Times like these are when I really gain a lot of respect for those guys/gals on the beat writing about college sports as their job. In good times and bad those folks have to meet the deadline. I’ve been struggling to find words since that horrible display of football last Friday night. Funny that it’s been over a week now but still feels like that drubbing just happened yesterday. Georgia Tech just scored again. Sorry!
It has been a long time since I’ve sat thru one like that. I had almost forgotten how bad things can get. As fans, we’ve come a long way since the “The Kragthorpe experiment”. Now if we get a whiff of that type of apathy we lose our minds. It really did scar us. Bobby Petrino is 77-31 as the Louisville head coach and has won over 71% of his games here. He’s 21-14 winning 69% of his ACC games since his return. He has a rough start to this season and we are calling for his head.
Are we jumping the gun here? Is it realistic to think that Bobby would only get one bad season before he was fired? If Ron Cooper and “The Kragthorpe experiment” got three seasons of horrible football isn’t the guy who had us on the doorstep of a National Title entitled to one bad season?
Like I mentioned above I’m scarred. I’m in the ”cut your losses now” camp. I just don’t see the same fire in Coach Petrino’s eyes anymore. He has been a great football coach for us but I’m feeling like it’s time for him to go hang with the grandkids. Move on gracefully. But that isn’t going to happen and I don’t think he’ll get fired either. Even if the Cards can’t get things turned around this season that’s just not in the Cards. His buyout is absurd and he will get a mulligan.
I’m willing to give him that mulligan but would like to see Coach Petrino and this team turn things around this season. The buzz has been good around the program considering. Players seem motivated to get things back on track and even talking a little smack this week with Tu-Tu Atwell calling Boston College’s defense slow. I love the moxie of this true Freshman and this team is full of young guys with this fiery attitude.
Maybe this cake is just taking a little longer to bake. We have just reached the midpoint of this season. Is a reboot in the Cards?
The offense is trending upwards outcome of the games be damned. After a slow start, the Cardinals are finding their stride in the last two weeks. They have averaged 452.0 yards per game in the last two losses. In dropping a game to Georgia Tech last week, the Cardinals totaled a season-best 483 yards, including 370 yards through the air. The Cardinals tied their season high for points with 31 equaling their output In the Indiana State game.
We’ve got some young offensive players trending upward as well. Tu-Tu Atwell is leading the team with an 18.8 yards per catch average the fourth-highest total among freshmen nationally. In the last two games, Atwell has caught six passes for 132 yards and two scores, averaging 22.0 yards per catch. He had a career-long 53-yard catch against Florida State. Hassan Hall totaled 194 all-purpose yards in the loss to Georgia Tech. That’s the most all purpose yards by a true freshman since Lamar Jackson had 226 all-purpose yards in the 2015 Music City Bowl. Hall carried the ball five times for 23 yards and caught a personal high four catches for 33 yards.
Puma has excelled in his last two starts, going 47 for 80 for 605 yards and four touchdowns. And he didn’t throw an interception for the first time this season in the last game. In the last three games, Dez Fitzpatrick has caught 13 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 12.7 yards a reception. After catching eight passes in the first four games, Jaylen Smith is second on the team with 16 receptions for a team-high 266 yards and one score. He ranks 69th nationally with his 16.6 yards per catch average. Rodjay Burns has provided a spark in the return game. The Louisville native ranks ninth nationally and is second in the ACC in punt return average, posting a 16.4 yards per return mark.
The offense is showing some signs of life. It is the Louisville Defense that will have to get it together for this team to turn things around. The Yellow Jackets hung six rushing touchdowns on the Cards last Friday, averaging a whopping 8.3 yards per play. The defense has some hungry guys. P.J. Blue is starting to make an impact. In the last three games as a starter, Blue has been credited with 19 stops.
Khane Pass and Nick Okeke are both coming off of their best games of the season with 8 tackles each in the last outing.
We’ve got some guys to make plays on defense but they have to be put in the right situations for that to happen. This is where the disconnect is right now. Louisville has not recorded a sack in the last two games, and through six games, the Cardinals have only registered two interceptions in 131 pass attempts. Through six games, the Cardinals are -9 in turnover margin turning the ball over 14 times, while just causing four miscues.
Will VanGorder be able to close this gap?
Louisville fans are losing their minds right now. But here at the midway point, we all need to take a collective breath. A total of 14 freshmen have made their collegiate debuts this season and the Cardinals are playing the 2018 season with one of the nation’s smallest senior classes with just 11 dotting the roster. It’s not like we are playing with house money folks.
I think this season can still be salvaged and the reboot can start on Saturday in Boston.