It's not unusual for football teams to get a head start preparing for their next opponent. Maybe they have a few extra days thanks to playing on a Thursday. Maybe they've had the luxury of an off weekend. What is unusual? Getting a head start on one team when you're in the midst of game week against somebody else. That's what Louisville did, according to head coach Bobby Petrino.
On if it's unusual to scout an opponent before their particular game week
I wouldn't have done that. I felt like when we were playing Samford that I wanted to watch some video on North Carolina State to see what could carry over. What could we work for the Samford game that would also give us an advantage on looks and things that North Carolina State does on defense. I had confidence that we could go out and play and beat Samford like we should do. So we were working a little bit ahead.
A little insulting to Samford? Sure. If you don't want to be insulted, have a better football team. Petrino's just speaking the truth here--his team had absolutely nothing to worry about in that game, and there was no reason to treat it like a normal game week, in terms of the coaches' preparation. From a coaching standpoint, a complicated game becomes really simple when the talent margin is significant. (Louisville beat Samford 45-3, by the way.)
So this was undeniably a shrewd move on Petrino's part, though likely more common than I'd guess. It's probably not unprecedented for a coaching staff to look ahead during a Tomato Can Week, but most coaches are not so frank about it.
We'll see if the head start makes any difference.