RUSSO ON FOOTBALL: Coach Krag struggling at Louisville, Coach Jag off to a great start at BC Print
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Sunday, 23 September 2007 14:07
NCAAF Headline News

 Welcome to the world of high expectations, Steve Kragthorpe.
After two bad losses, some of the Louisville faithful have already lost faith in their new coach, who was considered a rising star when he was lured from Tulsa to replace Bobby Petrino.
Meanwhile, at Boston College, the first-year coach with the low-profile and hard-to-pronounce name has the Eagles quietly rolling. Jeff Jagodzinski drew more ``Who's that?'' than ``Nice catch'' reactions when he was picked as Tom O'Brien's successor.
Four weeks into the season, Coach Jag is living the life that was supposed to be Coach Krag's.
No. 12 Boston College is 4-0 and at the top of its conference with a Heisman Trophy contender at quarterback.
Kragthorpe has an unranked team on a two-game losing streak after an embarrassing 38-35 home loss to Syracuse on Saturday.
``I'll start with professing my thorough loss of faith in Coach Kragthorpe and the coaching staff,'' wrote Tom Heiser, The Cardinal Fan, on his blog at The Courier-Journal newspaper's Web site.
That's pretty tame stuff compared to what was being written at www.insidetheville.com after Saturday's debacle.
To think, just a few months ago hiring Kragthorpe seemed to be a slam dunk.
A creative offensive coach and the architect of an impressive turnaround at Tulsa, just after being hired at Louisville, Kragthorpe won over star quarterback Brian Brohm and helped convince the Heisman Trophy contender to return for his senior season.
The new coach also seemed to be a perfect follow-up to Petrino personality-wise. Petrino is a prickly perfectionist. Kragthorpe is far more personable.
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich handed Kragthorpe a ready-made contender. Louisville had most of its potent offense back and six defensive starters.
Well, the Cardinals' offense has been fine, averaging over 600 yards and 50 points per game.
The defense, however, might very well be the worst in the country. Yes, there are more than two dozen teams giving up more yards and points per game than Louisville (437 yards and 32.5 points), but no defense could possibly miss more tackles and blow more coverages.
Brohm and the offense have had to score just about every time they touch the ball. That didn't happen against Syracuse, when they turned it over four times, or the week before against rival Kentucky.
(By the way, losing to the in-state rival your team has dominated the past five years is No. 1 on the list of ``How NOT to ingratiate yourself to the new fans'' in the coaches' handbook).
Teams that play bad defense, turn the ball over as much as they take it away and commit ill-timed personal fouls - as Louisville did while trying to rally against the Orange - are labeled undisciplined. That inevitably gets blamed on the coach.
On Sunday, the coach was talking tough.
``We're going to do whatever it takes,'' he said, ``If we rattle somebody's chain, we rattle somebody's chain. If someone's feelings get hurt, someone's feelings get hurt. We're not running a happiness camp, we're trying to get things fixed.''
Four games into his tenure, it's silly to conclude Kragthorpe isn't running a tight enough ship.
Really, the Cardinals' problem is simple: Their defense is terrible. Maybe coordinator Mike Cassity, who was co-coordinator last season, isn't getting the job done. Or maybe his players just don't get it.
We don't know if Kragthorpe is the right man for the job any more than we did in August, when he seemed to be the logical choice.
On the other hand, Jagodzinski was a typical Boston College choice. The Eagles were not about to throw huge dollars at some hot, young coach or try to pry away an established guy from another successful program.
Boston College AD Gene DeFilippo said he wanted someone familiar with the program, so he tapped Jagodzinski, a former BC offensive coordinator who was running the Green Bay Packers' offense.
The hire produced no buzz and was generally perceived as a sound move by Eagles fans, who were mostly looking for a guy who wouldn't screw up a good program.
What Jagodzinski has produced is a team that's already 3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and looks like the best of a jumbled league.
His high-energy, rah-rah approach have provided a welcome jolt to the Eagles after the stoic and staid O'Brien. His pro-style offense is tailor-made for strong-armed quarterback Matt Ryan.
For four games, Jagodzinski has been a genius and Kragthorpe has been clueless.
In reality, we still don't know that much about either.
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Ralph D. Russo covers college football for The Associated Press. Write to him at rrusso(at)ap.org.
 

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