Louisville CardFile: Kentucky

CardHelmetWhen the University of Louisville faithful are sitting around in the future, reliving beloved interludes from the past when the Cardinals were rockin’ on the good foot, they will not mention Thanksgiving Weekend 2016.

Hardwood meltdown in the Bahamas.

Which was trumped when the Cards were outcoached, outfocused, outperformed and generally punched in the solar plexus by an improving Kentucky football team that was not about to lose its sixth rivalry battle in a row.

Mark Stoops and his staff outcoached Bobby Petrino and his.

UK had a great game plan, and never wavered. They were able to pass on the Cards. They were able to run on the Cards. They were able to defend the Cards.

Stephen Johnson — Stephen Johnson??? — outplayed Lamar Jackson.

Johnson was 16/27 in the air for 338 yards, three TDs, and a pick of little consequence in the first half. His QB rating was 193.7. Which was 32.9 points better than that of the Cards’ Heisman hopeful. The unheralded Johnson also toted the ball 8 times for 83 yards.

Lamar Jackson was 16/25 passing for 281 yards and 2 TDs. But he threw three interceptions. One was in the red zone late, when he threw too hard for Cole Hikutini to catch it. He rushed 25 times for 171 yards. But late, with less than two minutes to play, with the score knotted, with the Cardinals 1st and Goal and victory 9 yards away, Jackson fumbled when forced to scramble because of the last of the offensive line’s many failures on the day.

Kentucky’s defense was more stalwart than Louisville’s.

U of L missed too many tackles and gave up too many big plays. Big passing plays. Big running plays. And, with the game on the line, and OT beckoning if they could get a stop, they could not, allowing UK to drive from its own 10 for a winning FG in a minute and a half.

Kentucky’s offensive line outplayed Louisville’s offensive line.

U of L had zero sacks and only 4 TFLs. UK had 3 sacks and 8 TFLs.

 * * * * *

I can think of several plays, one at the end of the opening half, which had they gone the other way might have given Louisville the momentum necessary to deflate Kentucky.

But they did not.

So, there’s really no reason to look at this game under a microscope.

Kentucky played better with a better game plan and deserved to win.

Which they did.

 * * * * *

When looking back at the entire campaign, it appears the demolition of Florida State might have been a false positive.

Other than a gallant but losing effort at Clemson, and acknowledging a couple of blow outs over lesser teams not ready for Lamar, Louisville’s game on both sides of the ball regressed as the season progressed.

Which is to say that in retrospect U of L was overrated. By its fans. By Vegas. By the pollsters.

Absurd expectations with unrealistic point spreads ensued. So too fumbles — more than any team in the land — and penalties.

Louisville — the players and the coaches — weren’t ready for prime time, weren’t able to perform as the spotlight got brighter.

When the defeat to rival Kentucky was becoming increasingly inevitable in the 4th Q, I got a text from my pal Doc.

“A November to forget.”

— Seedy K

15 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Kentucky

  1. The last two losses fall squarely on the coaching staff and today on Grantham more than the others. How can an alledged A list staff fail so miserably two weeks in a row to prepare and motivate a football team for arguably its two most important games of the season. Division II

  2. Why does Bama constantly win? The line on both sides of the ball. Which is why U of L was exposed as the season went on. The lines broke down. Yes there a few players of quality but not many and no depth. Too many minutes on mediocre players led to the mess of the last two games. Plus Seedy is correct. The coaching staff in the last two games was made to look as if their homework was unopened and neglected. Bad return for the money invested.

  3. A great saying in sports is. ‘”It’s not how you start but how you finish. ” Taking this season as a whole, Louisville slid downhill from the Clemson game through this thoroughly awful performance against Kentucky. They did not finish.

