Several factors hurting offense

On paper, it still looks a lot like the ‘old' Louisville offense. But dig deeper and take a closer look and you'll find that the Cardinals once potent offense is experiencing considerable problems these days. What's going on?

On paper, it still looks a lot like the ‘old' Louisville offense. But dig deeper and take a closer look and you'll find that the Cardinals once potent offense is experiencing considerable problems these days. What's going on?

Statistically speaking, Louisville's offense appears potent. After eight game, the Cardinals are averaging nearly 39 points and 530 yards per game.

So what's the problem?

Consider this: In each of the past three games, Louisville has failed to run for 100 yards. That's a troubling sign for an offense that topped the century mark 12 of 13 times last season.

Here's another troubling stat: In their last eight quarters, the Cardinals failed to score in two consecutive quarters against UConn and haven't scored more than seven points in any quarter expect the final one against UConn when defensive tackle Earl Heyman returned a fumble 32 yards for the only Louisville touchdown in the second half Friday night. Louisville scored just 3 second half offensive points against UConn.

"We didn't run the ball as well as we would have hoped we would," Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "I know our offensive line struggled a little with footing early in the game but that's something we've got to continue to work to address and we need to improve upon running the football. That's a big part of our game plan and it's one of the big things that we like to do.

"And then the other thing is we've got to convert third down situations when we are throwing the football to put ourselves into position to get a fresh set of downs and again try to attack the defense."


Steve Kragthorpe needs to find someone to
rejuvinate Louisville's rushing attack
with Anthony Allen banged up.
In two of the past three games, Louisville has failed to convert at least 50 percent on third down. While the Cardinals were 11 of 18 on third down conversions against UConn, they converted only 4 of 15 in a 28-24 win over Cincinnati and 7 of 16 in a 44-35 loss to Utah.

Senior tight end Scott Kuhn, who caught three passes against UConn, including a two-yard touchdown in the first quarter, says the Cards are simply making too many mistakes.

"We just have to stick together," Kuhn said. "We have too many mistakes on offense as far as penalties. One play someone messes up and the next play somebody (else) messes up. So we have to eliminate all mistakes and play every play perfect."

Why is the veteran Louisville offense making so many mistakes now two thirds of the way through the season?

"Offensively, we're just not executing as well as we should or as well as we can," Kuhn said. "There are no real (defensive ) tricks thrown at us we just have to execute better. We're just making little mistakes."

The Cardinals do have some legitimate reasons for their recent offensive struggles. Injuries on the offensive line, at running back and wide receiver hasn't helped matters. Explosive WR Harry Douglas missed the NC State and Utah games, while Mario Urrutia hasn't played in the past three contests. Running backs Brock Bolen, Anthony Allen and Sergio Spencer have been banged up most of the season and starting right guard Mike Donoghue suffered a career-ending spinal injury against Cincinnati.

"A lot of guys are banged up right now," Kragthorpe said.

With his two leading running backs – Allen and Bolen - banged up, Kragthorpe said he might give freshman Bilal Powell and junior George Stripling an opportunity this week against Pittsburgh's improving defense.

"(Bilal) has played well for us on special teams the last couple weeks as a gunner and he did a nice job on kick return and showed some skill with the ball in his hands," Kragthorpe said. "So we're going to continue to look at guys that can help us offensively."

"I think Strip is another guy that has a chance to maybe work back into the rotation," added Kragthorpe. "We put Sergio in there at the end of the game because other guys were bumped up."

Up front, Kragthorpe hopes junior college transfer Abdul Kuyateh can step in and do the job in Donoghue's absence.

"Abdul did some good things in the game in his first significant action," Kragthorpe said. "I thought for the first start on the road in a national television game he did some good things. Certainly there are some things he needs to improve upon but I thought his effort was good and that's really the number one thing that I look at."


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