Even after a dominant 49-7 win for the University of Louisville football team over Ohio University last Sunday, Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson insists that the Cardinals still have room for improvement heading into week two.
"Honestly, we have so many things to clean up. The penalties are something we need to clean up. We had too many flinch penalties," Watson said.
As a team, Louisville had 11 penalties against Ohio, including five false starts and two holding calls. The infractions ended up costing the Cardinals a total of 90 yards on the day.
The flinch penalties drive me nuts because that's a wasted play, it's a wasted opportunity. Those are things that we need to get cleaned up," Watson added. "You can clean those up very easily. That's just a point of focus, really."
Watson also said that he would like to see the tempo of the Cardinal offense improve.
"Probably three quarters of the time we were in sync and we were running fast, but then we kind of played down a little bit as the game went on," Watson said. "I don't want to lose that edge. Even if it's with (the second unit)."
The Cardinals ripped through the Ohio defense for 615 yards of total offense on Sunday on its way to seven touchdowns. The team picked up 416 of those yards through the air, while five different Cardinal running backs accounted for the bulk of the team's 199 rushing yards.
Watson's appraisal was not entirely improvement-minded. Given the undeniable numbers his unit posted on Sunday, he did express pleasure with several areas of the offense's performance.
"I thought overall the effort was outstanding," Watson said. "I thought we were very well-assigned. We were technically sound, too. So there were things that were really clean."Watson told Cardinal Authority during last week's preparation that technique and "small things," were areas that the team was emphasizing following fall camp.
Watson was also pleased with his unit's aggression.
"We were physical, and I want to be physical. We were very physical and I was really happy with that," he said.
Aside from the handful of penalties, Watson seemed pleased with the offensive line's performance, noting that new starters Ryan Mack, Chris Acosta, and Nacho Garcia "as a group, played well."
The Cardinals witnessed a breakout performance by wide receiver Kai De La Cruz on Sunday, who caught four passes for 116 yards and found the end zone twice. Watson attributed Da La Cruz's big day to the nature of the offense being one that allows any number of receivers to make a difference on a given day.
"In our offense all five (receivers) are alive. Any of them could get the football," Watson said. "We're going to spread the ball around. You're going to have to defend everybody we put on the field."
But now the Cardinals are putting the Ohio win behind them and making adjustments for their upcoming matchup with Eastern Kentucky.
"We're just preparing for them like we do everybody else. We're planning to change us and the way we present ourselves and do what we do best and attack their structure," Watson said. "This week I want to see our guys play clean football."
The No. 8 Cardinals look to improve upon their 1-0 record when the Eastern Kentucky University Colonels visit Papa John's Cardinal Stadium Saturday at noon.