Okay, it’s Senior Day, a cold one, but you figure this Cardinal team would want to play well for the departing squad members and hearty fans who have braved the frigidity. Playing to the norm this season — best classified as underwhelming but pretty good — the Cards enter the 4th Q with a 3 TD lead.
Which is OK, if not what ought to be against a relatively hapless Memphis State team. So, the good guys maybe score another TD, and the fans can go home chilled but happy.
Instead, here’s what happens.
The Tigers find the endzone on the first play of the Quarter.
With Teddy Bridgewater obviously hurting — back or ankle, who knows — U of L can only hold on to the ball for two minutes and change, then punts.
Memphis State, doing its best Central Florida impression, gets the ball at its own 14, and starts to move it inexorably downfield. Louisville, playing just as lackadaisically as it did when coughing up a three TD lead to the Knights, lets the visitors plow the ball downfield. Six minutes plus later, the score is 24-17.
With plenty o’ time to play.
The way Louisville is playing, the way Teddy B is hurting, the way Uncle Mo has shifted to the blue team, you figure the Cards will try to smashmouth the ball and hopefully run out the clock. You figure that Watson and Strong and, to be honest, Teddy B, will understand that Clock Management is as important at this juncture as any other factor.
The Cards get a couple first downs. But, for some odd reason, they’re snapping the ball with twenty seconds left on the play clock. And they put the ball in the air twice. At the three minute mark, they can sustain possession. They’re forced to punt.
At which point, Memphis State’s Reggis Ball wins U of L’s Most Valuable Player of the Game Award. He roughs Cardinal punter Ryan Johnson, giving Sean Moth the chance to implore the truly faithful left in the stands to bellow “Another Card First Down.”
After which, the clock management remains deplorable. Unnecessary passes. And plays run with twenty seconds or so on the play clock while the game clock is running.
Louisville survives, despite itself.
Thank you, Reggis Ball.
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Michael Dyer didn’t play on offense. He might have gotten in on special teams, but he’s not listed in the official game participation report.
Calvin Pryor didn’t play. Charlie Strong might have addressed that in his post-game press conference, but I wasn’t there, didn’t hear it, and haven’t seen a report yet about what’s going on there.
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If Louisville was going to essentially run the ball in the fouth quarter, which it essentially did, despite my braying above, why was an obviously hurting Teddy Bridgewater on the gridiron?
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It’s not like U of L played awful, it’s just that this team, despite a record glossy on the surface, has underperformed most of the season. And certainly did so today.
On the plus side, the D had three sacks, with another nullified by a penalty.
DeVante Parker’s 39 yard TD was sweet, a great scamper after breaking a tackle.
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After winning in Houston today, Cincy’s Bearcats have captured six in a row.
If Louisville doesn’t play considerably better and more consistently than it did today, the regular season could have a sour ending in Nippert after a week off for Teddy Bridgewater to heal.