BOZICH | Monday Muse: Petrino needs big play in Louisville defensive coordinator hire
Bobby Petrino whiffed on his last hire at defensive coordinator. He can't whiff again. The great college basketball recruiting class ever. Teddy Bridgewater time again in Minnesota.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Some first-hand reporting: The reports the current flu vaccination is a poor match for the strain of the virus infecting the population this winter are accurate.
I took my flu shot with a smile last September. I began experiencing symptoms of a confirmed case of Influenza A while crafting the Monday Muse a week ago.
Yes, I believe that the shot helped soften the symptoms. Yes, I’ve had worse flu.
But most of all, yes, I’m glad the effects of the pesky virus are going, going and (mostly) gone.
In time for another Monday Muse. Wash you hand frequently, hydrate and keep reading.
1. What Will Bobby Do?
The recruiting rankings indicate that Bobby Petrino did his best job in four seasons with the 22-prospect class he assembled during the early signing period last month. Scout.com ranked the Louisville class 28th nationally and sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
But Petrino has a more critical and challenging recruiting task ahead – finding a coordinator as well as another assistant who can fix the Louisville unit that ranked 10th in the ACC in total and scoring defense last winter.
With the likely departures of defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon (to California) and linebackers coach/recruiting coordinator Cort Dennison (pending to Oregon), Petrino has his opportunity to upgrade a unit that has trended in the wrong direction.
After three consecutive seasons ranking in the Top 20 nationally in total defense, Louisville slipped to 62nd in that category last season allowing nearly 70 more yards per game over 2016.
The Cards also slipped from 31st to 70th in scoring defense, allowing 27.4 points, the highest average since 2008.
The Sirmon hire was an expensive whiff. The Cards’ tackling was poor. The unit lacked the aggressiveness of the Todd Grantham Era. The Cards allowed 24 rushing touchdowns.
In a division where Clemson has one of the best defensive coordinators in the nation (Brent Venables), Florida State just poached its coordinator (Harlon Barnett) from Michigan State and North Carolina State made its move forward for a head coach (Dave Doeren) with strong defensive credentials, Petrino needs to nail this one.
2. Best Recruiting Class Ever (Again)
Sometimes I can’t help myself with this silly recruiting chatter. I try. I think I’m getting better. But it’s too much.
Sunday was too much. I saw a tweet with the predictable slobbering about the latest greatest class that Mike Krzyzewski is assembling at Duke, the one that unexpectedly added power forward Zion Williamson to wins R. J. Barrett and Cameron Reddish over the weekend.
In recruiting terms, it signaled the No. 2 player in the 2018 class had pledged to join the guys ranked first and third.
Apparently that is the first time the three highest guys in any class have pledged to attend the same school. That prompted this tweet.
It also prompted this response from me.
Alcindor, who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, won back-to-back-to-back NCAA titles at UCLA from 1967-69. The first and the third were celebrated at Freedom Hall.
He wasn’t a one-man class: Lynn Shackleford (shooter), Kenny Heitz (defender) and Lucius Allen (point guard) joined Alcindor after he arrived in Los Angeles from Power Memorial High School in New York City for a season of freshman basketball.
UCLA played 90 games. It won 88 – and those three trophies.
I rest my case.
3. Mr. Earth is Flat
If there was anything more perplexing than the recruiting tweet, it was the report that Celtics’ guard Kyrie Irving welcomed Williamson to the “Duke brotherhood.”
Grant Hill? Sure.
Christian Laettner? No doubt.
Jay Williams? Step right up. A legit Duke guy.
But Kyrie Irving? Irving played in 11 games for Duke during the 2011 season. That was his contribution to the Duke brotherhood before he cycled through Durham to the NBA.
Stick to geography, Kyrie.
4. Just a Tweet Worth Sharing
As I’ve mentioned several times, David Israel and John Schulian were two of my favorite sportswriters until both took their talents to the next level as writers in Hollywood.
Israel’s credential include Midnight Caller, The Untouchables and many other projects as well his work with The Olympics and horse racing.
