We’re back and right at twenty-four hours away from the Cards returning to the field to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers. The Cards are 5-0 and ranked 16th in the country, but still have plenty of room for improvement. They will have to bring their ‘A’ game to defeat the Panthers at Heinz Field in order to remain unbeaten. Here are this week’s keys to victory.
Pressure the quarterback
As I mentioned last time, I will keep saying this until it happens. Louisville simply has not gotten adequate, consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback and that cannot continue if they want to reach their goals as a team. Through five games, UofL has managed FIVE sacks, but not only have they not put the quarterback on the ground more, they aren’t really getting in the backfield on a regular basis.
It would be one thing if the Cards were constantly close to putting the quarterback down and just not getting there, but that’s not the case. The Cards are having problems simply getting close. They must get better in this area.
Run the football
Going on the road in conference play is never an easy thing. One of the best ways to pull out a win in that environment is to establish a running game. Charlie Strong always says when you go on the road, you have to pack your toughness, you have to pack your defense, and you have to pack your togerthness. There’s no better way to show your toughness than running the ball down the opponent’s throat. With Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright both already over 400 yards rushing on the season, they have the ability to move the ball on the ground.
In addition, by running the ball they take some pressure off Teddy Bridgewater to constantly have to make plays throwing the football. Once the run is established, it will open up Louisville’s play-action game, which I think is one of the better elements to their passing offense. Not to mention consistently running the ball takes the home crowd out of the game. If the Cards can move the ball on the ground, the chances of success will be in their favor.
Don’t give up the big play
Along the lines of taking the home crowd out of the game, one of the quickest ways to get the home crowd energized is by giving up a big play. Whether it be on special teams or a 75 yard touchdown pass, UofL’s defense cannot afford to get beat on plays like that. The Cards must be sound in all phases obviously, but particularly they cannot have a breakdown and allow a ball to get thrown over their head for a big play.
Bring the intensity
We don’t know for sure why, but the past two games there is no doubt Louisville has not come out with a high intensity level. The Cards appeared to sleepwalk through a great deal of both the Southern Miss and Florida International games and if they do that this week, they’ll be down 21-0 before they know it. I have been of the opinion UofL didn’t take their opponents seriously and coupled with the dreadful weather conditions, just wanted to get the hell out of there, but we’ll find out for sure tomorrow.
Win the turnover battle
As I said earlier, winning on the road in conference play is never easy. It gets even more difficult if you turn the ball over. On the season, both Louisville and Pittsburgh are +2 in the turnover category. Remember when we talked about not wanting to energize the home crowd? Giving the ball to the other team would be a fine way to do just that. I’d be willing to bet the team that protects the football better will win this game.
Filed Under: Football
About the Author: