The first half of the 2017 college football season is in the books, which means it’s report card time. As you may have expected, these grades aren’t exactly honor roll worthy.
4-2 isn’t a terrible record and there’s still plenty of football to be played, but if we’re being honest, the Cards have some serious work to do if they want to come close to meeting preseason expectations.
The Louisville offense has had some issues, but when you’re ranked 5th in the country in total offense with 557-yards per game, it’s hard to go lower than a B+. It’d be unfair to blame all of Louisville’s struggles on the defense, but Bobby Petrino made a great point on Monday stating that because the defense hasn’t been able to consistently gets stops, the offense has the pressure to score on nearly every drive. With all of that said, there have been some obvious issues on offense, but I don’t think those issues stand out as much if there wasn’t so much pressure to score points on every possession.
Needs Improvement: Establishing a rushing attack outside of Lamar Jackson — Get more production from the tight end position — Less dropped passes and penalties.
I hate to sound like a jerk, but the Louisville defense has been pretty bad all season. Midway through the season, the Cards are giving up an average of 351-yards per game, which ranks 41st nationally. Not great, but certainly not terrible. The issue is that the numbers are a little misleading. If you take away the Murray State and Kent State games and only look at games that matter, the numbers are much worse. In ACC play Louisville is giving up 511-yards per game. They’ve done a decent job at stopping the run, but opponents don’t appear to be interested in establishing their running game against the Cards because they realize they can torch the Louisville secondary. The injury to Jaire Alexander has certainly been a factor, but after his month long absence, I think it’s safe to say no one was able to come close to filling the void. What’s most disappointing is that after six games the Louisville defense doesn’t appear to have an identity.
Needs Improvement: EVERYTHING!
Special Teams: C
Blanton Creque has been the lone bright spot for the special teams. The sophomore kicker has made all nine field goals this season and ranks second in the country in made field goals per game. Outside of the Creque, the Louisville special teams unit has been average at best. They rank 35th nationally, which isn’t bad, but it feels like in most games this season the opponents have won the special teams battle.
Needs Improvement: More pressure to opposing punters — Fielding punts.