I don’t blame you. My fingers are tired of hitting the same keys to say the same thing.
So, let’s hear from a couple of other U of L fans.
After my weekly Saturday morning jog in Seneca Park where I was passed like I was doing the Michael Jackson moonwalk by the competitors in the Regional Cross Country Meet, I overheard this snippet of conversation between two Louisville fans.
“They played even worse than last week.”
“It was mistake after mistake after mistake.”
Couldn’t myself have better described U of L’s disheartening 20-19 W over a team it should have beaten handily. Though I’ve essentially been typing those descriptors all season.
Trust me, I’m a fan. I don’t especially savor passing along the same post game post mortem every week.
* * * * *
Louisville’s offensive woes continue.
It’s pretty stunning to watch an offensive unit of savant Bobby Petrino perform so consistently inconsistent every time out. I mean, this is T.W. Alley-looking stuff.
But it’s far from all his fault.1
You heard it before, but I shall repeat. The Cardinals offensive problems are essentially due to two things.
One, the offensive line continues to be atrocious. Especially center Tobijah Hughley. Who, as fifth year senior, does not have the excuse that he’s an inexperienced newcomer. He set the tone especially early against the Demon Deacons.
On Louisville’s second snap of the game, he centered the ball into his own butt. The fumble was fortunately recovered by QB Lamar Jackson, who was in the shotgun as usual, not under center as his snapper apparently thought.
U of L went three and out, which they did again on its next series, not garnering a 1st down until only 5:31 was left in the opening quarter.
Hughley’s miscues figured more prominently later on. Remember, as center, he’s charged with calling out O Line blocking patterns.
When Lamar Jackson was brought down in the endzone for a safety, Duke Ejiofor, who made the two-point TFL, blitzed easily through the center of U of L’s porous line. Either Hughley missed the block, or failed to call the proper coverage. Which is the exactly the same thing that happened when Tylor Harris bullied his way through to block John Wallace’s FG attempt with 9:31 to play.
Is Hughley the only guy on the O Line not getting the job done? Of course not. Some of his cohorts are young and inexperienced, and thus have an excuse. Frankly, I’m not so impressed with job O Line coach Chris Klenakis has done.2 Any improvement in that unit has been, at best, minimal.
The second offensive inhibitor has been the play of Lamar Jackson. Who, to be fair, also has that legitimate inexperience excuse. And, Friday night, was also hobbled early by lingering ankle issues from the BC tussle, which were exacerbated late, forcing the insinuation of 3d team Kyle Bolin as signal caller, since #2 QB Reggie Bonnafon took a concussive header.
But . . . for all his athletic talent, LJ does not, one guy’s observations, seem to possess quarterbacking instincts. I’ll throw in the qualifier “yet,” though I’m skeptical. At one juncture, U of L got one of its few nice gains on a rush up the middle. It was a QB option read that LJ correctly made, handing the ball off instead of keeping it. The Cards ran the exact same play on the next snap. And would have had the same positive result, except that Jackson kept it as is his wont, and was herded out of bounds for minimal positive yardage.
That lack of intuition was most apparent on the safety. He didn’t get rid of the ball, though it was a delayed rush. And he had his outlet available just to his left.
Of course, the glass half full perspective requires mention of Louisville’s scintillating :33 second, four play, game saving drive to pull within a deuce right before halftime. Jackson to James Quick for 28 yards. Jackson to LJ Scott for 10 yards. Jackson to Quick again for 18 yards. Jackson to Offensive Player of the Game Jamari Staples for 22 yards and six points.
Yes, kudos to UAB transfer Staples. 10 grabs for 133 yards. Two scores. Big game. Huge.
* * * * *
Yes, Louisville defense was significant for the second straight weekend.
Then again, this was Wake Forest the Cards were competing against. Yours truly, the usual suspects who weigh in weekly in the Comments section, along with a couple of guys from the intramural champs would be a 1 1/2 favorite over Wake Forest.
Yes, there were some sacks, a few TFLs, and those 4 game salvaging, game saving picks that I would be remiss were I not to acknowledge.
But . . . two inexplicably awful breakdowns by safety Jermaine Reve handed the Demon Deacons their tandem of TDs. On Wake’s first touchdown, not only did Reve fail to give proper backside coverage for Trumaine Washington, but, after arriving late, blocked U of L’s CB out of bounds, giving Cortez Lewis nothing but green between the catch and the endzone for a 78 yard tally.
Reve again arrived late, and again overran the play, and again missed the tackle on Tabari Hines’ 41 yard catch and endzone scamper on WF’s second TD.3
Then there’s the D’s propensity to woof and preen. They were whistled for two consecutive major penalties, unsportsmanlike conduct and pass interference, giving up 30 yards, and putting U of L in the hole that resulted in the safety. Then there was Shaq Wiggins celebrating while running up field after the Cards last interception.
That’s John L. Smith Era kind of stuff. Not meant as a compliment.
The last two weeks have shown Todd Grantham’s defense can do enough to cover its gaffes and generally hold an inept offensively-bereft foe at bay for victory. For more praise, they’re gonna have to show me.
* * * * *
After its woeful 0-3 start, U of L has won 4 of 5, and ought to prevail in at least two of its four remaining games.
Voila, Bowl Eligible.
— Seedy K