Last season, the U of L offense was a virtual machine inside their opponents red-zone, scoring touchdowns almost at will. However, against Kentucky, the Cardinals converted just three of six red-zone opportunities into points. They were stopped on fourth goal when quarterback Stefan LeFors was tackled just short of the goal-line and also had a short field-goal attempt blocked that prevented the score board from changing.
But upon further review, U of L head coach Bobby Petrino thought his offense played better after watching the game tape than he initially believed immediately after the game, crediting Mike Archer's defense for their play.
"Offensively, I thought we played a little bit better than I thought we did after the game when I watched the video," Petrino said. "You have to give their defense a lot of credit. They had a lot of guys flying around and playing extremely hard. I was impressed with the way they ran to the ball."
With the offense seemingly out of rythem during the season opener, Petrino pointed to his offensive line, which had to replace two starters, as having room for improvement.
"We need to do a better job blocking up front," Petrino said. "Especially with our assignments and locking onto linebackers."
Starting center Will Rabatin, who made his first career start at center against Kentucky, agreed with Petrino's assesment. Rabatin, who injured a knee during pre-season camp, missed nearly two weeks of practice time prior to the first game which forced Petrino and offensive line coach Mike Summers to do some experimenting and shuffling of personnel up front.
"The offensive line was out of sync," Rabbatin admitted. "I don't know what the cause of that was but we definitely need to improve on it."
Petrino admitted that his play calling was a little conservative during the first game but said there was a good reason why that was the case. The second-year head coach pointed out that his quarterback's took a couple of early hits and his running backs were having success on the ground. So why risk throwing down field when the talented trio of Lionel Gates, Eric Shelton and Michael Bush were having their way against the Kentucky defense? Seems logical enough, especially considering the outcome.
"I was a little conservative," Petrino admitted. "We got the quarterbacks hit a couple of times early in the game and we were running the ball well."
"We didn't throw the ball as much as I would have liked to because I didn't call enough [pass] plays," Petrino continued. "But I actually felt at one point in the game that it was important for us to continue to run it and try to wear them down and then get the fresh backs going in the last part of the third quarter. It seemed to play out pretty well."
So how will Petrino guard against being too conservative this Saturday against Army?
"I think we just need to open it up and get it down the field a little bit more and take a few more shots," Petrino said.
Louisville will return to action this Saturday when they travel to West Point, New York to face the Army Cadets. Kick-off is scheduled for 1:00 PM and will be televised live on WDRB-TV in Louisville.