Louisville Card File: Clemson

cardsBecause the heartbreaking, but well-deserved loss in the green pastures of Death Valley was more cockamamie than biblical, it is difficult to break down exactly what was the primary cause for defeat?

Or victory?

Both teams had chances which failed.

Both teams came up huge on defense when necessary.

And, while I’m inclined most often to find a singular moment during which the outcome became manifest, I cannot do so.

What I do know is that the U of L Cardinals have played two better than decent, eminently conquerable squads on the road and have fallen both times. By slim margins, to be sure, but the defeats taste rancid nonetheless.

* * * * *

This was a defensive battle of the highest order.

Bo and Woody were surely smiling as they watched.

22 punts.

3/33 combined on third down. Ofer 3 on fourth.

20 combined three and outs.

Todd Grantham’s defense was exemplary.1 Especially when the Tigers had it first and goal at the Cards’ 7 with 2:54 on the clock. Clemson had four cracks at the end zone, including two second down chances from inside the one because of an illegal substitution infraction, but were thwarted, and settled for three, giving the Cards life. B.J. Dubose and James Sample came up especially huge, though it’s probably not fair to their D mates to single them out.

* * * * *

The home team totaled 229 yards by land and air for the game.

121 of them came on Clemson’s last drives of each half — 53 in the 1st, 68 near game’s end — resulting in no points before intermission, and only that FG previously discussed very late.

I’ve got my abacus handy. I’ll do the math for you. Louisville’s defense held Clemson to a puny 108 yards the rest of the game.2

But for Louisville’s less than stellar and continually disappointing offensive, that would have been enough to seal the upset.

* * * * *

It seems obvious, to me anyway, that this is a re-learning year for Bobby Petrino. After a season off, and a year coaching the Hilltoppers in the not so smokin’ hot Sun Belt, he’s still finding his big time rhythm.

His cocksure confidence in this year’s offense is naive.

He continues to want the ball to open the game, taking possession when winning the toss instead of deferring, even though the Cards offense has proven it’s not a quick starter. That he was outfoxed on his play call on Louisville’s last gasp chance to win is a sign of the coach’s rustiness. The Tigers had watched the tapes and knew what was coming.

He made a major tactical error on U of L’s last possession of the opening half. The Cards didn’t run clock when they could and should have, handing Clemson its opportunity to use two timeouts to get the ball back. Which allowed Cole Stoudt to fire his mates down the field. Fortunately Dab Swinney’s guys frittered away the clock and scoring opportunity, to U of L’s benefit.

Major bullet dodged.

* * * * *

I do think Petrino made the correct decision — Duh!!! — to insert Will Gardner into the game at QB. And, at the correct time. After Reggie Bonnafon, who learned that playing in front of 81,000 screaming orangies in Death Valley is not playing Male High at Marshall Stadium in beautiful downtown Saint Matthews, couldn’t lead the team to a first down on its first two possessions after halftime.

It’s the question fans always ask at this juncture of seasons similar to the less than satisfying one being experience by U of L.

Who’s the quarterback?

My guess is Bonnafon and Gardner shall be moving on and off the field for the rest of the season. Both have capabilities. Both have flaws.

Bonnafon is much more mobile, but doesn’t see the field well and takes way to long to calculate his viable options on a play. Gardner’s a better thrower, even though he still tosses it into the ground on occasion.

That Gardner was ready yesterday is a testament to the kid, and must be applauded.

* * * * *

I guess we could ask the same question about running back.

Whoever is ready is going to get the ball.

* * * * *

11 penalties for 65 lost yards.

Sadly, many were committed by recidivists, whose names I shall not mention.

* * * * *

Because it might smack of sour grapes, and because part of me says it may have been legal, I am reluctant to mention this observation.

Which, of course, won’t stop me.

On U of L’s last unsuccessful fourth down attempt to steal the game, target receiver Eli Rogers was slung to the ground by a Clemson defender. This Sunday morning, I  touched my inner Ron Jaworski and watched the tape. Several times.

It was clear that Rogers was knocked down.

But, he was within five yards of the line of scrimmage, so it may not have constituted a penalizable infraction.3

Besides, even if Rogers had remained standing, he was well covered.

* * * * *

The Cards finally come home for an eminently winnable battle with North Carolina State next weekend.

— Seedy K


5 thoughts on “Louisville Card File: Clemson

  1. We were packing it up to leave the sports pub where we watched the second half so I wasn’t paying real close attention. Did the Clemson fans storm the field and tear down the goal posts after the final gun? Is that a Clemson tradition???

  2. moment of significance; When our 4th fastest player who was run down from behind took his Roberto Duranesque hands to a punt reception leading to Clemson having field position that our D held but then lead to offens being trapped close enough to the goal line that out other ‘Rock hesitated long enough to be hit and fumble leading to Clemson’s defensive touchdown. Quick is not a reliable “hands” catcher, and hasn’t been since arriving. Athletic yes, catch in arms or body yes; use hands not so very much… I also wonder about his strength/ability to stay on feet with minimal contact.
    How many great Trinity High School players (and at the high school level they have been numerous) have maintained that level or really lived up to the huge expectations once they progress through college and play on Sunday’s ?

  3. We are just not that good.on offense and won’t be until a) Devonte Parker steps over the sideline and b) Gardner and Bonnafon become more seasoned. But two things really bother me. One, for a 6″5″ slinger, Gardner sure gets a lot of passes batted down. On that last play, it looked like he hit the Clemson defender in the numbers. And two, I just don’t understand why with, say, 3rd and 8, the receiver runs a 5 yard hook pattern.

  4. Tremendous experience….except for the spike on 3rd down. We were doomed after that.

    Best away game ever….except for the spike on 3rd down.

    If Will G plays 3/4 of the game we win easy.

    Part of me thinks we were victimized by the “Pat White” syndrome. We were prep’ed for DWatson. He was toast against our D. Not so prep’ed for the second half bubble screen.

    Maybe if Reggie had broke his hand……? Just kidding….a little…

    Toss sweep on second down and goal? Like our chances for Dom (or bad Rad?)to get one yard that way…..Clemson could not defend that against UGA…

    We need to rotate more guys in on D. The reason they moved the ball at end of both halves was fatigue. Plus, we went 3-out constantly.

    Does anybody else think Quick scores if he runs to the flag instead of down the numbers? Or maybe if he hadn’t played 70+ plays? Kearse never quit on the play. That’s why we lost…plus, we spiked the ball on 3rd down. Plenty time to huddle and throw two passes. Coaches lost poise too, I guess, but you always want two chances at the apple, not one.

    Damn, our D is good…if we get any offense, FState goes down.

  5. Those saying that Quick didn’t have D-1 speed needed to outrun the defense on the 70 yard pass are forgetting that he set the state record in the 220 in H.S., in a time that came close to an olympic qualifying time. The problem was he was fatigued, and had to pivot and make a 90 degree turn after the catch, which meant he had to slow down, vs a secondary that had a few yards to get up to full speed. I don’t blame him for getting tackled. If he catches the ball on the dead run, he scores.

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