We continue our look at how Louisville stacks up statistically with some of the numbers from the defense. Again, stats courtesy of NCAA.com and BigEast.org.
Total defense – 24th, 331.7 yards per game
Passing defense – 48th, 217.2 yards per game
Rushing defense – 26th, 114 yards per game
Scoring defense – 34th, 21.3 points per game
Redzone defense – 50th, 15 scores in 19 redzone opportunities (14 touchdowns, 1 field goal), 78.9%
3rd down conversions – 88th, 32 conversions in 73 attempts, 43.8%
4th down conversions – 7th, 2 conversions in 13 attempts, 15.4%
Total sacks – tied for 78th, 10 sacks total, (1.67 per game)
Big East rankings (only counts Big East contests)
Total defense – 4th, 380 yards per game
Passing defense – 8th, 287 yards per game
Rushing defense – 3rd, 93 yards per game
Scoring defense – 8th, 35 points per game
Redzone defense – tied for 7th, 4 scores in 4 chances, 100%
3rd down conversions – 8th, 8 conversions in 14 attempts, 66.7%
4th down conversions – tied for 1st, 0 conversions in 3 attempts, 0%
Total sacks – tied for 3rd, 5 sacks total (5.0 per game)
Much like the offensive numbers, the real categories to focus on are redzone defense and 3rd down conversions. Offensively, Louisville is tremendous is those two areas, which is a large reason for their success despite not having eye-popping rushing and passing numbers. However, defensively, the Cards are not doing a good job.
When opponents get into the redzone, they are scoring nearly 80% of the time, but more than that, UofL is not holding them to field goals. Of the fifteen opportunities opposing teams have had against Louisville, they have scored touchdowns fourteen times, good for a 93.3% conversion rate. In short, if you get into the redzone against the Cards and don’t turn it over, you will get 7 points.
The redzone numbers aren’t good, but the biggest killer for the UofL D is their inability to get off the field on third down. The Cards are allowing opponents to convert 43.8% of the time, which is very poor considering it’s not as if the Cards have faced a bunch of high powered offenses. Not only does giving up third down conversions keep drives alive (obviously), it forces the defense to stay on the field, which in turn tires them out. It also can demoralize a defense, particularly if they did a good job on first and second down.
I had a football coach tell me a long time ago, “It’s great to be a good defense on first and second down, but you give me a defense that is great on third down and I’ll win a ton of football games.”
The point is, being good on first and second down is fine, but if you allow the opponent to convert on third down it’s all for naught.
I trust this Louisville coaching staff to shore up the defense as we head into the final six games. I’m not sure it can be totally fixed, but with the track record this staff has, I wouldn’t bet against improvements being made. The talent is in place, the coaching is more than capable, it’s now up to them to make the necessary adjustments.
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