LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The Fourth of July is a perfect time to discuss the Major League Baseball pennant races or fuss about the U.S. Women’s National Team being the world’s cup of tea.
I will take another direction and offer some fireworks about the University of Louisville football team.
Coastal Crunch: Louisville will swap Georgia Tech for Miami as its rotating opponent from the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division.
Timing is everything.
Is it possible to file an appeal?
Tech made a coaching change after last season, and the Yellow Jackets are a unanimous pick to finish last in the three college football yearbooks — Phil Steele, Sporting News, Athlon Sports — that I have purchased.
Miami is not picked to finish last. The Hurricanes are the selection to place first (Phil Steele), second (Sporting News) and third (Athlon).
Don’t be deceived by the coaching change in Coral Gables. Manny Diaz takes over for Mark Richt, but Diaz knows the Miami personnel because he was Richt’s defensive coordinator.
Miami must improve an offense that ranked ninth in the ACC in scoring last season. To do that, Diaz recruited Dan Enos from Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama to run the offense and Tate Martell from Ohio State to play quarterback.
The best thing about the Cards’ trip to Miami (other than it being the second Saturday in November) is Louisville will play the Hurricanes after an off week. As the Cards rest on Nov. 2, Miami will play Florida State in Tallahassee.
The Cards’ other Coastal opponent is the same program that regularly platy U of L tough for five seasons — and beaten U of L. Hello, Virginia.
The Cavaliers are a program on the come-up with coach Bronco Mendenhall, finishing 8-5 last year while pummeling South Carolina (28-0) in the Belk Bowl.
They’re the pick to win the Coastal by The Sporting News and Athlon, because Mendenhall has 13 returning starters, including Bryce Perkins, one of the ACC’s top dual-threat quarterbacks.
It appears Steele agrees. He ranked Louisville’s schedule as the 15th most difficult in the nation — and the toughest in the ACC.
The next toughest schedule in the ACC? Georgia Tech's is ranked No. 24. Five ACC teams, including Clemson (66) are not ranked in the Top 50 schedules.
For comparison, Kentucky's schedule is ranked No. 51 and Indiana's is 47th.
Talent Drain: Phil Steele regularly does the most exhaustive background work. One example: He picks the top players in the league four deep at every position.
How many Louisville players made Steele’s first-, second-, third- or fourth-team?
Offensive tackle Mekhi Becton made the first team, the only Card to make the top three teams
Four of Scott Satterfield’s players earned fourth-team recognition: receiver Dez Fitzpatrick, linebacker C.J. Avery, kick returner Hassan Hall and long snapper Mitch Hall.
For comparison, in 2017, Steele recognized eight Louisville players on his top four teams, featuring guys like Lamar Jackson, Jaire Alexander, Geron Christian and James Hearns.
Trust Phil Steele: I told you statistics, not writing, was the strength of Steele’s yearbook. I’ll try to explain one of his trademark stats that tilts toward the Cardinals.
Steele calls it the Bull Market. He judges a team’s performance during the last season (in this case, 2018) against its performance in the two previous seasons (2016 and 2017). Recent tradition matters.
By going 2-10 last season after averaging 8.5 wins the previous two years, the Cards earned a 6.5 in Steele’s Stock Market.
That was the largest net drop of any FBS team — and, by Steele’s calculation, reason for optimism.
According to Steele, since 1990, only 34 teams have earned 6 or higher in his Stock Market calculation. Steele reported that 29 of those 34 teams won more games the following season. Only four had a weaker record and one won the same number of games.
So, expect three or more wins, according to Steele’s stock report.
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