Leading 30-13 entering the fourth quarter, Scott Satterfield and his coaching staff once again pressed on the brakes too hard. This time, the overly conservative approach on both sides of the ball resulted in a gut-wrenching 34-33 loss to Virginia.
Cavalier quarterback Brennan Armstong torched the Cardinals to the tune of 40 completions, 488 passing yards, and three touchdowns. Armstrong’s final blow came in the form of a 1-yard touchdown pass to Grant Misch with 22 seconds remaining that set the game’s final score.
This loss falls solely on the coaches. It’s an old trope, but I can’t really think of a better example of “playing not to lose” than this game. With few exceptions, the defense rushed three players for the majority of the fourth quarter allowing Virginia’s Armstrong to pick Louisville’s secondary apart play after play. This soft and cushiony approach allowed UVA to finish the game 7 of 12 on third and fourth down attempts in the second half. Louisville’s similarly soft approach on offense allowed them to finish 0 for 5.
This game should never have been close, especially after the Cards took the lead and stretched it in the 3rd quarter. But we saw the Cardinals lose its fourth game since last season when they had a lead in the 4th quarter. This loss pushes Louisville to 2-6 in on-possession game since last season.
Put simply, this coaching staff doesn’t know how to finish games.
We saw Louisville try to hand Florida State a victory two weeks ago, and then we saw the defense allow Wake Forest to march down the field with ease to set up their game-winning field goal. This week was no different. With the game on the line and Virginia needing a touchdown, not a field goal, the defense allowed Virginia to take chunk play after chunk play down the field (with no timeouts, mind you) and ultimately score the go ahead touchdown they needed to win.
I’ve been on and off the Satterfield train. Three weeks ago when the Cards beat a tough UCF team in dramatic fashion there was some good energy surrounding this program for the first time in a while. The FSU win didn’t spark a ton of confidence but it allowed the fanbase to dream of bigger opportunities should they beat Wake Forest. We all know how frustrating the Wake game was, especially with the poor officiating, but this loss to a historically bad football program in embarrassing fashion is enough to have fans turn up the heat under Satterfield’s seat.
It’s also time that we give this defense and Bryan Brown the criticism they deserve. This was supposed to be an improved unit and I’ve long been a believer in what Brown is trying to build. But this is Year 3 and we’re still seeing a defense cling on for dear life for the fifth season in a row. What we saw in the fourth quarter was unacceptable and it’s time that Brown give answers for why this defense isn’t where it needs to be.
The worst part about this loss is that Louisville now heads into a bye week, knowing full well they are just a few plays and calls away from being 5-1. Instead, the team and its fans now have to sulk in this defeat for the next two weeks.
Louisville had the win. Louisville needed this win. And they choked it away.
I do believe this team is better than its record, but until they find a way to finish games I have little reason to believe in this coaching staff moving forward. Hopefully the heat and the noise they get over these next few weeks leads to better results.
We’ll see, I guess.