BOZICH | Cue the background noise after Louisville's shaky 0-3 start
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – This is the kind of noise a college football program has to handle when it opens the season with three consecutive losses instead of one or two victories.
Reports, apparently bogus, that one of its reserve quarterbacks tweeted or re-tweeted something about how he should have been the starter during the University of Louisville’s 20-17 loss to Clemson Thursday night.
The clarification of a quote from another player, a freshman, whose post-game comments could have been interpreted as saying the Cardinals were out coached by the Tigers.
Then there is the old standard of winless teams – the Look Ahead to the remainder of the schedule to determine if enough victories are going to pop up for a bowl trip.
That, the last one, is where I will begin after U of L lost a game it could have won for the second time in six days. Missed fourth-quarter field goal against Houston. Missed fourth-quarter field goal (from 38 yards) against Clemson. The Cards didn't even make it to overtime.
Cue the noise. It’s the way of the world today.
I don’t believe that freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson tweeted that he should have started or played ahead of Kyle Bolin, certainly not while the game was being played, although there was some chatter about that after the defeat.
Did others tweet that Jackson should have been running the offense instead of Bolin?
You bet they did.
You can start that list with ESPN radio host Ryan Russillo. At 8:40 p.m., at some point during the second quarter after Louisville had opened the game with six consecutive punts, Russillo tapped out this tweet:
“How many minutes until Lamar Jackson is in? Better fit vs. Clemson.”
Reasonable suggestion. Bolin was solid, but hardly great. He completed 19 of 34 passes for 238 yards. He did not throw a touchdown pass. He did throw two interceptions, including a desperation heave on the game’s final play.
Bolin took five sacks, including a killer on the Cards’ final drive, when their clock management was mostly inefficient.
The debate about Louisville’s starting quarterback will stretch into October and likely November. The Cards don’t have a winning offensive line. Without that critical piece, they also don’t have a running game, grinding to only 19 yards rushing against the Tigers.
“We’re just not very good right now on offense,” coach Bobby Petrino said. “We have a hard time running the football, and tonight we had a hard time converting third downs.”
Petrino would not commit to Bolin or anybody else as the starting quarterback in game four.
Here is something else that was tweeted during the game – by me, not Lamar Jackson or an ESPN radio host:
“Unless the U of L offensive line improves, Unitas, Redman, Ragone or Brohm would struggle for time to operate and succeed.”
The Cards have a solid group of young receivers, headlined by tiny Traveon Samuel (four catches, 41 yards) and lanky Jaylen Smith (three for 77). Samuel thundered 100 yards with a kickoff about five minutes into the fourth quarter to cut the Clemson lead to 20-17, re-energizing the 55,396 fans in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
I heard what Samuel said in the post-game interview room. Samuel was asked what kinds of things Petrino told the team in the locker room after the game. Samuel said that Petrino told the players that they competed well but that they were out coached.
But as far as looking at the schedule and finding seven or even six victories?
I can’t help the Cardinals there. This is going to go to the wire.
The simple math is that even if Louisville sweeps the remainder of its home schedule (four games, starting with Samford, an FCS program, on Sept. 26) the Cardinals will need to win three of five road games to get to seven victories.
If those road games were played today, Louisville would not be favored against North Carolina State (Oct. 3), Florida State (Oct. 17) or Kentucky (Nov. 28). This is no putt in the leather, even giving the Cards road wins at Wake Forest and Pittsburgh.
It’s not the kind of season Louisville fans were expecting in August. It’s not the kind of season the Cardinals have experienced that last three seasons. They've won at least nine. They'd have to win out to get to nine now.
And, these are certainly not the results (or football) they expected from Petrino. His teams at Louisville were never offensively challenged. This team is.
Petrino went 41-9 from 2003-2006 at Louisville. Petrino has lost seven of 16 games in 1 1/3 seasons during The Sequel. Petrino did not lose seven games until he had won 25 during first four-season run at Louisville.
Then, he was not opening against Auburn, Houston and Clemson. Now he is – and the Cardinals have lost to those three teams by a combined 13 points.
There is plenty of background noise to prove it.
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