The symbolism was just too obvious to ignore. That dark cloud over Cardinal Stadium appearing just before kickoff. Growing larger and larger by the minute, eventually engulfing the entire complex. Something bad was coming.
And it would not be good for the University of Louisville football program. A team looking to recover from a down-to-the-wire loss to Florida State, with a coach desperately needing something to build on. The vibes unmistakably ominous, but there is no turning back.
Coach Bobby Petrino, true to form, choosing to go on offense again at kickoff. A nice 22-yard pass play from Puma Pass to Mickey Crum on the opening play. The last sign of life for a while, though, the Cardinals wasting the next three downs, then throwing an incomplete pass on fourth down.
Giving up the ball to Georgia Tech on the 50-yard line, the Yellow Jackets needing only five plays to get on the scoreboard. The route was on, and an uncontested Georgia Tech would roll to a 21-0 lead after the first quarter. Everyone in the crowd of 51,658 knew the game was over.
By the time it was really over, Georgia Tech had outscored 66-31 in one of the worst losses for Louisville in Cardinal Stadium. The Cardinals were never in it, and the outlook for the rest of the season is bleak.
The UofL defense was totally unprepared for Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense, leaking yards by the dozen play after play. The Yellow Jackets would rack up 542 yards while allowing the Cardinals only 113. Georgia Tech had so much confidence in its ground game that it threw only two passes all night long, completing one for 12 yards.
If there was anything encouraging for UofL, it was Puma Pass completing 23 of 35 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. No interceptions in this game. Signs of progress, yes. No indications of significant leadership abilities quite yet.
One almost has to feel sorry for Coach Bobby Petrino. His reputation as an offensive genius diminishing with every game in recent memory. He is going through a coach’s nightmare right now and there seems to be no way to break through the gloom. Somewhere along the way the offensive juggernaut that was Louisville football has gone off the track. Petrino has lost the golden ticket and it’s going to be very difficult to get it punched again.
A long-time fan, who will have attended almost every game this season, at home and on the road, said this year’s team reminds him of Ron Cooper’s final team in 1997, a team that finished 2-10 and got him fired. “That team had a lot of good players but it also had several coaches with no idea of what they were doing,” he said. “I can’t see this team winning another game.”
That enormous black cloud at kickoff was not a coincidence.