I'm not afraid to admit that heading into last weekend I had serious doubts about the good guys' ability to pull out a victory, but not once did I imagine being forced to sit through the three and-a-half hours of complete spirit-crushing ineptitude that was U of L's performance in the '08 Battle for the Governor's Cup.
Twenty-seven to two. To be honest, it's almost more embarrassing than 27-0, especially when you're aware of the fact that the safety was awarded after a penalty.
So where the hell do we go from here? The smart ass/media friendly answer is to the Tennessee Tech game, but that ignores the issue that even the red-clad fan with the longest track record of calling the glass half-full now has in the back of their mind.
That was a mediocre Kentucky team (if you guys win more than seven games, bowl game included, I'll take it back), and a mediocre Kentucky team just came into Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and beat Louisville by 25 points.
There's not a Brian Brohm at Trinity, there's not a Michael Bush at Male, there's not any otherworldly local talent who's itching for the opportunity to take the program he grew up cheering for to unprecedented heights. And the otherworldly out-of-state talent isn't exaclty banging on the Trager Center door, either.
When your program is in a state of flux, as Louisville's certainly appears to be, you miss two or three postseasons, you haul in two or three complementarily average recruiting classes, and then all of the sudden you've been rebuilding for a decade.
Even with its softest schedule in several years lying ahead, the Cardinal team on the field Sunday again looked incapable of earning a postseason. To those of us who can still remember what Miami felt like just 20 months ago, that's terrifying.
I can't begin to tell you how many times during the first three quarters (before the crying started) I either thought or said outloud, "God, we need a receiver."
I kept waiting for us to take a shot deep or do something, anything, different, but we simply don't have the horses. Beaumont was fantastic, and did everything we could have asked him to do, but you simply can't stretch the field or put the fear of god into safeties when you're 5-foot-9. Josh Chichester looked light years ahead of where I figured he'd be at this point in his career, but he's still nowhere near the level where he can be relied on as a quarterback's top deep threat.
This team needs a healthy Scott Long more than just about anything else right now.
I realize that Kentucky's defensive line, which is as good as advertised, had a lot to do with it, but our running backs looked slow.
We wondered before the game just how much Bilal Powell had evolved as a ball carrier, and if Sunday's game is any indication, then the answer is not much. He's still receiving hand-offs at almost a dead stop, he still looks reluctant to run hard inside the tackles, and it's safe to say that the ball security issue raised its head.
I'm not sure who the explosive Vic Anderson who dominated spring and fall camp was, but he wasn't the one on the field this weekend.
Brock Bolen didn't seem to have anyone willing to block for him whenever he touched the ball, and his longest scamper of the day was five yards.
Jeff Adams was abused for four quarters, and Mark Wetterer didn't fare much better.
Huge kudos to the defense, especially the much-maligned linebacking corps, for its performance. The unit played with a passion, recklessness and refusal to line up in the wrong place that was absent for four months last season.
If the offense can find its stride, and these guys can prove that they're able to give a similar effort against a team with a quarterback who isn't less accurate than I am on throws longer than 20 yards, then there may have hope for a holiday in Canada yet.
Twelve men on the field after a timeout, eh? Ah, the more things change...seriously, I can't remember how it ends. Something about not wearing white after Labor Day?
I'm not sure if Johnny Burns is, but Pete Nochta does not appear to be the answer at tight end.
We discussed the possibility of this occurring last week, but can you recall a team you've cheered for heading into a bigger no-win situation than the one Louisville enters this weekend. If the Cards beat Tennessee Tech by 60, then we can talk about progress and get ready for Kansas State, but it certainly won't erase any of the negativity that the Kentucky loss fashioned. If the Tigers are able to keep the final score somewhere in the vicinity of two touchdowns...oh boy.
Maybe the team needed the emotional boost, but Trent Guy looked like he had no business being on the field Sunday.
Johnny Patrick, Bobby Buchanan, Richard Raglin, and - somewhat surprisingly - Woodny Turenne all brought the lumber from the secondary. Again, not to take away from anyone's defensive performance, but this will be a bit more impressive against an offense where completing a deep ball is a realistic possibility.
Watching Eric Wood chase Myron Pryor was tough to stomach. The man deserves better, much, much better.
I've thought for a while that his long release would be what keeps Hunter Cantwell from being one of the top five quarterbacks selected in the NFL Draft, but it might end up being what keeps him from having successful season in his lone campaign as a full-time starter. That half-a-second between when Cantwell decided to throw the ball and when it actually left his hand allowed defensive backs to jump routes and defensive linemen to time their pass-swatting jumps perfectly.
Where have you gone, Arthur Carmody? Card nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
There's no point in not coming out with it: at this moment, I have zero faith in Steve Kragthorpe's ability to "right the ship." What reason has he given me to feel otherwise? After a season loaded with disastrous on-field performances followed by maddening postgame press conferences filled with tired cliches and zero answers, we've started 2008 with a disastrous on-field performance followed by a maddening postgame press conference filled with tired cliches and zero answers.
I really, really want to believe that this program can be successful with Kragthorpe at the helm in 2012 or 2013, but you don't need blue chip talent to avoid all the unforgivable mistakes that his teams have made over the past 13 games. And come to think of it, he had blue chip talent a year ago and his team couldn't avoid unforgivable mistake after unforgivable mistake.
Again, I won't let this site devolve to the point where people are focusing more on getting the head coach fired than supporting the team, but criticism is warranted, and don't let anybody tell you it isn't. But also don't let anybody tell you that it's against the best interest of the program to cheer for Louisville with every inch of your being each time the Cards take the field over the next few months.