Not sure there’s ever been a more perfect example of “a tale of two halves”. We saw Louisville beat down and run over the Hoosiers in the first half to the tune of 21-0 and 302 total yards to 107. Cardinal fans were understandably feeling very chesty going into the half and it looked quite obvious why Indiana was cowering out of the two remaining games in the series. Louisville didn’t punt a single time, were averaging 9.4 yards per play, with an eyepopping 25.3 yards per completion.
But then something changed at the half, that was the opposite of what we saw against Georgia Tech. Was it that Tom Allen changed his shirt? Was it that my family decided to watch the second half out on the patio despite my pleas that everything was going so well indoors? Or was it simply that Indiana made the better adjustments this time and that Louisville whiffed?
We saw IU come out and successfully convert an onside kick, which was an obvious sign of desperation on their part, but the 30-yard strike to do-it-all player Jaylin Lucas quickly silenced the UofL heavy crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The ensuing Louisville drive looked like the Cards were picking up where they left off in the first half when Plummer delivered his best ball of the day to Jamari Thrash for a 43-yard touchdown, but a holding penalty brought the play back and the offense stalled. Then on the next Louisville possession the offense was moving again until a Plummer bomb bounced off the chest of Coleman deep in Hoosier territory right into the hands of IU’s secondary for an untimely pick.
Indiana would march down the field on a frustrating, but impressive 97-yard touchdown drive to cut the score to 21-14 and really turn up the heat in the game. Louisville received the ball in a must-score situation only to stall out after a questionable trick play got snuffed out for an 8-yard loss to put Louisville in 2nd-and-18. After receiving the ball at the Louisville 10, Indiana would march back down the field, with the help of some questionable penalties, to get all the way down to Louisville’s 7-yard line. On the second biggest play of the game, an IU 3rd-and-goal from the Louisville 8, Tayven Jackson scrambled and dove to the pylon but was marked down at the half-yard line to bring up an enormous 4th-and-goal.
I think just about everyone in the building expected a QB sneak, but what we got was.....this....
If I’m an IU fan I am sick over this, but luckily this was an awful play call that the defense had no trouble disposing of.
Louisville would proceed to bleed the clock and ice the game to finish out their scoreless half but take the win.
There’s a lot to digest from this game over the next week. But man, what a disappointing performance in the second half. Getting shutout and beat 250-yards to 120 was not something anyone could have expected after it looked like IU had no answer for the Cards in the first half.
I shudder to think what would have happened had Indiana scored and gone for 2 to take the lead 22-21 with the way our offense was sputtering and the way Brock Travelstead had struggled all game.
Once again Jack Plummer seemed to be late on his decision making and had plenty of throws that were either behind his receivers or just into the dirt. It feels inevitable that if this doesn’t get cleaned up that it’s going to cost us against a more formidable opponent.
Speaking of the opponent, as much as I’d like to poke fun at IU the way we were in the first half and in light of their decision to wimp out of the rest of this series, credit is due to the way they got their offense going with quick hitters underneath in the second half and just plain getting the ball to their best player, Lucas. They seized the momentum right away in the second half and didn’t let go until they ran out of time. Props to them.
For the Cards, the defense needed to do a better job of getting home on pass rushes and not letting Tayven Jackson pick them apart. The offense just seemed plagued by their own mistakes when it came to big drops on big plays and just poorly thrown balls. But the special teams was what continues to stand out to me as Travelstead struggled all game and they game IU multiple opportunities to get back in the game. That can’t happen.
At least the players seem dissatisfied:
Cards players can be heard walking to the locker room “Why the f*#! Do we do that to ourselves”— Tayler Lynch (@TaylerLynch) September 16, 2023
We said it after the Georgia Tech game, and I hope we don’t have to say it many more times, but it’s good to fix your mistakes after a win. Hopefully we can take another step forward and take care of business as we get into conference play this week.
Enjoy the rest of your Saturday and the Cards being 3-0 for the first time since Lamar Jackson was wearing Cardinal Red.