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Cards Fall Short: Virginia Tech 42 - Louisville 35

That could have been a lot worse

NCAA Football: Music City Bowl-Mississippi State vs Louisville Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin: 8 players out. Cancelled game.

Louisville: 9 players out. Played anyways.

My opinion on whether they should have played or not doesn’t matter because we played anyways. The fact is this game was played anyways and was somehow way closer than I could have ever imagined.

When Virginia Tech got out to a 21-0 lead in the first half with seemingly little to no effort, I was less than surprised. I was frustrated and confused as to why we were playing the game at all.

But to lose six starters, both levels of your defensive line, and to still make a game out of this is beyond impressive. Miss me forever with hate on Bryan Brown. What he pulled out of his ass today with virtually his entire defensive front missing is impressive no matter how you look at it.

And then when you factor in a very questionable personal foul penalty on a pivotal down late in the game, as well as a back breaking delay of game penalty after an onside recovery, and you can’t help but feel the odds were never in your favor. Still, the game should have never been this close, and I guess we should take that away as a positive.

Knowing everything we know now and sitting back and looking at the result of the game, it’s really hard to process whatever the hell we just saw. There were quite a few highs and more than a few lows. But I think our deputy editor, Keith Wynne, summed it up best:

That’s it. That’s the story.

What I feel more than anything was that had we had even close to a full team we would have had a good chance of winning this game. That’s the good news and that should be encouraging moving forward after the efforts we’ve seen from this team the last three games.

One thing from this game that irks me and is going to bother me for the next week was how unimaginative the play calling was in the first and third quarters. Once again, we were running the ball on second-and-longs and were more than predictable on critical downs. There was a series in the first half when we ran back to back running plays with Hawkins in the redzone and got absolutely stuffed. It was far too predictable and uninspiring.

However, in the second and fourth quarters the offense came alive as the offense started spreading the defense and taking advantage. This led to a couple of huge explosive plays that got us back into the game. The biggest boom play had to have been Hawkins’ 90-yard rushing touchdown as the first half expired, which according to Kelley Dickey, was the longest rush by a Louisville player since 1971.

Javian Hawkins is awesome. We need to enjoy the hell out of him while he’s still here.

Seeing the play calling work like this and help us claw back into a game that should have been a forgone conclusion helps ease my fears that last week’s offense was fools gold. The offense is outstanding when the players are in the right position and the right calls are made. We have to see this going forward.

All in all, this game is just another one you can add to the list of Pitt and Notre Dame as games that we should have had. These are the hardest losses to stomach, but of the three I think this is the easiest to make excuses for.

Hopefully we can get everyone healthy and ready for what looks like a much more manageable back half of the schedule so we can stop making excuses for ourselves and saying “shoulda, woulda, coulda.”

Until next time...

Go Cards. Beat Virginia.

EDIT: Turns out Louisville found out this morning that they were going to be without the players that missed today. Hell of an effort, disappointing result.