It was a beautiful day at Doak Campbell Stadium for Louisville vs. Florida State. The Cards were coming off a BYE & a win on the road vs. NC State and would be playing a highly ranked divisional opponent that is rich in tradition……….and after the game Bobby Petrino, Players, Writers, Radio Hosts, Fans, and even Sportscenter was talking about Louisville’s effort.
After a half where UofL led Florida State 7-6 and allowed 0 net rushing yardage to the Noles, Dalvin Cook got the “5 Touchdown Half” started with a 54-yard rush in which several Louisville defenders gave less than desirable effort. Because this play had such an impact let’s take a CLOSE look at it:
First Devonte Fields is in GROSS position and then is unable to rotate his hips which gives Dalvin Cook the edge. A beaten Fields then gives up on the play and you can see his leisurely stroll behind the play throughout the TD. Trumaine Washington then misses an opportunity coming off a block to make a tackle & at the same time Keith Kelsey is the victim of a Dalvin Cook cut….it looked like Kelsey might be the only person interested in tackling on this play. Trumaine instead goes downfield rather than hitting Cook at the same time of Kelsey. Chucky Williams also made contact but Cook ran out of that too. Later Trumaine Washington was in the play but this time Washington tried to strip Cook and essentially threw a block on Sheldon Rankins while in the way. Trumaine attempted to chase down Dalvin and Shaq Wiggins was happy to run to the back of the endzone for some reason.
In a nutshell, that’s SOFT. It’s not Louisville Defense. It displays a lack of focus & pride. It’s certainly not tough and with an offense that is playing a HOST of freshman on the road against a Top 10 team, that type of lazy effort is what gets you beat. For Louisville it’s where they unraveled. But it didn’t have to be. That young Louisville offense answered the call put together a 5 play 87 yard scoring drive and took back the lead at 14-13.
But on the 3rd play of the next drive (on 3rd down) Everett Golson found Kermit Whitfield behind Shaq Wiggins for a 70-yard score…….no one was close to Kermit.
When the Cards got the ball back trailing 20-14, UofL’s young offense put together two 1st downs….and then did a freshman thing, as you’d expect, when Lamar Jackson failed to read a corner blitz and took a shot directly into his ribs dislodging the ball and giving the Noles the ball in its own territory.
Two plays after the Lamar Jackson fumble Keith Brown was ejected for targeting. A play later Dalvin Cook was back in the endzone making the score 27-14. A play after that Lamar Jackson threw an INT, which turned into a Travis Rudolph TD to begin the 4th quarter and pushed the score to a daunting 34-14.
To recap. The Louisville Defense in 7 plays during the 3rd Quarter allowed 165 yards and 3 Touchdowns and had Keith Brown ejected. The offense also had 2 turnovers on consecutive plays and the final one started a defeated series for the Louisville Defense who allowed a 13-play, 83-yard Touchdown drive that ended at the beginning of the 4th quarter.
It all started with one play. Lackluster tackling and effort steamrolled itself and broke the mental discipline of the Louisville defense and put pressure on the young Cardinal offense……and they cracked. All of them.
Losing to Florida State is not a problem. Fans didn’t expect to come down here and win. But fans did expect to see a much better effort, much better mental toughness and pride in being a Louisville Football team by picking each other up and playing the next play. The Cards couldn’t put plays behind them and it avalanched into a 20-point loss that was ultimately lost in a 7 defensive play period.
The Cards now must move on quickly and prepare for another tough defense (Boston College) in UofL’s first home game in nearly a month. Can Louisville put the past behind them and rally to save their season? If the Louisville team that played the 1st half vs. FSU shows up, yes. If the 3rd quarter Cardinals show up??? Louisville may miss a bowl if the 3rd Q Cards take the field vs. BC.