The fan reaction to Louisville’s loss to Clemson Saturday has spanned the gamut from ‘fire someone’ to ‘this team will get better’. With memories of the Florida State and Texas A&M wins, I’m definitely of the latter persuasion.
Louisville has one of the best coaches in the country according to many in the ‘chattering’ (media) class and it’s foolish to even entertain such an idea as making a change. Petrino is the winningest coach ever at Louisville and has competed in the toughest division in college football since joining the ACC.
Petrino is committed to stay and has taken roots in our city. Actually fans couldn’t ask for a better situation. It’s only a matter of time until the Cards break through and win their division. The impressive win over Florida State last season was an indication that UofL can compete in the ACC. One lopsided loss to Clemson shouldn’t deter fans from the dream of a national championship.
Speaking of Clemson, what about that loss? After watching the replay the Cards appear to be more a victim of mental defeat than physical. UofL didn’t execute early and Clemson did. Jackson was errant in his throws and receivers dropped passes. A team has to be at the top of their game against the defending national champions and the Cards were not.
Louisville was greatly improved in two areas: zero fumbles and only four penalties. Unfortunately those penalties were devastating. One erased a 48-yard gain by Jackson putting the Cards inside the 10 and another a holding call that stopped a drive in the second quarter. Those two calls cost the Cards 68 yards of offense.
The problem for Louisville in the first half was the inability to sustain a drive. The time of possession on each series in the first half for UofL was 1:20, :52, :1:58, 1:24, 1:30, 1:26, :49 and :28; hardly enough time for the defense to get needed rest.
As bad as the score would indicate, Louisville appeared to start the 3rd quarter with renewed vigor after failing to execute in the first half. After stopping Clemson on the first drive of the third quarter Louisville moved the ball to inside the 10-yard line but a penalty erased that drive and two plays later an interception for a TD deflated the team and the fans. That was the game.
Did the Clemson loss end the potential for a successful season? Hardly.
UofL finished with 433 yards of total offense against what many consider the best defense in the country. Lamar was sacked five times but most of those were ‘coverage’ sacks and not a breakdown by the offensive line. The two running backs averaged 5.6 yards per carry. Auburns star running back Kamryn Pettway averaged 3.5 against the Tigers.
No one expected UofL to go undefeated this season, and a loss to perhaps the best team in the country is not an indication of games in the future.