Just when it was seeming like it could be so literate of me to consider opening this GameCap with a paraphrase of Sam L. Clemons, a reference to reports of the Cards’ demise being premature; just when BVG’s sometimes tough sometimes not D made the biggest, arguably most important stop in years, one which could have and should have saved the ballgame; just when U of L didn’t exactly go manly man with a grind it out drive but was holding on to the ball with the clock ticking away to secure the victory; just when it seemed like the less than full but boisterous Cardinal Stadium crowd would be C-A-R-D-S-ing its way into a joyous BBQ and brewski-saturated Saturday night; just then, just then at probably this campaign’s pivotal instant, Bobby Petrino inexplicably has his Pete Carroll moment.
Not that Saturday afternoon’s egregious coaching miscalculation was a Super Bowl equivalent gaffe, but it probably blows the season for what is surely now a fragile U of L Cardinal dynamic.
With the clock ticking below two minutes until an unprecedented third ACC W in a row over the Florida State Seminoles, Louisville, up 24-21, had the ball 1st and 10 at Florida State’s 19. The visitors only had two of their allotted three timeouts left to delay what should have been the inevitable.
Bobby Petrino — What????? — called a pass play.
Bobby Petrino not only called a pass play, but one fraught with peril, one which gave his inexperienced, somewhat rattled from incessant pressure QB an option for a short toss on a hook route in the middle third of the field.
Improving but still not up to prime time, Puma Pass threw into coverage. Pick.
He never should have been put in that position.
When commenting about the improvident call, Petrino voiced an answer worded in a most disturbing perspective.
“The last play that was an interception, I look back at it, obviously and I guess they should have run the ball.”
“They should have run the ball”?
Uh, don’t you mean “we” coach?
Petrino did own the mistake, “I wanted to run the ball and finish the game, but I made a bad call.”
“Made a bad call”? You can say that again.
Peripatetic, first year Seminole mentor Willie Taggart was as surprised as he was grateful for the opportunity to steal the game, and call off the disgruntled FSU faithful calling for his scalp four games into his tenure.
“Yeah, I was surprised and happy. I mean I figured they were going to run the ball and make us use a timeout and get out of there. It was great. I’m glad they didn’t.”
* * * * *
After State pulled within three at 9:55 on a 25 yard bullseye from Francois to McKitty, Louisville could only play keep away for two and a half minutes. That Cardinal drive ended with a Kragthorpian 13 yard completion on 3d &15.
But then Brian Van Gorder’s defense had easily its best series of the season, forcing an immaculate four and out, to give the O a chance to run out the clock with the Cards ahead.
After giving up 14 yards on the visitor’s first play of the series, the Cards stopped the Seminoles cold. On the next play, the defenders with contain responsibility did their job on an attempted sweep reverse, and Tabarius Peterson stopped the run for a 7 yard loss.
Then P.J. Mbanasor knocked down a pass. Which he did again on 3d &17, forcing a Seminole punt.
* * * * *
See above for an explanation of what happened on U of L’s ensuing possession which commenced at 5:58. There’s no reason to reiterate.
Plus there were two other technical mistakes on that drive before the pick that gave FSU the ball back for the winning score. Jaylen Smith ran out of bounds after a 21 yard reception. Trey Smith did the same thing after a short yardage rush, going out of bounds, which again momentarily stopped the clock.
Fundamentals. Is there anybody on the staff schooling these players on the basics, the details necessary for success?
There has been considerable consternation among the Red & Black Faithful about the quality, or lack thereof, of Bobby’s assistants. So, I feel compelled to share what might be the most telling numbers of the day, discovered before kickoff in the visitor’s game notes.
The average age of Willie Taggart’s ten assistants is 46 years old. Yet they have a combined 224 years of coaching experience, most all of it at Power 5 schools.
Feel free to compare that to the resumés of Cardinal assistants. I’m just not brave enough to look.
As mighty as U of L’s D looked in the above described sequence, it was back to the norm when Florida State needed but :43 ticks of the clock and 5 plays to tally the winning TD. The score came on a 58 yard Francois to Murray toss, catch, and run, during which the Cards devolved back to ineffective Toy Bowl tackling technique. Two Louisville players had their hands on Murray, but failed to tackle him to the turf.
Ball game. Deflation.
* * * * *
U of L looked so improved for a half, albeit against a Florida State squad but a hollow shell of those that took the field in the halcyon Bobby Bowden days.
At intermission, the Cards, leading 21-7 after a marvelous score with :10 to play, had 238 total yards to the Seminoles’ 136. Even though the OL, still not very good, allowed three sacks, Puma Pass was 17/26 for 191 yards and 2 TDs. The Cards were 5/9 on third downs. The Cards dominated the field position tussle.
Louisville could garner but a FG in the exasperating second half, while Florida State steadied, took advantage of Bobby Petrino’s brain fart, clawing back to victory.
* * * * *
As if it all didn’t hurt too much already, there was an exclamation point.
As the gobsmacked Cardinal fans solemnly trundled to their cars after the defeat, there was a band playing at Parrish House on the corner of Floyd and Boxley.
Too appropriately, they were doing a cover of the Swinging Blue Jeans, though most probably know the song from Linda Ronstadt.
You’re no good/ you’re no good/ you’re no good/ Baby you’re no good.
— Seedy K