BOZICH | Louisville a 9-4 team that finished with 9-4 season - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Louisville a 9-4 team that finished with 9-4 season

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Louisville could not slow Georgia halfback Nick Chubb. Louisville could not slow Georgia halfback Nick Chubb.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WDRB) – Forget, for a second, the spectacular way Georgia halfback Nick Chubb sprinted toward the 2015 Heisman Trophy.

Stop the debate about how Louisville coach Bobby Petrino managed his quarterback rotation against Georgia.

Pause the video before you ask more questions about the 37-14 whack, whack, whacking that Georgia delivered against the Cardinals Tuesday night in the Belk Bowl. I'll get to the game. Promise.

But first this: Petrino and Louisville delivered the season the Cards were expected to deliver in 2014. Nine wins. Four losses. I didn't have them doing better. Neither did many pre-season magazines.

Lost a game they should have won at Virginia. Won a game few thought they would win (at least before the season) against Notre Dame.

The Cards were outmanned by teams with superior speed and size twice – against Florida State and Georgia. That flashed on the scoreboard. Lost to the Seminoles by 11. Lost to Georgia by more than the program has lost to anybody since Steve Kragthorpe's final season (41-10 to Cincinnati in 2009).

Tuesday night was one-sided and emphatic, so one-sided and emphatic that it made me wonder how Georgia (10-3) lost to Florida or South Carolina. Georgia is better than Louisville. Perhaps not 23 points better, but at least 10 to 14 points better.

“We didn't finish the season like we wanted to,” Louisville linebacker Keith Kelsey said.

Overall, not a spectacular season. Not what this team was capable of delivering with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback and Marcus Smith, Calvin Pryor and others on defense.

But not bad for a team that played without its best player (receiver DeVante Parker) for the first half of the season, never had a quarterback take control of the team, lost a valuable running back (Michael Dyer) for this game because of academic failure and put all of its chips on the defense to win the most difficult games.

Yes, the season ended with a thunderous thud, instead of the exclamation point, the way it did with the wins at the Russell Athletic and Sugar bowls the last two seasons.

But Louisville was a 9-4 team that finished 9-4.

“It's been a great season for us,” Petrino said. “To go 9-3 in our first year in the ACC and be in three other games where we had a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter says a lot for the senior group and says a lot for our young guys that got in and contributed.

“I think it's been a really good year for us. We've got a ways to go. I think tonight is a great measuring stick for us.”

Measuring stick fits here. Petrino and his coaching staff have work to do.

First, he must plug the openings that will be created by players completing their eligibility or a few (Gerod Holliman and maybe Charles Gaines and James Sample) leaving early for the NFL. Then, Petrino has to settle on and develop a quarterback.

He started the season with Will Gardner, switched to Reggie Bonnafon, went back to Gardner, returned to Bonnafon and closed with Kyle Bolin. Injuries absolutely contributed to the merry-go-round. But so did erratic play.

Nobody separated himself from the pack. Bolin had solid numbers, completing 20 of 40 passes for 300 yards, giving him back-to-back 300-yard passing games to finish the season.

But 50 percent passing does not win in college football today, especially when you throw a pair of interceptions.

Bonnafon, just a freshman, was not ready for the moment. He took a nine-yard sack. He was so determined to throw a deep ball to DeVante Parker that he threw a pass into double coverage. Two Georgia defenders were in position to intercept it.

In the end, no matter how complicated everybody tries to make football, blocking and tackling decide more games than fancy play-calling.

In two games, Louisville looked overmatched. Florida State and Georgia were more powerful on the offensive and defensive lines.

The Louisville defensive front that stuffed Clemson, Notre Dame and other teams wobbled against Chubb and his collection of blockers. Chubb ran and ran and ran for 266 yards, averaging 8.1 yards per carry.

“The last touchdown I was very tired, but it was my time,” Chubb said.

Only one Georgia halfback, Herschel Walker, ever ran for more yards in a game.

“It's a blessing being in the same sentence with him,” Chubb said.

Georgia threw for 200 yards on only 24 passing attempts while playing its back-up quarterback the entire second half.

“It was very frustrating because on defense we've been resilient this whole year,” U of L linebacker Deiontrez Mount said. “We didn't have that same answer tonight.”

There was no answer, other than this: Georgia was better. Louisville was a 9-4 team that finished with a 9-4 season.

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