This is why Louisville took a second chance on Bobby Petrino. It was these games like this Saturday against Clemson, in Death Valley.
“These are the moments that you like to have,” Bobby Petrino explained. “These are the places you like to go play. It’s exciting.”
It’s perhaps the most meaningful game that Louisville has played in over a year. You could even argue that it was bigger than any game the Cardinals played in 2013. Though Clemson is just narrowly a Top 25 team – 25th in fact – a win against the Tigers changes everything.
With a win Louisville gives themselves a chance. A chance to make an ACC Championship, a chance to make that Halloween week Florida State game mean everything. Without the win, the hype draws down.
Louisville needs Bobby Petrino to provide what he was hired for – his offense.
The Louisville defense is good, so good that it’s ranked currently number one in the nation in total defense. That said, they haven’t seen a player like Deshaun Watson nor an offense like Clemson. The Tigers are leading the Country in plays over 10 yards. I believe the Louisville defense is legit and may truly fit the bill as the best in the country, but that does not matter yet. The Cards are bound to at least break on a few plays and you’d expect Clemson to capitalize.
Name a score that the Tigers have put up this season. Even look at their lowest output of 17 points against number one Florida State. Maybe that’s what Louisville has to beat. Maybe more, maybe a little less given that their defense may in fact be better than Florida State.
That’s the magical number for Bobby Petrino to top. It seems weird to write that sentence. It seems weird to question whether a Petrino offense was capable of scoring 17 points against a top tier defense – in the olden days, he’d have solved that mystery in the first quarter. But this is the problem that Louisville is faced with: Can their offense help their defense?
It’s the most lingering question within this team and it’s one that will be answered.
The Louisville offensive line has had stretches where they were good for two plays and bad for the next ten. Can it give its quarterback time to make a play? Clemson’s Vic Beasley will find out.
Corvin Lamb, the fastest player on the team, has touched the ball precisely once this season. Is Petrino holding something back for the second part of the season? Could a package incorporating Corvin Lamb factor in to that? We’ll soon have a clearer picture.
Bobby Petrino seemed rather at ease at his Monday press conference, accepting of the Louisville team skill set – it’s strengths and it’s weaknesses – a whole ‘this is who we are’ approach. Is the team we’ve seen in six games capable of winning in Death Valley?
Devante Parker, perhaps the #1 Wide Receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft, is back on the field and possibly even back into shape. Is Parker capable of coming on to field and making an immediate impact after sitting out six weeks? I think he is, perhaps the most pressing question: Does he have a quarterback that can get the ball to him?
These problems aren’t exactly fair for Petrino to have. These aren’t exactly Petrino players. They aren’t problems that have been created by him, either. But Petrino has mastered essentially every offense he’s been in charge off, even with ones that had problems that weren’t created by him. Ask Western Kentucky.
When Bobby Petrino was hired at the University of Louisville it was to win these games, it was to wow his opponents with offensive magic. Can he solve this Louisville offense enough to put up 17+ points? To do it whatever it takes to win in Death Valley? We’ll soon get an answer.
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