The numbers I’m about to offer are rarely an adequate barometer.
Plus, in an age of analytics, these additions and subtractions are first grade simplistic.
Yet, given where the University of Louisville football program had fallen, and the aspirations there are for it in the aftermath, these seem a pretty fair measure of the progress so far.
The Cardinals are +26 against the defending national champions. From 16-77 a season ago to 10-45 yesterday.
Baseline: Louisville is still five touchdowns short of parity with the BCS contenders.
* * * * *
During intermission it was surely easy for Cardinal fans to ask What if?
What if U of L had recovered the muffed punt in the endzone and taken a 7-3 lead?
What if Tutu Atwell, scampering free, hadn’t dropped a perfect throw from Evan Conley for a TD, on a drive that ended with a FG?
What if just one of those incredible leaping touchdown catches along the backline of the endzone had bounced off the hands of Joseph Ngata or Justyn Ross? (Ah, athleticism!!!)
Not that it really really mattered. The result was inevitable.
Oh, and how might the Cardinal offense look moving forward, had the Card’s biggest weapon Tutu Atwell broken his neck -- literally -- when he banged his helmet against that table edge along the sideline?
Fans play coulda woulda shoulda because that’s what the faithful do.
Truth is the Cards caught some breaks, or the margin at halftime might have been worse than 3-17. U of L got away with a pass interference on Russ Yeast’s pick. Atwell’s fumble after catch was overturned. And Cardinal arm tackling -- which became epidemic in the second half because of exhaustion -- didn’t lead to too much adversity early on.
* * * * *
Though the Cardinals were still only down by three scores, 24-3, at the end of three, it was obvious that the damn was about to burst.
In the 3d, the Cardinals rushed for only 7 yards, and passed for only 13 yards. Twenty yards total. One first down. Two three and outs.
Lack of depth and lesser talent insinuated itself to ill effect for Louisville.
* * * * *
My original thoughts for this take on the L was to start by talking recruiting.
Clemson won because it has more bodies. More talented bodies. Significantly more athleticism.
Everything Scott Satterfield and his staff have done since arriving on the Belknap Campus from App State, whether its spreading some love to his charges, to the installation of workable offensive and defensive schemes, to he and his assistants literally dusting out and windexing the football facility, convinces me he will get the job done here and restore the Cardinals to national prominence, if . . .
. . . If his recruiting is as excellent as everything that’s been done so far.
So, I wasn’t surprised that said subject came out to finish his post game press conference.
Asked about Clemson’s rise to the top of the college pigskin world and Dabo’s recruiting, Coach Satt replied:
”I don’t know, they have had some top classes, but they have had some of the right guys too. A lot of times that gets overlooked. You’ve got to have the right guys coming into your program from a mentality standpoint. They’ve got to talented, but from a mentality standpoint and how they carry themselves I think that’s extremely important and often gets overlooked in recruiting. But I think we have a good class for next year coming in. Is it a top 15 class? No, but I think we got some good players coming in here and I think over a period of time we’ll be able to out a product on the field that’s going to be very competitive against Clemson? They are the standard right now, they are the national champion, they’ve won 22 straight, that’s where you want to be. And I told our team that. There is no hiding from that. That’s what we want to be. And it takes a lot of work to get that. You take it one day at a time and you work your tail off tomorrow when you come into work. We’ve got to recruit as coaches, we’ve got to get the right ones in here. I think that’s got to be our message every single day. Because there was a time they weren’t that - not too long ago.”
* * * * *
There’s really not a lot more to say about yesterday’s game.
My hopes going in were that U of L showed up and competed, that U of L came out of the game without major injuries, and that the team wouldn’t be demoralized by a loss to Clemson.
We know the answer to the first. This Cardinal contingent plays to the best of their capabilities.
During his comments, Satterfield mentioned how both Micale Cunningham and Evan Conley are dinged up. The extent of Hassan Hall’s leg injury is yet to be determined. And its mid-October, the season has started taking its toll physically, as is the nature of the endeavor.
The third query is still to be answered.
U of L has five games left.
All five are legitimately winnable.
UVa is the task at hand. The Cavaliers are atop the ACC Coastel, and whipped Duke yesterday. But haven’t been overly impressive, losing at Miami.
(Shame on me, for even mentioning the rest of the schedule. I’m a you only play whom you play kind of guy.)
Miami is 3-4, falling at home yesterday to woeful Georgia Tech.
North Carolina State lost by three TDs yesterday at Boston College.
Syracuse is ofer the ACC, dropping one at home to Pitt this weekend.
Rival Kentucky has lost four of its last five.
The depth and breadth of intestinal fortitude of this resurgent Cardinal squad is soon to be revealed.
-- Seedy K