The Cards went on the road for the first time in 2012 and walked away with a 28-21 win over Florida International. Let’s see how Louisville fared with our five keys to victory.
Pressure the quarterback
The Cards did actually record a sack this week, but as a whole, they still had trouble getting consistent pressure. Roy Philon finally broke through for UofL in the 4th quarter with a sack of FIU’s E.J. Hilliard, but beyond that, there wasn’t much going on from a pass rush perspective. Marcus Smith did get close a few times, but could not ultimately put either Jake Medlock or Hilliard on the ground. There is still work to be done in this area.
Establish the run
Louisville rushed for 129 yards on the day, with Senorise Perry leading the Cards with 74 yards on 11 carries. However, they did not do a great job pounding the Panthers with the run. Now to be fair, FIU does possess a solid defensive line, so there’s no need to become overly worried about this, but I would have liked to see the Cards make a more concerted effort to establish the run. They did do that for a series in the 3rd quarter following a muffed punt by FIU and three rushing plays later UofL was in the endzone. It wasn’t a great day rushing the ball for Louisville, but I don’t think there’s any need for concern here.
Don’t give up the big play
Louisville did a much better job in this area on Saturday than last year. T.Y. Hilton pretty much single handedly beat the Cards in 2011, but with Hilton gone, the Panthers could not muster a quick score. FIU scored on drives of 13 plays, 11 plays, and 6 plays (followed a UofL turnover in their territory setting up a short field). In short, the Cards forced the Panthers to grind out drives and did not allow them to burn Louisville with a bomb or long run, which seems to be a focal point of the Louisville defensive scheme early on this season.
Shut out distractions
I’m not sure we can adequately quantify this. Louisville had a bunch of players returning to or near their hometown and had plenty of friends and family in attendance. They did win the game, so they did a good enough job in that regard. However, I felt a few times Louisville looked a bit tight, almost nervous, and perhaps outside distractions played a role in that. Bottom line however, Louisville won the game.
Play both halves
It wasn’t necessarily a pretty two halves of football, but the Cards were a bit more consistent this week. After scoring 36 points in the first half and only 3 in the second against North Carolina, Louisville scored 14 in each half against FIU. They weren’t particularly stellar and didn’t do anything too great, but they were fairly steady and did enough to win.
Remember, if this were a game where the Cards did not play their best in 2010 or 2011, they lose. They are now winning those games. And while we would all like them to tighten things up and take that big leap we all know they are capable of taking, the fact they are winning ugly is still a sign of progress.
Ideally, we would like to win pretty every week, but an ugly win still counts the same as a pretty one in the record book.
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