With the rugged schedule the University of Louisville football team was confronted with during the first three weeks, the start of the 2015 season was either going to be sensational or awful. Prospects for the latter are looming large after UofL dropped its home opener to Houston 34-31 on Saturday.
The lack of clear leadership at quarterback, an inexperienced offensive line, a wide receiving corps of all freshmen, and a defense that lost nine people in the National Football League draft are dampening much of the pre-season optimism.
Enthusiasm for the game, both from the Louisville players and the fans, was not helped with a noon kickoff time. Many fans apparently choosing to sleep late, unable to get excited about playing a team from the American Athletic Conference, a crowd of 50,019 in attendance. Coach Bobby Petrino would state afterwards that his players were not sharp or focused.
What transpired was what many had feared, lots of offense with little defense, lots of miscues and turnovers, teams trading touchdowns. The kind of game that exposed some glaring weaknesses for UofL. Most unfortunately exposing a Louisville defense unable to keep Houston from converting on third downs. Freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson looking all too human with a tendency of throwing into crowds, resulting in two interceptions. Fumbling without being hit at one point.
Coach Bobby Petrino, for a second straight game, seeming to change quarterbacks a bit too late, waiting until the third quarter to insert Kyle Bolin when it was clear Jackson wasn’t having one of his better days. Jackson may be the future but this is the here and now.
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Petrino may want to reconsider always being on the receiving end of the opening kickoff. The current edition of his offense doesn’t appear to be ready coming out of the gate.
Three and out on the first series of downs Saturday against Houston,setting up the Cougars on their 49-yard line, needing only six plays for their first touchdown. Last week, Auburn intercepting a Lamar Jackson pass on the first play from scrimmage, setting up on the UofL 26, and scoring five plays later.
Too much to learn on the offensive line, at the wide receiver positions and at quarterback to warrant that kind of optimism. And if the defense is supposed to be the team’s strength, he might want to let them prove it early on.
Another ugly beginning, starting off in a hole, setting an uncertain tone, not inspiring confidence for a team needing a major boost of positivity right now.