  4. Bobby Petrino has some serious soul-searching to do, if that’s even possible. An abysmal performance and terrible damn weekend for the Cards. At the expense of sounding small and bitter and inebriated, I think Todd Grantham is mediocre and overpaid. His defense sucked today, again. I hope Lamar can close the deal on the Heisman, despite the coaching malpractice these last two weeks. Although flawed, I thought he was spectacular today. [The Cats are getting much better under Stoops.]

  5. I don’t buy that the Florida State game was a false positive. They were ranked #2. We beat them quickly and soundly. We beat them because the coaching staff had all summer to prepare for that game. My quess is, on their side, they took us lightly. Their coaches did not have them ready. But looking back, that game was a pivotal game for both teams. FSU turned their season around. In a sense, we did too, just not in the right direction. Last night FSU soundly beat Florida and, I’m guessing, will supplant Louisville in the rankings. Louisville was looking past Houston and either just mailed it in against KY or, again, were not prepared. I refuse to believe that properly prepared, they should have lost to KY. Hats off to the Cats and their staff. But UL, with the same players that beat FSU, were not prepared for UK, for whatever reason.

  6. When the defense gives up almost 100 points and almost 1000 yards in last two games its time to think about a new defensive coach. How about bringing back Charlie Strong now that he is on the “dole”? No matter how many mistakes the offense made they scored enough points in the last two games to win, period end of discussion. Lack of defense cost us in the Bahamas and in Papa Johns. Now on to a mediocre bowl game!!!!!!

  7. My reply post from August 17th regarding this season CFP possibilities:
    As for the heights reached by this year’s squad? I will be out there cheering them on, but call me guardedly optimistic; for now, ‘I’m from Missouri’. They will have to ‘show me’ on the field. I will be delighted with 10-2.

    Clearly, none of us are delighted. With a legit Heisman candidate, we are 9-3; without him, we would be 7-5 at best. The O-line let us down most of the year, and the defense let us down half the year. Coaches Klenakis & Grantham (and BP) got some ‘splainin’ to do.

    Other boards have referred to our blitzes as 1st & Grantham or 3rd & Grantham; since the other team knows how we operate, they run past our blitzes, or pass underneath to a wide open middle.

    I was at the Norte Dame game in 2014; before the game, this college aged student came up to me and, paraphrasing, said “you’ll like Grantham’s D at first, but by year 3 or 4, you’ll want him out like Georgia fans did”. It feels like some strange vision now looking back on it, but I hope it’s not true.

    BTW, congrats to UK, they deserved the win; they outplayed us AND out coached us.

    As for the bowl? I was always worried that we would lose, since CBP is on a loss-win-loss cycle every year he has been our coach (it’s true, look it up); maybe if we go to a ‘lesser’ bowl, we might have a chance to break pattern. Sadly, I’m not sure.

  8. Smart Guy, I agree, Cards should have beaten both Houston and Kentucky. By “false positive,” I meant, as good as U of L is/ should have been, I think that Florida State performance was an anomaly, that U of L is not really a legit CFP contender this year. OL too sketchy. D — and D Coordinator — not as good as we believed. Petrino, for all his offensive acumen, perhaps not yet with championship coaching chops. He didn’t have his team ready when on the cusp of the Final Four. That’s a big part of his coaching job.

  9. Love the idea of Charlie Strong returning as Defensive Coordinator. Not that there’s a chance it would happen.

  10. This season was like watching the movie Memento, where the end was first and the beginning was last. The Cards started slow and ended with a flurry of big victories and the near defeat of a top-ranked opponent. Except it wasn’t.

    1. Redstein, looking back on the last two weeks, I feel as though I’ve been watching “Groundhog Day”.

  11. Petrino and Grantham are paid two many $$$ to have two consecutive meltdowns and allow what was a great season go down the drain. I won’t be satisfied until I hear some explanation from the football complex

  12. We left 21 points on the field and still had enough points to win. The defense in a number of games sucked. Teams have figured out how to beat rush 3 and drop 8. Other teams third down conversations are becoming automatic.

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