Not often in society do we sympathize for and pity inanimate animals, but the dead horse anyone and everyone associated with Louisville Football continues to beat on a weekly basis has my sincerest of apologies. The Cardinals secured an important victory Saturday afternoon leaving only defensive purists satisfied, but the frustrations felt for 60 minutes were all too familiar. The unforced errors and head scratching decisions continue in 2015, and hopefully Louisville Football is not stuck in neutral because for every two steps forward this team takes, they seem to relish simultaneously taking two steps back.
First and foremost, thank you defense. Any criticism directed towards this team and coaching staff should be exceeded by praise and gratitude to the defensive coaches and players. After being embarrassed by Florida State in the second half and having their work ethic and effort questioned, the defense responded by putting on a steel wall performance. The Cardinals essentially shut out Boston College and saved the day on multiple occasions through the fourth quarter. 79 yards of total offense, a fumble returned for a touchdown, and beautiful team tackling. This group is too talented and has too much pride to roll over, and when effort and hustle are utilized, the Cardinal defense will continue to play up to expectations.
The defense took two major steps forward Saturday, can they remain consistent and annihilate the Demon Deacons?
Coach Petrino's young guns on offense are learning on the fly and left Tallahassee with confidence and compliments. After escaping against Boston College, Louisville's offense was sent to jail, did not pass go, and did not collect $200. Penalties, senseless turnovers, failure to score points after crossing into field goal range ... ohhhhh the horror.
Boston College has great defense, but with all due respect to the Eagles (which according to Ricky Bobby means I can say whatever I want now) they aren't the 85' Bears or the steel curtain from Pittsburgh. A defense doesn't force false starts or holding penalties, defenses expect to be blocked when pursuing the quarterback, and they don't throw poorly timed jump balls to the end zone. Louisville's offense simply enjoyed inflicting agony Saturday, please make it stop.
The Cardinals rank 68th in the country in penalties and have been flagged 48 times, averaging roughly seven per game. Of those 48 penalties, 29 of them have been for false starts, holding or illegal block, and ineligible man downfield. A few of the false starts were on a receiver, but over 20 of these infractions were committed by a member of the offensive line. I know they are young, inexperienced, rotating, and learning different quarterbacks, but their consistent love affair with the color yellow needs to end, yesterday. As I previously explained, poor recruiting created this mess, and it is still too early to evaluate Klenakis, but the discipline and fundamentals always exemplified by Bobby Petrino teams are sorely lacking from this group.
Saturday's game was infuriating because of the glimpses of excitement the offense offered, followed immediately by immature mistakes. Louisville's offense ventured into field goal range four times Saturday without scoring a point. Coach Petrino knows this is unacceptable and these growing pains are becoming all too painful.
However, there were bright spots. Several of Lamar's completions were perfection, and I don't think Louisville has had a quarterback since Redman with this kind of arm strength. Jackson's pass to Staples was in the air for 56 yards, he's 18 years old. If you aren't 100% behind Lamar, please go cheer for another team, the kid is special. Reggie Bonnafon has separated himself as the best running back option and a clutch receiver. I believe we will all enjoy watching these two terrorize defenses for the next two and a half seasons. Staples and Javonte Bagley played well on the outside and Louisville's deep receiving group continues to improve. The pieces are there, minus the offensive line, but these youthful talents have to learn the value of each play, each possession, and the football.
We hear it every year, from every coach, but it has never been truer than with these Cardinal Ciddos. It is time for Louisville to put together a solid 60 minutes with limited mistakes, and on both sides of the ball. Louisville may be younger and considerably less mature than any of its remaining opponents, but I'd argue we are more talented than all of them. An 8-4 regular season would be considered a major success for this group and it is an achievable goal, but the Cardinals have to stop looking back after every leap forward. Beat Wake!
All Hail UofL !!