Are we trending towards another 2018?
If this questioned hasn’t crossed your mind over the last 48 hou… No, I know this thought has crossed your mind – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having worries about a complete collapse.
Look, Louisville football fans were more than thrilled with the turnaround in 2019. However, part of that excitement was the high of winning again coming off perhaps the worst season in school history.
The bounceback under the new coaching staff was exciting to watch week-to-week, but that doesn’t mean that we are completely healed from 2018 either.
This is the same fanbase that has dealt with an FBI scandal, two NCAA investigations, the entire John Calipari era of the basketball rivalry, .9 seconds against Virginia, the Duke comeback, the Illinois State baseball collapse, the entire Kragthorpe era, William Gay, Jeremy Ito, Michael Bush’s leg… You get the gist. Every fanbase has its share of heartbreak, but Louisville fans have as much reason as anyone to be skeptical.
When 2019 felt too good to be true, we were cautiously optimistic. However, the flat start feels eerily reminiscent of that 2018 season that made us want to quit sports altogether and take up something more fun like watching shopping with our wives or… gardening?… I don’t know; name something that’s not normally super fun– That.
However, there’s still reason for hope. There’s the old adage, “your team is never as good as you think it is when things are going well or as bad as you think they are when things are going poorly”.
Yes, there are countless things Louisville football must improve going forward. However, things aren’t that different from last season. Consider that just in the Georgia Tech loss alone the Cardinals had Ean Pfeifer drop a wide-open easy touchdown pass on the first drive, then Hassan Hall fumbled to end the drive. Hall and Javian Hawkins fumbled on their own side of the field two more times. Those plays alone– Plays that, quite literally, did not happen last season– are the reason Louisville lost. The narrative is completely different if the Cardinals eeked out a road win in Atlanta and the Cardinals are 2-2 headed to South Bend.
The week prior was a similar story. Did Louisville look like world-beaters? No. But, did we expect them to be head and shoulders better than the competition, either? Nope. Pitt’s Alex Kessman, who just this week missed an extra point to straight-up lose a game against Boston College and was 0-for-3 entering the game banged home three FG’s of 42, 41, and 45 yards. Pitt’s final touchdown was on a freak fourth-down play where every player on the field thought receiver Taysir Mack was down.
The bottom line is, yes, being 0-3 in conference play is the absolute worst-case scenario, but it took a lot going wrong for the Cardinals to lose.
The same cannot be said of the 2018 season where the Cardinals were completely inept in every facet of the game. We still have a long way to go until these two seasons are even comparable.