LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- In a season where reasonable people wondered if there would be a single snap of college football, Louisville, Kentucky and Western Kentucky have completed at least half their regular-season schedules.
The Cardinals sit at 2-4. Louisville’s preseason forecast tilted closer to 4-2.
The Wildcats sit at 2-3. The wise-guys liked Kentucky to be one game better than that.
The Hilltoppers are also 2-4. That’s an underperformance of at least a game and maybe two.
What’s been the problem?
I try to keep my view consistent: It’s never one thing. It’s always a string of things. There are too many moving parts on any football team to pin problems on a single coordinator, position group or coaching decision.
But after looking at the statistics for every team as well as the individual player grades posted by ProFootballFocus (a premium analytics site that requires a subscription), here are legitimate talking points:
1. Quarterback play has been blah.
ProFootballFocus staffers watch and grade game video from every play of every player every game. They post grades on their site.
The performances by Malik Cunningham of Louisville, Terry Wilson of Kentucky and Tyrrell Pigrome of WKU have not dazzled the PFF staff.
The site ranked 99 quarterbacks. None of the locals made the Top 40.
Wilson, who appears to be in danger of losing his starting spot to Joey Gatewood, earned the top local ranking. He’s No. 48 — extremely average.
Pigrome earned the 65th spot while Cunningham is two spots behind at 67. Cunningham’s overall offensive grade is 63.9 (out of possible 100), which is down 10.1 points from last season.
Looking at traditional numbers, Cunningham has the best passing yards per game average of the trio. At 232.7 ypg, Cunningham ranked No. 36. Cunningham is hurt by his five interceptions and his 62.9% completion percentage, which ranked 43rd in the nation.
2. Is it the quarterbacks or is it the receivers?
This is a question only Louisville coach Scott Satterfield, Mark Stoops of UK and WKU’s Tyson Helton can answer. But the graders at ProFootballFocus have not been dazzled by the play of any local receivers or tight ends.
At receiver, the highest rated player is the name you would expect: Tutu Atwell, the Cardinals’ slot receiver.
But PFF ranked Atwell No. 37 of 287 guys it graded. Not awful. It’s in the top-13% in the nation.
Except ... last season PFF loved Atwell. I do mean loved. Atwell ranked No. 3 of 686 receivers with an overall grade of 91.2. His grade this season is 74.2.
The next highest local receiver is Josh Ali of Kentucky. He’s ranked No. 68.
The top-ranked local tight is Louisville’s Marshon Ford, No. 32 of 111 guys.
3. There aren’t many defensive studs either.
I checked the grades for the five positions that PFF grades — cornerbacks, safeties, linebacker, interior defensive line and edge defenders.
Only three local defenders ranked in the top 30 at their positions.
Tops is Louisville defensive lineman Jared Goldwire. He earned the No. 8 ranking among interior defenders. Goldwire has made 23 tackles, seventh-best for the Cards. He has also broken up a pass, recovered a fumble and blocked a kick.
The other two top-30 defenders play for Stoops. Jamin Davis earned the No. 15 ranking at linebacker while Quinton Bohanna earned the No. 18 position at interior defender.
4. Hat — or helmet — tip to the offensive linemen.
If there is one area where the local programs have impressed ProFootballFocus, it is across the offensive line. Six players were ranked in the top 20 players at their positions.
In fact, at center there are a pair of top-10 performers. Kentucky’s Drake Jackson graded as No. 6 of 89 with Louisville’s Cole Bentley three spots behind at No. 9.
All three teams have a top-20 performer at guard. Jordan Meredith of WKU (No. 5) is the headliner, followed by Louisville’s Caleb Chandler (No. 13) and UK’s Luke Fortner (No. 18).
Kentucky has another stud at tackle where Darian Kinnard earned the No. 6 ranking, the best in the Southeastern Conference.
With a trio of top-20 offensive lineman, it’s reasonable to ask why Kentucky has failed to run the ball for even 100 yards in two of its last three games.
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