After the game Saturday night I wrote my routine game review. Though I was extremely frustrated with what I saw in the first half, I resigned to apathy and whatever-ness. Looking back on what I wrote, I almost wish I would have written the post right after the second quarter ended when my blood was boiling from my frustration with the coaching, the performance on the field, and everything that’s transpired in the athletic department since the “Era of Good Feelings” ended in the Fall of 2017.
Instead, I wrote a post around midnight long after those raw emotions had passed, and I just didn’t really care anymore. I’m a generally optimistic person, and while I try not to be homer in most of my writing, that’s an admittedly impossible task. So instead of lambasting the coaching staff, players, and athletic department as many others have done over the last week or so, and as I would have had I written my review earlier in the day, I tried to focus on the few positives I saw from the game and cling onto those as I looked ahead.
I hit publish. Watched Florida State lose in hilarious fashion to make myself feel a little better. And then I went to bed.
What I woke up to was exactly what I expected: fans were pissed off.
Not necessarily with me, though there were a few, but just about everything. And understandably so. As I perused through some of the comments and saw the raw emotions of fans, a lot of the feelings I had in the first half came back. And over the last few days my feelings about this team have been all over the place, ranging from anger to indifference.
But as the dust from the last two games has begun to settle, and as we look ahead to the game on Friday night, my general feeling towards everything has been less about emotions and more about familiarity.
And that’s what irks me. The familiarity of this season is almost eerie. And it’s eerie because it reminds me of 2018.
In 2018 we were told by Bobby Petrino all summer that his offense sans-Lamar was going to be possibly even better than it was with the Heisman trophy winner. We were told that the defense which struggled mightily under Peter Sirmon was going to bounce back with Brian Van Gorder at the helm.
Those claims, of course, couldn’t have been further from the truth.
In the summer of 2021 we were told by Scott Satterfield that Malik Cunningham was back to the QB we saw in 2019. He said the receivers group had some young talent that we would be blown away by. We were even told by the new offensive line coach, Jack Bicknell, that this was the best college offensive line he had ever coached.
Through two games, and with a few exceptions, most of those claims appear to be untrue.
Then, like 2018, we opened the season with a neutral site game against an SEC opponent that looked to be superior on paper. Obviously there’s an enormous difference between opening your season with Alabama and with Ole Miss, but bear with me for this exercise.
Both games are an ass kicking. Both games appear to leave both the fans and the players not feeling so great.
Then in 2018 Louisville followed up that ass kicking by playing against FCS foe, Indiana State. Even though the game was delayed a few times and it continued to rain throughout the game, which foiled any plans of a passing attack, Louisville fans expected the team’s superior size and talent to bully a team like the Sycamores. That did not happen.
Enter last Saturday night against FCS foe EKU. Satterfield looked committed to establishing the run, and fans expected them to just that against a smaller and inferior Colonels team. That did not happen.
In both games we saw the players play with visibly low amounts of energy and effort, and both games left fans perhaps even more concerned than the beatdowns they’d taken a week earlier.
A few weeks later, in 2018, the crossroads of the season came as Louisville faced off against Florida State at home.
Win, and the season could be saved. Lose, and things may go sideways (spoiler: they did).
The Cardinals came out with some genuine excitement and energy, and they played a tough, spirited game for all four quarters. Louisville appeared to have the game in hand as they were up three with the ball at the Seminoles 21 and the clock running under 2:00. Then Bobby did the unthinkable: he called a pass play. FSU would subsequently intercept the ball and then five plays later score on a 58-yard touchdown pass from Deondre Francois to put Florida State ahead for good.
We all know how the rest of the season went after that.
And that’s why this all feels so eerie to me.
We’ve experienced a summer of unknowns, promises that have come up empty, embarrassing losses to SEC teams at neutral sites, and uninspiring victories over lowly FCS schools. Now we enter what I consider scariest of all: the pivotal home game against a Florida school.
Win, and the fanbase will be rejuvenated and there will be legitimate excitement going forward. But lose, and I’m really scared to find out what could happen.
I’m not afraid to say that this is probably the biggest game of the Scott Satterfield era, and it could likely determine how the rest of this season and his tenure at UofL go.