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 game against Pittsburgh.
With roughly the first half of the season over the Cards are exactly where they want to be, 5-0. Have the games been pretty? No. Have the Cards shown the dominance for an entire game that fans would like to have seen? No.
But the fact remains that UL the highest ranked team in the Big East, and despite lackluster performances, have found a way to win ball games. The bye week was perfectly situated and provided a clear separation between the "preseason" and to the games that truly count towards their BCS goals.
Through the first five games, the entire defense has something to work on. In the front seven, because of offensive strategies, the defense has not been able to pressure and blitz like we are accustom to seeing. I believe these pressures will come with the changes in offensive scheme. But the biggest aim for improvement up front is the lack of ability to get off blocks.
At times the front seven have looked to get "gobbled" up by inferior offensive lines and running attacks. This is something that must be improved upon when going against better offenses with better lineman and running backs. In the secondary, open field tackling has really proved difficult.
The only reason offenses have been successful with their quick passing game has been their receivers' ability to make the initial Cardinal defender miss, and turn a 3 yard pass into a 10 yard gain. Surer tackling will force offense to take a more drop back approach and enable the Cardinal pressure package to be implemented.
Offensively, I am completely negating their season low 269 yards against USM as that was the worst possible conditions to play in. OC Shawn Watson is looking for one thing from his offense; consistency. On some drives, they look unstoppable while on others they look like an offense in search of identity. We have all been impressed with Teddy Bridgewater's performance this year, but this offense has been successful because of the running game. The line has not been the physically dominant line as to what I expected, however their mobility has enabled them to pull and make crucial outside the box blocks that take a gash and turn it into a touchdown. Watson has done a great job of running the same successful base runs out of multiple formations and motions, not letting the defense zero in on a particular run, even with run personnel in the game.
Pittsburgh is riding a 4 game series winning streak going into Saturdays' matchup. In addition, the worst team to play is the one who has nothing to lose. With the Panthers already 0-2 in Big East play, desperate times call for desperate measures and the Cards need to be on upset alert.
There is no doubt in my mind that if UL comes in and plays up to their potential that they will win this game. Pittsburgh has very good players on their roster. QB Tino Sunseri leads the Big East and is 11th nationally in pass efficiency. Two of their receivers, Shanahan and Street, rank in the top 15 in school history in receiving yards. In the backfield, RB Ray Graham ranks 3rd in school history in all-purpose yards and true freshman RB Rushel Shell put 157 yards on Virginia Tech.
A fast start will be crucial against a struggling team at home with an early kickoff. The road to a BCS bowl lies in the control of one team, and that team faces a tough test this Saturday.
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!
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