78 points, 1075 yards, 8 turnovers and 1,000,000 decibels of noise……and the game came down to a single yard on 4th down inside the 5-yard line.
How many teams can go into Death Valley trail 28-10 at halftime and take the lead in the 4th quarter?
Losing to Clemson the #5 team in the nation, by 6 IN Death Valley on a 4th down play inside the 5-yard line by a single yard doesn’t end your season & it doesn’t change what type of team Louisville is.
That kind of loss makes you question everything that happened throughout the game. Fans, analysts and everyone that watched the game will focus on the final play to James Quick. Should James Quick have more awareness? Should James ‘sell out’ & stretch? Should he dive for every inch in an attempt to ‘leave it out there on the field’? Yes he should & Quick most assuredly knows that. But just like in 2014 when James Quick was caught from behind in the open field by Clemson in the game’s final minute….the Cards wouldn’t be in that position with James Quick.
What about Brandon Radcliff’s fumble? What about the false starts & pre-snap penaties? What about Jamari Staples taking off his helmet after not getting pass interference called (it should have been called)? What about the lack of Pass Interference love for the Cardinals with a lot of visual evidence throughout the game? What about Tobijah Hughley snapping the ball off Lamar Jackson’s facemask? What about the Cards losing composure in the 2nd quarter? What about Josh Harvey-Clemons overall trouble containing Jordan Leggett? What about the chokehold? What about containing a kickoff after taking a firm hold on the game?
When the game comes down to a single yard….people will focus on the final play and they’ll agonize over the missed opportunities. It’ll drive a true fan insane. Those single plays may decide an outcome of a game…..but they don’t change the outcome or overall make-up of who Louisville Football is in 2016. What I saw at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, SC was a resilient team who was facing an elite challenge with an elite crowd that lost itself for in the 2nd quarter & in the game’s final moments to make enough mistakes to lose one of the biggest opportunities in program history.
But let’s say what really happened here. Clemson’s amazing atmosphere and unbelievable crowd pushed the balance of the game into favor of the Tigers in what might otherwise have been a never-ending game between to evenly matched teams. The energy of Death Valley overwhelmed the Cards for a time. Louisville started the game with 3 False Starts in its first two possessions, Lamar Jackson had -9 yards after 3 possessions and all 3 possessions ended in punts……………. Fast Forward to the game’s final series and Louisville facing 4th & 7 and the crowd going absolutely insane and Kiola Mahoni was flagged for a False Start moving the Cards back to 4th & 12. The next play Lamar Jackson hit James Quick and Quick came up a yard short. That final penalty set the Cards back and changed the game. How Louisville started the game set the tone for the entire 1st half & the Cards never truly settled down and started playing its game to give Lamar Jackson the protection and room to operate the offense.
Louisville had every opportunity to win in Death Valley…… but they made enough mistakes to make sure that they didn’t. Ball security. Awareness. Discipline. Composure. All of it adds up to a final solution and the Cards were able to settle down to make an incredible comeback only to fall short in the end.
Fans, the team, media, national talking heads & James Quick especially can agonize of the game’s final play. But the outcome of that game doesn’t change the fact that Louisville Football in 2016 is a major force to be reckoned with, that James Quick put the Cards in position to win that game and everyone involved played a great game…… Louisville made more mistakes, Clemson made more plays and Death Valley swung the balance into the favor of the Tigers yet again.
There will be another day. There will be chaos in college football and a Selection Committee choosing between 1-loss teams this December might be wise to take a long hard look at a Louisville team that lost by 6, a yard short inside the 5 yard line in Death Valley in THE ENVIRONMENT of the 2016 season. Heads up Cards fans there is a long way to go in this season and Louisville Football is just getting going.
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