Louisville Card File: Virginia

cardsEvery once in awhile you get a game like this.

One of the teams plays really bad, as if it has no intention nor inclination to win the game, and does everything it can along the way to make sure that happens.

That would be Virginia.

But they are playing a team performing even worse, a foe with more resolve to fritter away victory opportunities, its intention to make sure that no matter how bad its opponent is performing, it’s going to do even more to not win the game. It beats itself.

That would be Louisville.

U.G.L.Y. 23, U.G.L.I.E.R. 21.

* * * * *

There are two positive takeaways from the game.

ClaireCard1. Baby Claire, the cutest little granddaughter ever born, still, like her gramps, loves the Cardinals this Sunday morning, despite their woeful performance in Charlottesville.

2. There is a God.

I watched the game with The Professor, a long time Cardinal diehard, but one with a perennially fatalistic perspective.

Halfway through the 4th Q, with U of L down six points, Will Gardner threw a pick on a 3d & Goal at the UVa 9 yard line. It was nullified by a legit, but truly idiotic roughing the passer penalty on the Cavaliers’ Coley.

On the next play, Gardner found his favorite receiver for the day, James Quick, on a curl route in the end zone, for a one point advantage after the conversion.

So dumb was the Cardinals luck — a second chance score after an interception in the red zone — that The Professor proclaimed, “If there’s a God, Virginia will win this game.”

Let it be proclaimed. Let it be done.

There’s a Deity up there wearing blue and orange for services this morning.

* * * * *

The Cardinals were a well oiled machine on the opening drive of the game.

They took the opening kickoff, and drove 75 yards in nine impeccable1 plays in 5:12 to score.

On the drive, Will Gardner was 4/4 to four different receivers, for 49 yards, including the scoring strike to Charles Standberry. It was a nifty play action, with Gardner putting the ball behind his back after the fake, before tossing the TD.

On U of L’s next 11 possessions, it totaled but 90 yards. On six of them, the Cards didn’t register a first down.

The line couldn’t block. The receivers couldn’t get open. Gardner couldn’t find them if they did. Bonnafon was marginally in more control, but plagued sometimes with bad field position, wasn’t a catalyst for a Louisville score.

* * * * *

Three games into the post Teddy Era, U of L has a QB quandary.

Neither Gardner nor Bonnafon has experience, which needs to be remembered as they must be given a chance to mature and develop.

That said, Gardner displays little leadership swagger. And he has an annoying habit of having his passes tipped and blocked by oncoming lineman. I counted 5 of those yesterday. The official stats say it happened 7 times. The kid’s 6-5 for heavens’ sake.2

It’s simply too early to tell how good Reggie Bonnafon can be. Either this season, or in the future. He does display a more commanding presence on the field.

One of them, or both, need to kick it up a notch. Now.

* * * * *

Frankly there aren’t enough brickbats to go around for all that deserve one.

CB Andrew Johnson was woeful early on. Missing tackles, giving up a 50 yard completion on the Cavaliers’ first play from scrimmage, and getting outmaneuvered for Virginia’s first score on a route to the corner of the end zone.

Lorenzo Mauldin failed to seal the backside several times, allowing significant gains for Virginia’s rushers.

Of course, Michaelee Harris’s gaffe on that last punt, when he ran into James Quick, forcing a fumble, proved fatal, allowing UVa to tally the winning field goal.

And, what the hell was James Quick thinking on the last play of the first half, inexplicably and stupidly throwing his defender to the ground after the play? Which caused a little sideline brouhaha, giving the home team some renewed fight after the break.

* * * * *

On the plus side, Todd Grantham’s defense played pretty well. They made several red zone stops, and another in the fourth which should have sealed the game, but for that game deciding special teams’ fumble.

Gerod Holliman had two interceptions. Kelsey and Burgess were solid at linebacker. Sample, Gaines and F CB Trumaine Washington were stellar also.

* * * * *

Bottom line: It was just an ugly damn football game.

U of L lost two fumbles, and Gardner had two interceptions that appear in the box score, and one more that happened on the field, but was nullified by a UVa penalty.

Virginia coughed up a fumble, and each of their QBs had a pick.

U of L had as many giveaways as 3d and 4th down conversions.

Which ugliness would have been easier to bear, had U of L found a way to win, instead of a way to lose.

* * * * *

The day did end on a somewhat happier note for Cardinal fans.

Ken Lolla’s soccer team bashed visiting Duke, 5-0, in the Cards’ ACC opener at the Lynn.

— Seedy K

5 thoughts on “Louisville Card File: Virginia

  1. in retrospect, Gardner’s impressive spring game was a game in which there was no sacking of the qb allowed and I don’t recall if blitz’s were or not. Big difference in finding receivers and hitting targets with or without pressure.
    For all the praise we have given ex-coach Strong for the talented recruits he brought in, did he leave realizing he had forgotten to re-stock db’s as well as developing qb position ? In addition to the obvious lure of what Longhorn program prestige and dollars offered did he realize that and “get while the gettin’ was good” ?

    1. The Longhorns had their own “coulda, woulda, shoulda” game with an inexperienced QB and offensive line. His is no cakewalk. I was impressed when Charlie himself grabbed one side of an injured player and helped him off the field.

  2. Ugly is a touch lite….Va is bad….but we played worse…Gardner just doesn’t seem to make good in game decisions
    …and his release point,always a question to me, keeps getting lower and lower( seemed to me like he had 20 batted down)….and I’m still not sold on Reggie’s arm strength……need to to get Dyer cranked up…can get to the corner with malice. Brown, IMO, should slap the crap out of the O line,he had a “big boy pants” 75 tough ones…without a lot of help….our wide outs,save for Quick(mostly), look lost….and Christian is an awful route runner,,,,,but none of that matters….Gardner is a very inaccurate passer right now…..GO CARDS….GO KROGERING……Reggie is more on target, but the ball takes too long to get there…….so we can replace Teddy in one off season??????…Bobby’s a good coach,but as I noted earlier…Va is bad….looks as if the road is not going to be our friend…..we could still sneak up on a good team, but think we a starring down the barrel of a 2 over .50% season..that’s all I got….keep coming back……Marko

  3. I don’t know what year it was but UL was playing UK in Lexington and the Cards had the lead late in the 4th, UK sputtered on offense and had to punt. There was about 5 to go. All we had to do was cleanly field the punt or just let it go, make a couple of first downs, run some clock and we had the W. Whomever he was tried to field the punt running TOWARD the ball just like James Quick on Sat., a feat that requires perfect timing from the best of returners. Ball predictably hit returner’s pads, UK recovered, scores, ball game. Mr. Quick seems to make a lot of freshman errors in judgement. Oh wait. He’s a sophomore. Then someone please tell him the games aren’t played in St Matthews anymore. And I had the same thought regarding our 6’5″ QB and all the batted balls. What the… is up with that? Oh well, back to work. The season is obviously a work in progress.

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