He’s a fun follow on Twitter and had this item about former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight over the weekend.
Knight taught every team he ever coached that if it made more free throws than the other team took, it was likely to win the game. And integral to that were the shot fake and the pass fake. Get the defender in the air and you were much more likely to be fouled than not.— David Israel (@RealDavidIsrael) January 21, 2018
5. Philly For The Win
I’ll present a link to this story from a New Jersey paper about the furious celebration Eagles’ fans staged on Sunday after their team flattened the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC Championship without further editorial comment.
6. Teddy Time — Again?
I developed a string of sources during my two days as the sports columnist at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 1986, especially with the Vikings.
And word is that even before Case Keenum looked like Rex Grossman during Minnesota’s one-sided loss in Philadelphia Sunday, the Vikings were inclined to give former University of Louisville star Teddy Bridgewater a prolonged shot at winning the starting quarterback position next summer.
Here is a link to one story that supports what my peeps told me.
As well as a Tweet from a Minneapolis sports columnist.
Now that I'm on a roll with predictions (Vikings 27-10), I'll give you this one & it's ironclad: Bridgewater will be Vikings starting QB in 2018. Keenum, Bradford will be gone; another veteran will be signed.— Patrick (PJ) Reusse (@1500ESPN_Reusse) January 22, 2018
7. Localizing the Super Bowl
From the beginning there has been a list of local players with strong Super Bowl connections: Paul Hornung with the Packers; Mo Moorman with the Chiefs; Phil Simms with the Giants; Joe Jacoby with the Redskins; Will Wolford with the Bills; Deion Branch with the Patriots. It’s a fun list.
But don’t look for much local representation when the Eagles and Patriots play in Minneapolis in 13 days.
Just one active player and another on the Reserve/Future roster – both for Philadelphia.
The active player is former Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld. He’s the back-up to Nick Foles. The inactive player is former Kentucky offensive lineman Jon Toth.
8. Here Come the Cards
I’ve purchased two pre-season baseball magazines because I’ve only found two on the news stand. The Street & Smith yearbook includes more than team previews.
The magazine also ranks the Top 20 prospects in the farm systems of every big league team. There is plenty of representation by former University of Louisville players.
Here is the list:
Second baseman Nick Solak — Not only is he ranked 8th in a solid Yankees’ system, Solak is described a player who could make the major leagues late in the 2018 season.
Pitcher/first baseman Brendan McKay — I don’t need to introduce the former national player of the year, who sits third on the list of Tampa prospects, even without choosing a position.
Relief pitcher Zack Burdi — As soon as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, Burdi will be fast-tracked toward the big leagues as the White Sox No. 14 prospect.
Pitcher Kyle Funkhouser — The Tigers need pitching without Justin Verlander and as the team’s No. 9 prospect Funkhouser should get a look if he’s healthy.
Outfielder Corey Ray — Even though he had an issue with strikeouts last season, Ray will have every opportunity to make it as the Brewers’ fourth-ranked prospect.
Catcher Will Smith — The magazine says that Smith is “almost a sure bet” to make the big leagues as the Dodgers’ No. 7 prospect.
Third baseman Drew Ellis — Arizona loves what Ellis did during his first pro season and he ranks 11th on the team’s prospect list.
9. Here Comes Jo Adell
Dan McDonnell’s former U of L recruits are not the only guys I’ll be tracking when spring training begins in, oh, 23 days.
Former Ballard star Jo Adell is still considered the guy who can become The Next Great Thing (other than Mike Trout) for the Los Angeles Angels. Adell is a slugging, five-tool outfielder who should arrive in right field in Anaheim no later than 2021.
The Sporting News ranks Adell as the top prospect in the entire Angels’ farm system. Baseball America put him at 46th, nine spots behind McKay, in the minor leagues when BA released its Top 100 list Monday morning.
10. Poll Results
Which college basketball team would you rank Number One?
Villanova 55.9 percent
Purdue 23.7 percent
Virginia 13.1 percent
West Virginia 7.2 percent
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