Another One?

By Carolyn Braff - September 07, 2007

At halftime of last night's Louisville-Middle Tennessee game, anyone watching the 38-35 scoring fest was probably thinking the same thing: Oh no, not again. Another top-ten team locked in a much-too-close battle with a far weaker opponent sounded echoes that were all too clear of last weekend's miraculous Wolverine fall-from-grace at the hands of a FCS team. Last night was the same story, different ending: Middle Tennessee, last year's Sun Belt Conference champion (which is roughly the equivalent of 2006 FCS champion Appalachian State), took it to No. 8 Louisville, and at half time, the Blue Raiders had the Cardinals right where they wanted them. Luckily, Brian Brohm and the offense prevailed, avoiding the second-biggest upset story of the season by leading Louisville to a 58-42 win.

It seemed all too easy for Middle Tennessee, a team that lost its opening game to Florida Atlantic, 27-14. Louisville showed why it is the nation's No. 8 team on the first play from scrimmage when Brohm hit Gary Barnidge for an 81-yard touchdown pass, but three plays later, Middle Tennessee showed otherwise, answering iwth a 78-yard TD strike of their own. And so it went, back and forth, while everyone associated with Louisville football tried to bat Michigan-inspired nightmares out of their heads.

Luckily for bookies and pollsters everywhere, Louisville did pull out the win, but it was a rather unconvincing performance from a team that put together such a dominant 73-10 opening statement last week. Granted, the Cardinals have still yet to play a real opponent, and we learned last week that top 10 rankings don't mean a whole lot this early in the game, but Louisville narrowly got away last night, and Kentucky may not be so forgiving.

"It's not exactly the way we wanted to play in every phase," head coach Steve Kragthorpe said in what may be the understatement of the year.

A few phases the Cardinals might want to improve upon if they plan to stay the No. 8 team in the country:

Run defense. Louisville allowed MTSU to average 9.1 yards per rush. They key word being AVERAGE. That is far, far too many, especially considering Louisville averaged only 6.2 yards per run themselves (still a very high stat, but not in the context of this game).

Pass defense. MTSU averaged 20.7 yards per completion on 14 passes. Under the brilliance of Heisman candidate Brohm, the Cardinals averaged a good four yards less per completion (16.0). If Middle Tennessee gained 290 yards passing, what will Kentucky do, not to mention West Virginia?

Total defense. Middle Tennessee gained 555 yards on 55 plays, averaging more than 10 yards per play. That's not good. We all know Louisville is an offensive team, but if you're going to give up a first down every time the other team snaps the ball, West Virginia and Rutgers are going to have a field day late in the season.

Kragthorpe apparently littered the Louisville locker room with mouse traps this week to encourage his players to stay focused on this game, rather than get caught in the trap of looking ahead to Kentucky. He even mentioned the performances (or lack thereof) of Michigan and Texas last weekend as cautionary tales for his players, but it appears the players may have avoided the mouse traps, but only narrowly missed the real trap.

"Thank good [sic] for our offense and that we are an offensive team," junior DT Earl Heyman said.

Yes, thank God for that, and get the defense ready before next week.

Posted by Carolyn Braff at 12:14 PM on September 07, 2007
Comments (1)


the cards should now be called the cars
no "D"
coach k you have some splaining to do

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