plays. The one instance that stands out was when the Cards had to use their first timeout because there were 14 seconds left on the playclock and Burke had not received the play.
Anyone who reads this site knows I love this coaching staff, but this issue has been there the entire season and must get cleaned up. Occasional miscommunications happen, but this is continual. It has not resulted in a killer penalty or use of a timeout, yet. Let’s hope it doesn’t.
On the positive side, you have to like how the defense played. Outside of two plays, they handled South Florida’s offense. This defense appears to have a better grasp of the system as a whole. Earlier in the season it looked like they were thinking, instead of reacting and playing. That has now flipped and they are playing fast and aggressive.
Also, great to see Bilal Powell return. Even though he still didn’t look quite 100%, at least to me, he did was run for 130 yards. The kid is special and with only one home game left in his career, you hope he can go out with a bang on Senior Day. More on that game this week.
Finally, there has been a minor commotion in Louisville football circles involving a tweet from running back Victor Anderson. Vic did not see a lot of action on Saturday, despite being available, and he tweeted this:
“Thinking about giving fball up. I wanna get into coaching either soccer or football. Decisions decisions to make…”
Personally, I don’t put that much stock into it, at least right now. Vic is known to have a bunch of interests besides football and I think he was just throwing out some assorted thoughts. Again, this could change, but as of now, I wouldn’t worry about it.
This Saturday is Senior Day, not to mention a huge game against West Virginia as the Cards look to secure that important sixth win. We’ll start out coverage of that around Thursday.