Head coach Larry Fedora told us on Monday that the defense had 25 missed assignments –
“I think there was 24, to be exact.”
Could you pinpoint exactly what the problems were for your defense against Wake Forest?
“The problems were mostly not making the transition when they changed formations from one coverage to another. Usually when a defensive back makes a mistake – it’s the nature of the position – that it typically is points or big plays and that’s where a lot of the big plays came from. It was disconcerting because the first game we had been so sharp and then we just made some mistakes. They did it right once in a while and then we’d do it wrong. And it wasn’t all on them. It was a couple of times with the line guys or maybe a linebacker didn’t carry a guy we were supposed to. Like on that 31-yard pass on that last drive, we had three guys that were playing one thing and one guy playing another and obviously you can’t do that. There’s an old saying that if you’re all wrong, you’re all right. We just didn’t get right. That’s what happens. So we can’t do that.
“Obviously, it’s the coaches’ fault - that’s the guy responsible. So it’s mine, my fault. We’ve got to find a way to not make those mistakes and then coach the guys to not make those mistakes or make it more simple for them to where they don’t make those mistakes. What’s tough is that they had done it right several times early, so it’s just one of those deals where we’ve got to find a way to not make any mistakes, particularly, again, in the back end.”
Was it a matter of you adding more to the playbook, Wake Forest mixing things up or a combination of both?
“No, you know what? They did exactly what we thought they were going to do. Honestly, we had set out in the game plan to double No. 3 [Michael Campanaro] over the middle a bunch of times and it doesn’t look like we ever did it. So I’m sitting there just going, ‘Holy smokes, that’s what we called that for.’ We did some stuff to try to get a guy over the ball so when he came in over the ball, we had a guy there. And we just didn’t… We doubled the tight end, we did crazy stuff. Again, we had been so sharp against Elon and not made any mistakes. Maybe it was because we had a couple of weeks to practice for them or maybe we just can’t put different stuff in during a week. It’s a learning process for us and for these guys.”
Has that initial short window early in the season been a problem in the past?
“No, not usually… Anyway, when you’re in the first year in a system, sometimes you have little things like that, but you don’t want it to cost you a dadgum game. And we had played good in the second half. We settled in and quit making the mistakes we had made in the second quarter. We stopped the run and made adjustments at halftime. When it’s right, it’s right and when it’s wrong, it’s wrong… I don’t know if it was the pressure or the tempo or we got tired or what happened. I don’t believe it was trying to go fast, but it was just one of those things we can’t really put our finger on, whether the guys were gassed or they relaxed – I can’t imagine why you would relax in the fourth quarter. So anyway, it’s hard to put a finger on it. The second quarter was mistake-ridden and that was a lot of not doing what we were supposed to do.”
So you felt good about the adjustments you made at halftime?
“Yeah. It showed in the second half. What they started doing early was they were max-protecting a lot and so it wouldn’t have mattered how much you blitzed. We were trying to make sure we covered all of the backs and this and that and being sound against the run. In the second half, they started seeing that we weren’t rushing a bunch of guys, but holding them back, so they started trying to release out, but we were still doing okay. Again, just that last drive with 6:32 to go. It’s one of those things that sticks in your brain. We let them have a five or six-yard run to start the drive, or maybe an eight, and then they just kind of got going.”
What challenge does Louisville present offensively?
“The challenge is that they’ve got good players… They do a really good job offensively of moving the pocket around and letting the quarterback get in a groove and get in a rhythm and use his legs to get away from any rush that you might have. A big problem that we’ve got right now is our best pass rushers are inside guys. That’s not typically – you’d like it to be your edge guys. So we’re going to see what we’ve got and do the best we can with what we’ve got.”
One of your players talked about how important containment was this week with a mobile quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater –
“Well, you can contain, but like one time today, the contain guy got too far up field and we didn’t contain. So the contain isn’t just getting outside, it’s getting level and even. We’re having to teach guys every little detail like they haven’t ever played football before because a lot of guys haven’t played.”
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