This week there is a word going around the Howard Schellenberger Complex: “Unacceptable”. And if it isn’t it should be. But early Sunday morning Captain Stacy Thomas got things kicked off: “That’s not acceptable…that’s not what we practice & preach every day”.
Bobby Petrino described Lousiville’s effort vs. Clemson: “We got beat in all phases it’s disappointing to me because I felt like we would be in the game and compete.”
There is NOTHING wrong with getting beat by the #3 team in the country. At all. Clemson has beaten Louisville 4 times in a row, they are the defending national champions and they have fantastic coaches & players.
The problem Louisville Football had on Saturday is that the coaches didn’t have a good plan, the coaches didn’t adjust, the players didn’t execute and the entire team compounded mistakes. On National PRIMETIME TELEVISION, For College GameDay……… and then they quit defensively.
So let’s start with the defense.
613 yards is the 9th most yards allowed by a Louisville Football team in its history:
801 Kentucky 1998
779 Murray State 1932
671 Rutgers 2008
671 Houston 1985
659 Memphis 1969
623 Indiana 1985
619 Wyoming 1988
615 FSU 1982
613 Clemson 2017
613 Marshall 1998
603 Memphis 2004
603 Vanderbilt 1974
It’s just the 9th worst performance in school history. The worst in a decade. The worst under Petrino. The 3rd worst in Papa John’s Stadium history.
Clemson started a Quarterback making his first start ever on the road. And Peter Sirmon’s play-calling allowed Kelly Bryant to get comfortable and gave the Louisville crowd very little reason to sustain noise….. in the 1st quarter. Then Bryant became more and more comfortable as Clemson’s play calling was taking everything Louisville & Peter Sirmon were giving the Tigers. Too much cushion, not enough blocks defeated, poor tackling.
As a result Clemson DOMINATED the ball. Louisville’s defense was on the field for 20:13 of 30 minutes in the 1st half and Clemson ran 52 plays.
The longer a defense is on the field the more it will wear down, the more exposure it has to a big play….. and then Cornelius Strughill took a bad step and was roasted by Ray Ray McCloud. Louisville Football has a depth problem with its cornerbacks (calling all Cornerbacks) so I’m not sure why Peter Sirmon elected to put so much pressure on the Cardinal CBs.
But it’s a team effort. The front has to get to the QB. Safeties have to play better. Louisville needs to tackle much better. The Cards were on the wrong end of TOO MANY close spots.
Dabo Swinney said that Clemson wanted to ‘leave no doubt’….. and they didn’t. Clemson eventually made the Cardinal defense quit. Adam Choice’s 39-yard run for a TD & Travis Etienne’s 81-yard Touchdown run (on 2nd & 16) were embarassing efforts for the Louisville defense.
Louisville had 700+ yards a week ago vs. North Carolina. Yards and points have never been a problem for Bobby Petrino. But against Clemson there wasn’t enough of an emphasis on the run game. Lamar Jackson wasn’t sharp early (or really ever) throwing the ball vs. the Tigers and the Cards abandoned the running game far too early. Just 10 rushes for Running Backs vs. the Tigers…. for 52 yards.
Lamar wasn’t sharp, but his Wide Receivers didn’t help him either. Jaylen Smith said he had trouble tracking the ball early in the game and the Cardinal wideouts just did not break open for their Quarterback especially when the game mattered.
Most importantly the Offense did not help its defense at all. And it rarely has vs. Clemson:
3rd Converstions vs. Clemson
2017: 5-16 (0-6 at half)
If Louisville is going to give yards away on Defense (like they did last night) then Louisville’s offense must be effective at sustaining drives or it will get run off the field. Like they did last night. Louisville hasn’t been great on 3rd down during Bobby 2.0 and actually through 3 games of 2017 UofL is enjoying their best 3rd down conversion % since Petrino returned (44th in nation).
Wrap This Up
There is no way that anyone associated with Louisville Football thinks that what happened on the field Saturday vs. Clemson is ‘acceptable’. It’s not unacceptable because Louisville lost to Clemson… the #3 team & the defending national champions. It’s ‘Unnacceptable’ because the players quit and the coaches had the wrong plan… or didn’t stick with their plan.
A team has to believe. A team has to have pride. A team has to be mentally ready. If a team puts its best foot forward and still loses…. fine. Louisville fans would accept that…. like the previous 3 years vs. Clemson. But that wasn’t Louisville’s best effort, it wasn’t what Cardinal fans deserve. Louisville Football doesn’t quit on its home field.
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