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Tronzo: Four Downs on Beating Kentucky

CardinalSports.com is proud to partner with Louisville-fullback-turned-radio-commentator Joe Tronzo for analysis during the 2012 season. In this second edition of Four Downs, Tronzo provides his thoughts on Louisville's big win over archrival Kentucky
With two rushers going for over 100 yards, the offensive line deserves high praise with the execution of the game plan put together by offensive line coach Dave Borbely. The line is primarily responsible for getting the rusher through the point of attack, but long runs come from "touchdown" blocks made on the perimeter by the wide receivers. Ron Dugans will be very pleased by the perimeter blocking by his players. Two receivers that caught my eye were seniors Andrell Smith and Scott Radcliff. These blocks are not something that you will find on a stat sheet, but Wright and Perry's stat sheet would not look as impressive without them.
Quite possibly the biggest concern coming into the game was the inconsistency of rookie kickers and punters during camp. With roughly a 48 yard punt average and converting on all PATs and a field goal, Coach Strong said in his press conference that he was pleased with the performance and will continue forward with Josh Appleby as the punter and John Wallace as the kicker.
With those positions now defined, the kickoff coverage team will be the unit under the most scrutiny by special teams coordinator Kenny Carter. Kentucky averaged 30 yards per kick return. Excluding teams with only one kickoff return attempt this weekend, Kentucky would be tied for 6th best in the country in kickoff returns. Another new rule this year will limit the kickoff team's ability to get a running start by forcing them to lineup within 5 yards of the ball. UofL tried to manipulate this rule by lining up outside the numbers and get a longer running start. This could be a very effective strategy, but the timing needs to be better as some coverage players were still 3 yards behind the ball when it was kicked.
Though the Wildcats were outrushed 219-93 in this game, they averaged 4.9 yards per attempt, surprisingly 0.1 yards higher than UofL averaged. This statistic will not please D-Line coach Clint Hurtt. Excluding the two sacks, the UK rushing attack did not have an attempt stopped for negative yardage. In addition, when zone runs correlated with a UofL blitz from the slot position, the UK back was able slip under the UofL defender before he filled his run gap responsibility.
Many zone reads that were cutback by UK ball carriers were successful because the blitzer angled too far up field and did not close the running lane close enough to the offensive tackles' outside hip. This is a quick fix in the film room that can pay huge dividends in run defense.
Going forward I look for the Cards to have another sharp outing against Missouri State. What I will be looking for at this game is not so much the score, but the pre-game focus, attitude and execution in all phases.
If you were watching around college football this week you saw many talented teams struggling for a majority of the game against inferior opponents. With this game coming up in which the only real question of result will be if Cards cover the spread or not, look for how the team carries themselves during warm-ups and at the beginning of the game. Though it is tough to match the intensity of opening weekend against a rival, a mature team will be able to duplicate that type of focus and passion, week after week after week. Mario Benavides spoke Monday of how although this team is young, they are mentally maturing into a team of veteran leaders. This weekend will be a test of that statement.
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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