Painful to watch, Louisville football unable to handle adversity or prosperity

Sorry, but this observer had no choice but to turn the TV channel to another station during the third quarter. The football game was a disaster.

LSU’s dominance of the University of Louisville during the Citrus Bowl confirmed what many had suspected: This UofL football team had fallen from being a national title contender in October to one with zero confidence or aspirations in December.

Lots of symptoms, problems affecting the team’s psyche, with no logical reasons for what appeared to be a near total collapse.

— Probably the weakest offensive line in all of college football, unable to provide any blocking or protection for the quarterback or running backs.

— A team with the largest number of sacks and fumbles in college football. A team that couldn’t didn’t value possessions, unable to hang onto footballs. Turning sure things into unpredictable mishaps.

— A quarterback,  winner of the prestigious Heisman Trophy, unable to call an audible, read a defense or escape a pass rush. Hurrying his passes even when not challenged, unable to hit open receivers, not knowing when to throw the ball away, even while standing in his own end zone.

Something about the composition of this team that couldn't handle adversity or prosperity.

— A coach labeled as an offensive genius unable to make offensive adjustments, forcing his quarterback to keep going long, resulting in a steady diet of hits, sacks and negative yardage. A three-game losing streak to end the most promising season in the school’s history

— A defensive backfield riddled with injuries, providing easy pickings for quarterbacks from Houston, Kentucky and LSU. Need points? Just go to the air against Louisville. Even Jaire Alexander, a second team all-ACC cornerback, resorting to pass interference, still unable to prevent receptions.

This observer has seen a lot of football over six decades, including numerous seasons when many games were over for UofL at the end of the first half. Not many expectations for teams during the first five-and-a-half decades but always optimism that things would get better.

And they did get better, with UofL winning a BCS Orange Bowl in 2007 and a BCS Sugar Bowl in 2013. This year was set to be extra special, with Louisville in the top 10 for much of the season, third for a week or so, fifth and sixth over a couple of weeks. A matter of taking care of business and UofL would have been in contention for the playoffs, possibly a national title.

Something about the composition of this team that couldn’t handle adversity or prosperity. Games against inferior competition became harder, more difficult to win, some decided in the last quarter, one on the final play. Finally, down the stretch they were unable to stop anybody but themselves.

What a letdown, so disappointing. Difficult to fault the fan base for not traveling to Orlando for the Citrus Bowl. Or to blame those watching the final football game on TV for wanting to change the channel. Just too painful to watch, the final chapter in what was once a very promising season.