BOZICH | Monday Muse: Defensive outage leading to ESPN's 5-7 pro - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Monday Muse: Defensive outage leading to ESPN's 5-7 projection for Louisville?

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Rick Bozich delivers his weekly Monday Muse. Rick Bozich delivers his weekly Monday Muse.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Happy Muse-Day. Welcome to the Flashing Lights Edition.

Somebody has put out an APB for the University of Louisville football team – and not simply for the name of the Cards’ starting quarterback when Clemson visits Thursday night.

I have a more pressing question: What has happened to the defense?

The one that gave up 34 against Houston, including 17 stinging fourth-quarter points? You score 31 you should beat Houston, right?

The one that head coach Bobby Petrino said failed to play with enough energy against the Cougars?

The one that ranks 76th nationally in total defense and passing efficiency defense as well as 104th in rushing defense?

I know it’s two games. Some schools have been playing Jacksonville State, Western Illinois and Howard while Louisville has played Auburn (shaky against Jacksonville State) and Houston.

Here is the troubling thing for the Cards: The Houston game wasn’t the first sub-par defensive effort for Louisville. It was the fourth straight.

Here are the defensive numbers for Louisville’s last four games, three of them defeats.


                rushing  passing  total yds    pts

Houston   226        236          462           34

Auburn     190        137          327           31

Georgia    292        200          492           37

Kentucky  151       176          327           40

Totals       859       749        1608         142

Per Game 214.8  187.3       402.0       35.5

Petrino, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, tackle Sheldon Rankins, linebacker James Burgess and the rest of the unit have work to do. (Numbers corrected for the Auburn game.)

2. Changing Forecast?

The poll at the top of the column asks whether Louisville’s back-to-back opening defeats to Auburn and Houston have you re-thinking your season prediction for the Cardinals.

I forecast an 8-4 season. My teammate Mike Lacett said 6-6 – and was promptly char-broiled on Twitter.

Considering Louisville must play North Carolina State, Florida State and Kentucky on the road as well as the Thursday night game here against Clemson, a finish of 8-4 looks like a Best Cast Scenario.

As usual, there is a web site for that. ESPN’s football power index includes an updated projected win total for every FBS team. (The link.)

Here are the latest totals for the locals:

Louisville  -- 4.9

Kentucky – 7.3

Indiana – 5.1

Western Kentucky -- 9.0

3. Houston Hoedown

If the intensity and longevity of a team’s celebration to delivering an upset victory is a compliment to the losing program, then the University of Louisville program has broken new ground in national respect.

I say that for two reasons:

A. The University of Houston players, coaches and staff were hugging and dancing and high-fiving and celebrating for nearly 15 minutes before they left the field at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium Saturday after Houston’s 34-31 upset victory.

B. The party didn’t end there.  The players were later standing on tables, waving the state flag and celebrating as if they had knocked off Number One in the locker room. Click this You Tube video. Watch the last 30 seconds.

Houston was convinced that beating Louisville was a really, really, really big deal.

4. Kentucky Beats Florida – Predicted Here July 17

Let there be no confusion where you read it first. I’m going to remind you.

Right here. On July 17.  At WDRB.com. Click here for proof.

I said it then because I believed it and I still believe it today.

The longest single series losing streak in college football will end Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium when Kentucky beats Florida. Yes, the Gators were listed as a 3 ½ point favorite Monday morning.

After Temple beat Penn State on opening weekend to stop a 31-game losing streak against the Nittany Lions, Florida’s 28 straight Ws over Kentucky moved into first place overall on the active list. It also ranks seventh in college football history. The leader is Notre Dame’s 43 straight wins over Navy.

Kentucky is better at quarterback. Kentucky is more experienced. Kentucky had the Gators beaten last season. Commonwealth Stadium will be jumping Saturday. Be prepared to collapse the goal posts.

5. The End of Steve Spurrier

Steve Spurrier lost his fastball several years ago when his South Carolina program couldn’t win the Southeastern Conference title with guys like Alshon Jeffery, Jadeveon Clowney, Bruce Ellington, Marcus Lattimore (pre-injury) on the roster.

The reason? Quarterback malfunction. Spurrier has never been able to produce an elite quarterback at South Carolina.

I have sincere doubts that his jumbo-sized ego can process back-to-back losses to Kentucky. We’ll see.

How are South Carolina fans processing back-to-back losses to UK as well as the news that the Gamecocks are 17-point underdogs at Georgia Saturday?

I went Gamecock Central.com to check their message boards.

Pick your favorite thread:

*Spurrier and Co. Need To Go

*Spurrier Has Done Himself In

*If We Don’t Make a Bowl Game This Year, Does Spurrier Retire?

*We Need To Take a Step Back, Hold Our Breath …

6. No Breathing Room For Charlie Strong – Yet

Charlie Strong changed play-callers, quarterbacks and direction Saturday – and the Texas Longhorns handled Rice, 42-28. With freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard passing for only 120 yards but running for 96, the Texas offense showed more juice. But this was Rice, not Notre Dame.

But it’s too soon for Strong to exhale.  It was Rice, not TCU or Baylor. The Longhorns (1-1) play host to California Saturday in another Must Win.

And the Bears are favored by seven.

In Austin.

For the record, the ESPN computer is forecasting 5-7 for Texas.

7. Obligatory S-E-C Observation

Last week the Southeastern Conference drew too much love, stuffing 10 teams in the Associated Press Top 25.

This week, after Arkansas lost to Toledo, Tennessee collapsed against Oklahoma and Auburn deserved an L against Jacksonville State, the trend has flipped to questioning the strength of the league.

As usual, the truth is somewhere in between. Alabama looks like a national title contender. We’ll find out if Ole Miss can say the same thing this week against the Crimson Tide. Louisiana State has one conference road win in the bank. Texas A&M can’t be ignored.

But Vandy is Vandy. South Carolina is in decline. And Bret Bielama needs to be quiet about Ohio State’s schedule until his Arkansas Razorbacks can beat the fourth-best program in Ohio.

How does it look for the SEC this weekend?

League play accelerates with four conference games. The other six schools play at home – three against FCS opponents.

No excuses. The SEC needs to go 6-0, including Vanderbilt against Austin Peay.

And remember: Nobody has to play Toledo.

8.  DeMarcus Smith Sighting – Sort Of

Former Seneca High School quarterback DeMarcus Smith is still trying to make his way as an FBS quarterback.

Smith committed to and then de-committed from Louisville long, long ago. Then he was bound for Central Florida. Then he was at Western Kentucky. Then one season at junior college in Iowa.

Now he’s at Texas State – on the bench.

Smith did not play for the Mean Green Saturday when they lost to SMU. Maybe he’ll get a chance Saturday against Rice.

9. Quit Targeting ASAP

Hat tip to college football officials. They’re calling and enforcing the targeting rule that was designed to prevent injuries. Houston defensive back Howard Wilson was tossed from the game Saturday for his hit against U of L punt returner Zaire Alexander.

According to a story by the Associated Press, Wilson was one of nine players ejected for a targeting violation over the weekend.

Maybe players will finally realize the dangers of leading with their helmets and hitting a player unable to defend himself.

But I’m not convinced.

10. Poll Results

What was the most surprising score during the first weekend of college football?

1. Temple 27, Penn State 10  36.9 percent

2. Notre Dame 38, Texas 3 34.6 percent

3. Northwestern 16, Stanford 6  23.7 percent

4. Texas A&M 38, Arizona State 17 4.8 percent

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