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October 25, 2012
CardinalSports.com is proud to partner with Louisville-fullback-turned-radio-commentator Joe Tronzo for analysis during the 2012 season. In this edition of Four Downs, Tronzo provides his thoughts on Louisville's showdown with Cincinnati Friday night.
QUICK NOTE: Friday's game against Cincinnati has been declared a WHITE-OUT by coach Charlie Strong. Fans are encouraged to wear white Friday night. T-shirts commemorating the event are available at the Cardinal Authentic store at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium for $12.
Fans can officially relax now that the defense has put some sacks on the stat sheet. Strong expressed the importance of not only pressuring BJ Daniels but not letting him escape the pocket when pressured. The Cardinal front seven did exactly that. Even when unable to get the QB to the ground, UL did not give him any lanes to escape into. USF was unable to play a defensive corralling game plan, which directly led to Teddy Bridgewater being UofL's leading rusher.
The Bull's defensive ends played upfield entirely too far, enabling Teddy to slide up into the pocket and easily escape. Lorenzo Mauldin deserves his Player of the Week award not only for the sacks and forced fumble, but his ability to get pressure to the QB when only rushing 3. On South Florida's final drive, Mauldin was able to get 2 QB knockdowns despite being double teamed on the interior line.
On the contrary, fans can officially be concerned regarding the UL defenses' ability to stop shotgun runs. I will be the first to give credit where credit is due, and USF was more physical than UL at the line of scrimmage. In addition, Lindsey Lamar was very patient and set up his blocks very well. But this play has been successful against the Cards by every team who has used it.
When Pittsburgh lined up in a two back set and ran downhill, UofL was able to stop them. However, when Pitt used their shotgun runs, they were able to move the ball. Whether this is a technique issue or scheme issue, it needs to be addressed. I am sure that Strong and his defensive staff teach the proper technique and have a great scheme, but something is missing between the practices and meetings to the execution on the field, and needs to be found.
For as bad as the Cardinal rushing attack was against USF, I have to point out the hogs upfront for their ability to pull and block up to the secondary level. On several plays I saw Mario Benavides pull from his center spot and get to safeties and weakside backers. Guards Jake Smith and John Miller have been doing a great job with their pulls all year.
The ability for interior lineman to pull and block secondary defenders gives the Cardinal running game an advantage on most other rushing schemes. The fruits of that advantage did not show themselves this week, but Cardinal fans should watch for this type of run action and gain an appreciation for the athleticism these big guys possess.
In circumstances, there is something to be said for a team who finds a way to win. Entering the season, under Strong UL was 4-9 in games decided by seven points or less. This season, they are 4-0 in such games. However, there is also something to be said for the old adage "if you play with fire, you will eventually get burned." The goal line stand and game winning touchdown drive were no doubt great signs of a maturing team who will fight till the end and flat out compete and all Cardinal fans should be proud of a team with that attitude.
From what I have seen at their best, there is no team in the Big East that can match the Cards talent wise. That being said, every team remaining on the schedule can absolutely take it to UL and drop an L on the unbeaten record, just ask Cincinnati about that one.
UofL will need to put together two halves of quality execution every game from here out to stay unbeaten, or a team who does put together a whole game will spoil a Big East championship.
Joe Tronzo is the co-owner of Louisville Sports Performance Institute, a business focused on the athletic development of athletes of all ages and ability levels. Located in the Mid-America Sports Center in J-Town, LSPI works to improve speed, agility, strength, and power in a more personalized atmosphere than most training facilities. Each athlete, group, or team has different needs. Through individual and methodical programming, every athlete gets the program that will best contour to the athletic development of the individual, group, or team. Want more information about Joe's training? Click here to email Joe today!