The loss to Clemson this past Saturday left a bitter taste in the mouths of Louisville fans. And thanks to a bye week one that will linger for awhile. Thanks to a trip to Disney World that begin last Sunday and a Hurricane evacuation this week I was able to avoid those feelings of disappointment. But now that I’m safe at home and looking through the stories I missed this week. I can’t help but feel for our guys. This group has worked hard and has paid their dues. They deserved a big win like that.
But just because you deserve something doesn’t mean it will be handed to you. And there was no way that Clemson was going to give the Cardinals anything. One of the Clemson players didn’t even want to give Lamar Jackson’s head back to him after a tackle. I digress but do want to give credit to Clemson for winning their big game. They had some guys step up. They have a great team and a great coach.
I had mentioned in my pre-game and it wasn’t a big revelation that Clemson would ride that big wave of emotion that comes with a Saturday night Primetime game in Death Valley. That place was electrifying. And their guys were amped up. This really stood out in the trenches.
The Cardinals O-Line and D-Line struggled getting beat both physically and mentally. The O-Line allowed a QB as elusive as Jackson to get sacked 5 times. And the penalties were staggering. Especially with them trying to overcome the emotion in that place. The D-Line struggled to contain Watson and allowed him and Gallman to play well above their rushing averages.
The mistakes weren’t limited to that part of the game but it did set the tone for the night. Being under pressure all night Lamar struggled to really get things going missing some throws and missing his reads. And the Louisville DB’s had their hands full with Watson getting time to deliver to his receivers. The absence of Shaq Wiggins didn’t help either.
I expected big time performances from Josh Harvey Clemons and Devonte Fields. The reason these guys came to Louisville for their second chances were for games like this. Harvey Clemons got his 11 tackles, but Fields was nonexistent with just two tackles. I think the defense really missed his presence. He can really set the tone when he’s getting to the QB.
Lamar missed some opportunities with Staples and I really thought that this would be a big night for this duo. Really thought Staples would have a huge outing. He like the guys I mentioned above came to Louisville for big games. Hope he can get it going soon. He’s got a lot of big play potential and the offense is going to need him.
The Cardinal’s lost the game but not all was lost. We got to see the Heisman Run of Lamar Jackson solidified. Clemson slowed him down but they couldn’t stop him. We got to see the coming of age of one of the best tight ends in College Football. Cole Hikutini fought through extra contact, holding and tripping for 7 catches and 84 yards. He is going to be fun to watch during the home stretch. We also got to see the emergence of guys like Jaire Alexander and Zykiesis Cannon who really made some great plays to help change momentum at times.
And finally we got to see this Louisville team take a big punch in the gut and fight to come back. They gave themselves a chance to win this game and even in defeat showed the 3rd largest TV crowd to ever watch a Saturday night football game that they do belong in the discussion this season.
It was a crushing loss and that game could have big implications on the rest of the Louisville Football season. Emotions tend to get the best of us sometimes but I was extremely disappointed to see some fans on social media bashing James Quick after the game. Without his play we wouldn’t have had a shot to win that game. No chance.
It’s all about perspective anyway isn’t it? As I mentioned above my family had to evacuate from our fall vacation due to a deadly hurricane coming across the southeast. This storm will cause all kinds of damage and loss of life. I’m so thankful we made it home safely and happy to be at home watching the storm from my TV instead of in person.
If you got so upset about a loss that you lashed out at a student athlete then you need some perspective. There were many mistakes Saturday night. But those mistakes will be corrected and nobody wanted it more than the players who have laid it all on the line.
The bye week is hard on the fans especially after a loss. It’s good for the team. Time to heal up and the extra practice time will give the Cardinals a chance to get back to work to correct things. Duke has a very good team and it should be a competitive game. Like most of you I Can’t wait! Go Cards!
Prayers to all of the folks in the path of Hurricane Matthew. Stay safe folks!