Louisville coach Charlie Strong knows his team needs to work on being more disciplined. It is a problem that has plagued his Cardinals for two years now.
Once again, Louisville is one of the most penalized teams in the nation. Louisville ranks last in the Big East and tied for No. 113 in the country in penalties per game (8.6). The Cardinals also rank last in the league and tied for No. 103 in the nation in penalty yards per game (68.4).
Last season, Louisville was last in the Big East in both categories; No. 111 in the nation in penalties per game (7.9) and No. 105 in penalty yards per game (63.8). As you can see, Louisville is actually worse in both categories this season.
In the last two losses to Marshall and North Carolina, the Cardinals have a combined 20 penalties for 169 yards. Many have been costly errors that have slowed or stopped drives altogether, severely hampering an already inconsistent offense.
"The thing that has really been our Achilles' heel is penalties," Strong said at his press conference earlier this week. "When you look at it, I think over the last four games we are at nine penalties a game. It is either a penalty on defense that allows an offense to drive the ball, or offensively, we are getting stopped because we are not able to continue to drive the ball down the field. That is what we need to do - we've got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. That is what we are doing with all of these penalties right now on offense."
The lack of discipline hurts Louisville, but so does one other major factor in every game -- turnover margin. Though Louisville had too many penalties last season, at least the Cardinals were able to take the ball away and limit their mistakes in this area. The Cardinals ranked No. 3 in the Big East with a turnover margin of plus-3. In all, they had 19 takeaways on the season.
Through five games this year, they have five combined takeaways, tied for No. 107 in the nation. They are at minus-4 in turnover margin, tied for the worst in the Big East and No. 98 in the country. You can bet a big emphasis for the Cardinals has been trying to get strips on ball carriers to at least try and get some momentum going for the offense.