CRAWFORD | Insert ugly headline here: Eight takeaways from Louisville's 45-34 loss at Pitt
A disastrous second quarter was too much for the University of Louisville football team to overcome in a 45-34 loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — I’ve seen uglier things than the second quarter the University of Louisville football team played at Pitt on Saturday. I just don’t think I’ve had to write about them on the Internet.
Is this allowed? Should there be a parental warning?
The Cardinals gave up 35 points in the quarter. I don’t really have to say more than that. But I will. Four touchdown passes? They made Nate Peterman (11 of 14, 4 TDs in the quarter) look like Dan Marino. It was 42-24 at halftime.
The Cardinals wound up steadying themselves, but couldn’t climb back far enough in a 45-34 loss at Heinz Field.
“We just flat got beat,” U of L coach Bobby Petrino said. “You just have to take your hat off to their offense and their defense, but mainly their offense. They did a great job of executing. I think they had the ball 37 minutes in the game, we had it 22 minutes. You can’t give up that many long, big drives and have your offense standing on the sidelines, so that really hurt us. Offensively we were able to make some big plays and score fast a few times, but there wasn’t the kind of consistency you need to come back.”
I don’t know what this means heading into the season finale at Kentucky. Let’s for a moment look at the takeaways from this one:
1. GOT THE JOB DONE. In a losing effort, it’s hard to fault the play of Jamari Staples. The wideout hauled in 9 catches for 194 yards. “I thought he made a lot of great plays for us. He was competing extremely hard. He made some great runs after the catch. You can’t say enough about a guy who goes out and competes that hard. I hope he’ll be OK, he got nicked up at the end.”
In general, the Cardinal passing game put up good numbers — 355 yards and three touchdown passes. But Kyle Bolin also threw a pick-6 (after which he was benched for freshman Lamar Jackson) and the running game did less than nothing. U of L ran the ball 24 times for negative one yard. You can’t win doing that, no matter how well you throw the ball.
2. DIDN’T GET THE JOB DONE. One word. Defense. You give up 28 points and four TD passes in a quarter (I’m not counting the pick 6 against the defense), you’re just not there to play. Pittsburgh averaged 5.4 yards per carry on the game, but averaged 6.4 in the second quarter.
Pittsburgh was 6-8 on third down in the first half, and averaged nearly 8 yards per play in the half. The game was largely over at that point, so what happened in the second half is less important.
Petrino struggled for an explanation.
“I don’t know, I wish I knew the issue,” Petrino said. “They were running the ball. They were throwing it. They made big plays throwing it off their play-action. They executed. We didn’t tackle well. We left guys open down the middle for big plays. We flat just got beat by their offense. They executed. We did not.”
3. TURNING POINT. It had already been a nightmare quarter for the Cardinals, then QB Kyle Bolin threw an interception to Pitt’s Avonte Maddox that took the score from 35-17 to 42-17. Bolin came out of the game at that point, and freshman Lamar Jackson did make a big play for a TD before the end of the half (after an interception was nullified by pass interference), but couldn’t get the offense back to full speed in the second half.
“Our focus should have been on the other side of the field,” Petrino said. “So we felt like it was time to make a change. We did get a good touchdown right before half, a nice throw and catch. That gave us an opportunity to make some plays. . . . There were a lot of guys who felt like we had an opportunity at that point and some guys really stepped up and went out and competed and played hard,” Petrino said. “We did a good job in the third quarter. We got it within eight points and had a chance to go score and go for two.”
4. SURPRISE, SURPRISE. The Louisville defense had played better over the past month, but against a better offense, they reverted back to some of their worst struggles of the season — the second half at Florida State. Petrino said he did not expect that.
“I am surprised,” Petrino said. “I thought we would do a better job, especially on defense. That’s where our experience is, that’s where we’ve had some dominant performances.”
5. WDRB PLAYER OF THE GAME. For Louisville, it could be nobody but Staples. His 194 yards receiving is the sixth-highest single-game total in Louisville history.
6. STAT OF THE DAY. Louisville gave up seven sacks, boosting its season total to 43. Unless UTSA, Charlotte or SMU gives up six or more on Saturday, the Cardinals will rank dead last in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in that category. A year ago the Cardinals gave up 40 sacks.
7. WHAT WE LEARNED. The Cardinals have beaten up on lesser teams this season. When they’ve played better teams, the story hasn’t been pretty. And with lopsided losses to Pitt and Florida State, the results have been progressively worse.
8. NEXT UP. The Cards face arch-rival Kentucky next Saturday at noon in Commonwealth Stadium. The Wildcats will be playing for a bowl bid. Louisville will be playing for pride. Petrino outlined the plan for his team, saying he wasn’t committing to naming a starting quarterback for next week.
“We need to come back and work hard, practice well, prepare well, and go down and win the game,” he said, adding about the quarterback situation, “I don’t think we need to talk about that right now. We need to evaluate the game, get on the practice field and then make a decision.”
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