After another 7-6 season, one that at this point I will gladly accept, the Louisville Cardinals are getting back from the Belk Bowl after a crushing 31-24 loss. After the wheels appeared to be coming off early in the second half, the Cards made a comeback but came up just short.
We'll start with the good from the game.
Heart- No doubt about it, each and every one of these players has some true heart, maybe not as much as the basketball team, but regardless, after being manhandled to say the least early on, the entire team bounced back and almost pulled victory out of the jaws of defeat.
Teddy Bridgewater - A turnover and a sack that was basically a turnover with no return did not faze him. He did look a little bit rattled in the second half but calmed down and and really did well against the NC State defense. With the amount of hits that he took ( we should have gotten roughing on a few of them ), the fact that he stayed in the game hurt, and perormed the way he did deserves a say.
Josh Bleser - The kicks weren't pretty, but he pinned the Pack inside their own fifteen twice, and he executed the first onside kick perfectly. I thought the second was also very gettable, but NC State may have seen tape of Bleser's kicks. He loves to hit that dribbler right up the middle. It worked against Pitt, but has not most other times. Two very nice kicks though. Nice way for a senior to exit.
Victor Anderson - Brings back memories to freshman Vic, the way he ran behind the crappy offensive line and made cut after great cut and turned the plays up the field. Best of luck to him as he moves on.
Special Teams- We got basically a blocked kick, an onside kick recovery, a field goal, 60 yard kick return, and a faked punt. Great playcalling on special teams, whoever does call the plays for that area of the team.
Now for the bad...
Playcalling- A dive on 4th and 1 has not worked in the 1st quarter, did not work in the 2nd nor the third, and we run it on a drive where, out of the last three, was either the best or second best opportunity to score. Play action would catch them off guard and could pick up a big gain. Add in that we ran some really conservative plays at some really bad times, and that was a recipe for disaster.
Defensive Backs- Give them credit for really coming back strong in the second half, but they got Hilton'd in the first half, there's just no way around it, they did very poorly in the tackling department, and when TJ Graham put NC State up 21-10, I really, really thought that it resembled the second TY Hilton touchdown, except this one was worse because we missed 3 tackles and a fourth guy could have saved the touchdown. The unit definitely stepped up in the second half.
Defensive Line- These guys, who were probably the only guys who could stop Glennon in the first half with the DBs making him look like Brett Favre, were absolutely nonexistent on passing plays. I don't thin we had more than one or two sacks. The thing that ticked me off, as one commentor pointed out in the open thread, is that there was seriously a lack of effort in trying to get to the quarterack. There was no one bullrushing, or spining, ripping, or swimming to get to the QB. It was like they were basically occupying linemen.
1st half defensive coaching- Not a fan of what we were doing when they were at first hurting us with intermediate throws- blitzing. That means those TEs are going to be open and we played quite a bit of man coverage at bad times, especially with recievers going through the middle of the field. Did well later on though.
And finally, the Kragthorpian.
Refs - I don't think there was any bias, but that was one of the worst shows of incompetence that I have ever seen. Let's count the amazing calls by the refs.
- Preston Brown personal foul. Totally got hosed here. Preston was holding the guy up, and usually, personal fouls are when someone maliciously lights you up. Cost us three points.
- I thought they could have called a few roughing the passers on NC State. Those were some malicious hits. Felt like watching the VIkings-Saints game in the NFC Championship where the refs and his offensive line just allowed Brett Favre to be abused the whole game. Same happened here.
- At least two missed pass interference calls that were blatent.
- Saying that Ted stepped OUT OF BOUNDS on the second down play on our second to last drive. He was not out, the refs did not review, and DID NOT STOP THE CLOCK! How stupid to you have to be to not notice that? If he was out (he wasn't) he would have been out under his own power (he was rolling out for God's sakes), he was not pulled backwards, tackled out, or pulled down. Cost us 12 yards and over a minute of time.
I mean, refs weren't why we lost, but they were AWFUL. Really disappointed that this is the bitter taste that stays around for another nine months, because I know that we are a better team than that. Regardless, go Cards, beat UK in basketball and the next football game.