A picture is worth a thousand words and this one speaks volumes, including the four letter explicative screamed out by Louisville defensive tackle Lorenzo Mauldin after the 38-35 loss to UCF. In this picture Mauldin clearly has UCF running back William Stanback in his grasp, however the Louisville defense just couldn’t hold on to protect a 21 point 3rd quarter lead. I’m not putting this on the defense and I am most certainly not putting in on the players. The root of this loss and overall deteriorating team performance is three-fold, an inability to finish, a very predictable offensive scheme, and a lack of significant second half adjustments.
The Louisville football team has not been the same since halftime at Temple. The offense sputtered in the second half against the Owls only generating two field goals, then struggled to get back in rhythm against Rutgers putting up only 7 points in the second half. After looking at the last three outings by this team there is one common thread, an inability to put together a complete game. 60 minutes of their best effort, both players and coaches.
UCF deserves a lot of credit here. George O’Leary is a great coach, fiery, and inspirational. He said after the game ”We tell our kids to never, never give up,” O’Leary said. “Our kids were jumping to the music. I knew we were going to be OK. ”We had a couple of good things happen, and it lit a fire.”… He continued ”Obviously, it’s a big win. It’s a big win because of the conference. We had great effort and great execution. … We could have hung our heads, but we got after it.” The UCF Offensive line was HUGE. They controlled the line of scrimmage most of the game. UCF Quarterback Blake Bortles put in a strong performance, passing 21/32 250 yrds 2 TD 1 INT. Running backs Storm Johnson and William Stanback created a two-headed monster rushing attack that totaled 195 yards on the game.
This is a devastating loss for the University of Louisville Football program with regards to expectations (and there lies the base of the root of the problems). I believe we all will agree Teddy Bridgewater is not the Heisman favorite and may even miss the trip to New York altogether. The Cardinals will not have an undefeated season. We will need to win out and UCF to lose two games to get the automatic BCS conference bid. All three were the key accomplishments that the Cardinal faithful had expected. Cardinal fans are deflated and dejected. Many who defended Strong’s “no apologies” response to the Rutgers performance are now questioning the coaches ability to be honest about his team. You can only correct a problem once you allow yourself to realize it IS a problem.
I will close with what I believe is the real issue: the expectations created around the program and I want to start with Teddy Bridgewater. He didn’t want a Heisman campaign but was thrust into the conversation after gutsy and gritty play last season and huge numbers this year. Looking at our schedule how could you not expect this team, loaded with talent and great coaching, to go undefeated. But was this the expectation of Coach Strong and staff? Was this on their list of goals? Then of course the hope back to back BCS appearances with the possibility of a National Championship appearance. Were these things IN THE CARDS? With regards to expectations, I will leave you with a quote from Charlie Strong about managing expectation in an interview with Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich of WDRB:
“This season, I think about USC last year. Barkley — Teddy. They had a transfer running back in from Penn State, we just had a running back transfer in. Wide receiver? They had them all. Think about those wide receivers they had. We got the same wide receivers. Defensively? They had a good defense. And look what happened to them. And they started No. 1. And they didn’t even finish in the top 25. That could be us. You look at it, if we allow that to happen, that will be us. Let’s not become the USC of this season.”
Topics: Charlie Strong, Eric Crawford, Football, Louisvile Cardinals, Louisville, Louisville Cardinals, Louisville Cardinals Football, Louisville Football, Rick Bozich, Teddy Bridgewater, UCF, Undefeated, University Of Central Florida, University Of Louisville, UofL