Every year Louisville Football throws in what I call ‘a stinker’. It’s a game where Cardinal fans don’t recognize their team. That was last night.
Houston deserves a lot of credit. Ed Oliver, Greg Ward, Jr., Duke Catalon, and Tom Herman brought their ‘A’ game. The atmosphere in Houston is very healthy for football. The support the students provide, the quality of the Cougar’s stadium…. it’s all top notch and there is little reason why this school shouldn’t be in the Power 5.
BUT!!!!!! That wasn’t Louisville Football. That’s not the team that the nation collectively voted to be a Top 5 team. That wasn’t the focus that we saw in September vs. Florida State or even the team that got punched in the mouth and rallied vs. Clemson only to fall short. There is a difference between losing and getting smashed and it’s entirely about PRIDE.
Watching the game from the sideline, the Cards were bickering among themselves, hanging their heads and the frustration built on itself. It’s mid-November and this Football season that began in August Camp has taken its toll. There has been national excitement and disrespect…… but that doesn’t have anything to do with the game.
There is also something to be said about the state of Houston who has waited since it’s season opening game vs. Oklahoma to play another national power. Several Cougars described Thursday Night’s match-up as Houston’s ‘Super Bowl’. Think back to when Louisville was in this situation in Conference USA and had an opportunity to line up against a team from a Power Conference…. it was all hands on deck and the excitement level was through the roof. That’s what happened in Houston Thursday night. It was the largest crowd in stadium history and the largest home crowd since UH played a ‘home game’ in the Astrodome vs. Texas in 1991. The Cougars were amped.
Louisville on the other hand just finished ACC play and coming off a short week had to travel down to Houston. Additionally the coaching staff had to deal with the distraction of fellow league member Wake Forest accusing the Cards of obtaining their scouting report in the media. What does any of this have to do with Football? Nothing. And that’s the point. There is a lot going on with the Cardinal Football program that doesn’t have anything to do with what happens between the lines.
So let’s get to that:
Louisville Football now has 28 fumbles on the year. 20 of those fumbles have been lost. This is a historically high number. 20 Lost Fumbles is the most by a single team in college football since 2012(!) and the Cards have two more games to play!
Bobby Petrino lamented the Cards lack of ball security after the game on Thursday Night and even seemed baffled by the phenomenon as he claims to have worked more on ball security this season than any other that he has been a coach.
No team, even the #1 offense with a Heisman Trophy Quarterback can sustain winning with fumbles at this rate.
With the way Louisville fumbles the ball and at the rate Houston forces fumbles….this was a recipe for disaster and that’s what we got.
16 penalties. SIXTEEN.
Many of these penalties negated big plays that the Cards needed to change the momentum.
Penalties happen. 16 penalties is a lack of focus. Khalil Hunter fell down backwards for a False Start, without being touched.
There really isn’t anything more to say.
Houston had 25 sacks going into Thursday Night and were #36 in the nation at getting sacks. After getting ELEVEN (11!) Sacks against the Cards, the Cougars are now #4 in the country at getting to the Quarterback.
11 sacks is embarrassing at any level. Lamar Jackson was on the run all night and never hit the back of his drop clean.
No one on the Louisville Offensive Line played well.
Starting the game with a fumble is just one play. But the domino effect is real when things don’t begin well for Cardinal Football.
A Football game is a long ordeal. Not everything is going to go a team’s way. Especially on the road. Players get hurt, turnovers, sacks, and penalties happen. But you can’t let one negative occurrence turn into another. And that’s what happened.
Some times Offensive Pass Interference isn’t called and the ball bounces off a defender and right into the hands of a receiver in the endzone for Touchdown.
What can’t happen is players & coaches yelling at each other. Players leaving the huddle groups on the sideline or frustration building that the momentum can’t be regained.
What can’t happen is having your team quit. In the 2nd quarter Louisville quit and the avalanche was too much to overcome.
If there is one positive to take from Thursday Night it’s that the Cards came out after halftime and began to inject some positive energy before another mistake halted any momentum UofL had building.
SUM THIS ONE UP
Houston was ready. Louisville wasn’t. The UH wide receivers broke on the ball better than any group against the Cards all year. Ed Oliver was the most disruptive defensive force UofL has had to deal with all season. Tom Herman’s defense brought the same type of pressure that Marshall did earlier this season with better athletes and better results.
3 Turnovers +11 sacks +16 penalties = a complete lack of focus & execution.
Louisville missed the biggest opportunity in school history to compete for a National Championship AGAIN on a Thursday Night. Houston was up for the challenge and the Cards folded.
This was Louisville @ South Florida in 2005 with a lot more on the line.