There's certainly a risk of overreacting to a single game as an indictment of a team, a season or a program. That said, Saturday night was revealing.
Clemson's depth on both sides of the ball and incredible strength on the offensive and defensive lines should be a wake-up call for the team. Louisville was a possession away from beating Clemson the last three seasons. Saturday night? Clemson took control in the second half.
This is not a Clemson web site. Heaping praise on them doesn't come naturally, but the Tigers are the defending National Champions and they've only lost one ACC Atlantic game since late October, 2013.
To put it simply: Clemson has the trophy. They made it to the mountain top where Bobby Petrino and the Louisville Cardinals want to be.
So what does Saturday night mean for Louisville?
To me, the next step is clear: Get back to work.
Get back to work... on the practice field because the season isn't over, there is still a LOT of football to be played and Louisville still has a ton to play for.
And what else? What are the next steps beyond the simply "back to work"?
Get back to work... tightening up on defense.
Get back to work... continuing to mature on the offensive line. The young linemen Robbie Bell and Mekhi Becton didn't grade out too bad against Clemson, but the line needs to become more cohesive and push defenses off the line in the run game.
Get back to work... building depth on defense. Petrino said he wants to see young players get reps in practice and work their way into meaningful snaps. That starts Saturday vs. Kent State.
And the coaching staff is already working on the last one...
Louisville must recruit like crazy. Good coaches and good coaches, but good coaches typically also are called good coaches because they have really good players. Louisville must recruit like Clemson to combat Clemson in future seasons.
Things are looking up in that area, but Louisville needs to continue making progress.