BOZICH | Bobby Petrino has fixed "not very good" offenses before - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Bobby Petrino has fixed "not very good" offenses before

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – If you want the numbers to say that Bobby Petrino's offense at the University of Louisville looks more like a Ron Cooper offense, you can certainly do that.

This is Petrino's 10th season as an FBS head coach. The Cards' passing yards per game average -- 253 -- is the worst of Petrino's career. This is only the second time a Petrino offense has averaged less than 427 yards per game. It's also the third worst rushing average (137) for a Petrino team.

Of course, if you want to argue that it's too soon to kick the Johnny Unitas' statue over the Cards' failure to score 40 on Florida International or 25 on Virginia, fire away.

Louisville has scored 152 points in its first four games. That's 15 more than Western Kentucky scored in its first four games last season – and those WKU numbers were inflated by a 58-point performance against Morgan State.

Check year one (2008) of Petrino's four seasons at Arkansas. Petrino's first Razorbacks' team averaged 21.9 points and 259.6 yards per game. Impossible? I looked it up.

We can discuss this for another 400 words or cut directly to Petrino's assessment of the way the Louisville offense has performed the first four games:

“I always worry a little bit about taking away (from) how well the defense is playing. Because I'm so used to going and scoring points and doing that. Man, I'm telling you our defense is playing really well.

“I don't want to overshadow our defense by our offense's lack of not being able to score 60 points per game.

“We're not there yet to be able to step on the field and execute at a high rate and go down and move the ball and go down and score all the time. We've just not shown it.”

This hasn't been simply a quarterback thing, although that is always where everybody looks first. The U of L quarterbacks are barely completing 58 percent of their passes. Not good enough, not in today's college football. With Will Gardner's status in question this weekend because of an injury, the passing game remains a work in progress.

Where does that number rank among all FBS programs?

In the bottom third nationally, only 88th. Louisville sits at 58.2 percent, the same percentage as Tennessee – just ahead of Kentucky's 57.8 percentage.

The numbers on the running game are worse. Louisville is averaging 3.55 yards per rushing play. That's 97th among FBS programs. You can find 40 teams averaging at least 5 yards per carry.

That performance sounds awful – until you add the context that Louisville has a better yards per carry average than Florida State, Texas, Clemson or Penn State.

I warned you that we could have fun with these numbers. Petrino was not ready to laugh off every angle of his team's offensive inconsistencies, but his perspective certainly appears to be more balanced than it was during his first run as the Cards' head coach from 2003-06.

“A guy makes a mistake on one play,” Petrino said. “A different guy makes a mistake on another. We miss a block on a third play. We don't read it right on the fourth play.”

Time for the punch line.

“I remember back when I was a young coach, I was telling my Dad (Bobby Sr., also a former college head coach) about that,” Petrino said. “He said, ‘Yeah, that's when you're not very good.'"

So “not very good,” will have to be the description the Cards will carry into their third home game Saturday when Wake Forest visits Papa John's Cardinal Stadium at 3:30 p.m.

Not very good should be good enough to handle the Demon Deacons because Wake (2-2) has an offense that is worse than not very good. Wake's yards per game average – 262.8 – ranks last among the 60 programs in the five power leagues.

Then comes a trip to Syracuse. Nobody will compare the Orange to Oregon. Syracuse needed overtime to score 27 on Villanova and then hung 20 on Maryland last Saturday. Donovan McNabb doesn't live in the Carrier Dome any more.

Louisville has two games to figure it out and fix it. Petrino's record at Louisville, Arkansas and WKU shows that when he has the players the coach can do that.

“We're not very good on offense right now,” Petrino said. “That's how I feel.”

It's a strange feeling, not one Petrino expected to experience this season. But he's fixed an offense or two before.

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