Many have said that ever since Satterfield flirted with South Carolina that the only way he could win the fanbase back is buy winning games.
Well, I’ve got bad news for Satterfield.
We knew the front half of the schedule this season was going to be tough. My biggest fear was that if Louisville didn’t perform well against Ole Miss that the fan base could get overly impatient. I had no idea that Louisville would have a first half from hell that would set the entire fanbase on fire.
The complete egg that was laid in the first half may come back to haunt Satterfield for a long time. The performance kicked an already pissed off fanbase into overdrive, and if the Cardinals don’t come out of the first half of this schedule, which includes games against a fiery Central Florida offense, a Florida State team that appears to be trending upwards for the first time in years, and well-coached teams in Wake Forest, Virginia, and Boston College, at least 3-3, then there will be fans calling for Satterfield’s head if they’re not already (they are).
I’m going to leave it up to guy’s like Keith Wynne, who are much smarter than I am especially when it comes to x’s and o’s, to breakdown exactly what went so wrong over the next few days. Instead, I’m going to examine this game from the 30,000-foot level.
We first have to talk about the first half and I can’t think of a better summary than this:
That’s pretty much it, folks.
Just an all out system’s failure on offense.
The offensive line was extremely disappointing, especially considering what we’d heard from coaches this offseason in things like new o-line coach saying this was one of the best lines he’d ever coached. The o-line’s poor performance in the first half caused everything else to crumble. The run game that the offense relies so heavily on to set things up, was non-existent. The young group of receivers weren’t given the time they needed to break open. And Malik wasn’t able to progress through his reads properly.
Malik getting significant pressure from three rushers is extremely bad news if you’re looking to have any semblance of success this offseason.
I don’t mean to pile on the o-line as the first half performance does not fall solely on their shoulders. Each of the issues I mentioned above were problems in and of themselves, but were compounded by poor line play.
But worst of all, and what I think has fans fuming, is the unimaginative play calling we saw in that first half. Running the ball on 2nd-and-long is going to piss any fanbase off (and it did!), but the sequence where Louisville ran four running plays in a row, with the final one on 4th-and-long being a QB sweep was mindboggling and disheartening.
As for the defense, it’s hard to have a lot of positives when you just saw them allow 569 total yards, 43 points, and have no turnovers. BUT! I don’t think any of us expected this unit to show their improvement against this Ole Miss offense. The fact that they were able to keep Ole Miss from scoring a billion points in the first half despite getting zero help from the offense was a small victory.
As Keith pointed out, I think the backbreaker for the defense was losing Monty Montgomery early on to a targeting call. As soon as he left the game Ole Miss went at Okeke, who replaced him, three plays in-a-row, with the final play being a six-yard TD scramble from Corral.
Ole Miss wouldn’t relent from this attack all night as they continued to exploit Louisville’s inside linebackers and get medium-sized gains consistently. Having Monty there probably wouldn’t have saved Louisville completely, but he certainly would have made things more difficult for a Rebel’s offense that felt little resistance most of the night.
With all that considered, here’s how the first half concluded:
Louisville trails Mississippi 26-0 for its 4th largest halftime shutout deficit in the past 25 seasons.— Kelly Dickey (@RealCardGame) September 7, 2021
Trailed Rutgers 49-0 on Dec. 4, 2008.
Trailed Houston 31-0 on Nov. 17, 2016.
Trailed Alabama 28-0 on Sept. 1, 2018.
As for whatever positives you can take from this...
Keith said the following late in the first half:
If all they are giving you is 4-6 yard passes that's what you take. The goal of the run game is to force the defense into the box. You can achieve that with the pass too.— Keith Wynne (@Keith_Wynne) September 7, 2021
It appears this message was received during halftime as the offense looked completely different in the second half. They consistently got the ball to receivers between 5 and 15 yards, which in turn allowed the run game to open up.
What we saw from the offense in the second half is what most of us expected to see for the entire game. An offense that wasn’t necessarily able to put up points at a breakneck pace, but was still able to put up enough points to keep things close. If the offense and the play calling perform like that in the first half as well then we may be having a very different conversation tonight.
There’s still so much to digest from tonight, including the many what-ifs. The poor blocking on the trick pass, the fumble on the option play, the complete shellacking UofL took on national tv which will likely be the lasting impression of this year’s team for most college football fans, are all things that completely suck and are going to keep me up at night.
But where I can take a sliver of positivity are
- The defense didn’t look Peter Sirmon or BVG-bad, even against an outrageously fast and talented offense. I’m interested to see what they can do against even an above-average offense.
- The offense appeared to figure some things out as the game went on. That needs to continue.
- Lastly, and most importantly, the team never quit. There were so many points in this game that the team could have mailed it in like the 2018 team did, hell most fans did, but they played through the final whistle and showed signs of life even when the game was well out of reach. I don’t agree with a lot of things Kirk Herbstreit says, but I think he’s absolutely right that it was encouraging to see the players play through the adversity and hopefully it makes them better for it in the long run.
I have no idea where this season could take us. The schedule doesn’t offer much room for another performance like this. So the adjustments and fixes need to happen ASAP or else we could be in for a long season.
The next 11 days will be very telling.
Please, football gods, give us something good.