Louisville Card File: Southern Mississippi

Among the many questions that remain about the Cardinals five games into the season, there are a couple of trends about which we can be certain.

They are mudders. Much was made about the water and flooding before and during the Florida International game. Silly us. It was but a prelude to last night’s sloshfest, contested during a monsoon on Lake Hattiesburg, where they could have held a hydroplane regatta for post game entertainment. We do know the Cards can persevere on a wet track.

Deluges ‘r’ Us.

They are also muddlers. U of L is 5-0. But for the opening half against North Carolina offensively, and a few stalwart defensive moments — the last defensive stop of that game, a couple of stirring three and outs last night — Louisville has muddled its way to an undefeated record. Unimpressively, against five opponents, whose record collectively is 5-19. Glossy is not an adjective that immediately comes to mind. None of those Ws by Cardinal opponents has come against a BCS conference school.

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Which brings us to the important consideration as Louisville takes a week off before journeying to 2-2 Pitt, whose W over Big East whipping boy Virginia Tech isn’t looking quite as impressive after the Hokies lost in the final seconds yesterday to Cincy.

How good a football team is U of L?

There is certainly something to be said, no matter the quality of the competition, for winning every time you play. Louisville had to come back last night, enduring horrid playing conditions. Good for them.

That only barely makes up for the woeful tackling — actually, the lack thereof — on display during the first half.

Two coaching terms that seemed to have slipped the Cardinals’ minds last night. Put a hat on ‘em. Wrap ‘em up. Then there’s this question: Who is going to make something happen on D? Other than Andrew Johnson’s break up to seal the W over the Tar Heels, I can’t immediately think of another.

Senorise Perry continues to impress me. He always gets yards after being hit.

Teddy B was 9/13 in the air last night despite the inclemency.

Louisville’s generally unimpressive defense did hold Southern Miss scoreless after the half, giving the sputtering offense some wiggle room to finally take the lead for the victory. Corey Acosta’s doinked FG from 47 yards away helped. Again, the Cards registered but a lone sack. Then again, The Golden Eagles only attempted 9 passes.

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I remain curious about some of Shawn Watson’s sets. Given the conditions, he was arguably less conservative last night than in recent games. He actually passed a few times on 1st and 2d downs, despite the rain.

Yet, when it was obvious that running north and south was the only viable strategy given the puddles on the turf, U of L continually tried to hit the corners wide. Seems like a few straight ahead thrusts, off tackle slams — the first plays in a jayvee team’s arsenal — might have been effective.

Yet again, the use and failure to use two-point conversions allows one to question Charlie Strong’s coaching acumen.

Down 12-17, still early in the game in the second quarter, Strong chased the points by going for the deuce after Senorise Perry’s TD. That is questionable strategy at best.

Not going for two after Perry’s second TD, giving the Cards the lead with 5:35 to play was, simply stated, bad coaching. The Cards were up 4, 21-17. A single point meant nothing. Literally. SM had to score a TD to get ahead. Or two FGs. Either way, a five point lead was of no consequence.

But, if U of L had gone for and made a two-point conversion, the lead would have been six. Meaning Southern Miss would have to score a TD, and make the conversion in those bad conditions.

Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad strategy there.

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Louisville survived thanks to the kindness of strangers.

On U of L’s only offensive drive of the 3d quarter, ending in an important and seriously helpful 38-yard John Wallace FG, the Golden Eagles aided the effort. The drive remained alive with not one but three SM penalties. A face mask, a roughing the passer and another face mask to offset a U of L hold.

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So, for the fifth week in succession, and the hard part of the schedule still ahead, U of L’s faithful still are waiting to see the dominant team they hoped for.

But, breathing a sigh of relief, they can chant, all together now, “A win is a win is a win.”

– Seedy K

One Comment

  1. doug
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Totally in agreement on the 2 point conversion strategy. The element of surprise can be effective early into games, but chasing points early never makes sense!
    And not going for 2 late in the game was the worst decision of all 2 point discussions to date, ESPECIALLY given field conditions and possibility of a botched kick.

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