Tis season of second guessing for Louisville football

Dae Williams scores the second of two touchdowns, this one putting Louisville the lead over Western Kentucky. Top Photo: Malik Cunningham was UofL’s leading ground gainer with 135 yards on 21 carries. (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Going to be a long week for the University of Louisville football program, the coaches, the players and the fans who closely follow the team. Lots of second guessing, hind sight expertise, and unbridled bashing of the coaching staff.

The most questionable issue was Coach Bobby Petrino’s decision early in the second quarter to go for it on fourth-and-three on his team’s 32-yard line. Quarterback Malik Cunningham would be tagged for no gain and Western Kentucky would score three plays later and go ahead 14-0.

Coach Bobby Petrino more than a little disappointed after eking out a three-point win over Western Kentucky. UofL was a 24-point favorite (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Petrino obviously frustrated with the lack of a running game at that point. Stubborn, not believing what he was seeing, gambling and losing, putting his team in a hole. Disbelief among many UofL fans in the crowd of 54,923, what was going on down there?

The coach was already being second-guessed for his decision to start Jawan Pass at quarterback and another lackluster performance. No pass completions in three attempts, one of them an interception. His team would have only one yard rushing before Pass was jerked after the first quarter.

Questions about the ineffectiveness of the offensive line, a line averaging 315 pounds, the unit with the most experience, expected to provide a major advantage this season. A sieve at times, the Cardinals struggling for yardage, managing only 292 offensive yards compared to 428 for WKU.

The defense, missing stalwart linebackers Jonathan Greenard and Dorian Etheridge, repeatedly unable to stop Western Kentucky, especially on numerous third down plays. Miraculously blocking a field goal attempt that would enable Louisville to eventually claim the 20-17 victory.

Alex Kupper, a WHAS radio color commentator and former UofL tackle, bemoaning a lack of sense of urgency, intensity or accountability, suggesting the season ahead could be a long one for Louisville football. Fortunately for him that he wasn’t in Petrino’s presence.

Then there are the questions about the youth and inexperienced coaches on the UofL staff, at least three of them related to the head coach. Plus a rising tide of criticism about the inability of some coaches to work with Petrino. And, finally, questions about Bobby 1.0 and Bobby 2.0, a lack of discipline, and disorganization. Concern that things are going south quick, even though the Cardinals have won two of their first three games.

Petrino has been here before, three years ago Louisville having lost the first three games before winning seven of the last eight and a bowl appearance. “No question about it, we’re not a very good football team right now,” he said afterwards. “We’ve got to get a lot better.” He’s not one for wishful thinking so his team can expect some challenging practice sessions this week.

The future always always seems to be the most bleak after a loss, but in this case UofL is coming off two consecutive wins. Some ominous signs sending the Monday morning quarterbacks into disarray early in the season.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

5 thoughts on “Tis season of second guessing for Louisville football”

  1. I also heard Kupper’s post-game assessment: very succinct, specific points that seemed difficult to dispute. It’s almost like they’re waiting for Lamar to appear and, once again, bail them out. Winning without him just takes too much concentration and hard work!

  2. Many, many years ago, I was a varsity football coach at Tuslaw High School at Massillon, Ohio. Whenever the famed Massillon Washington High School (23 times Ohio football champions and the home of Paul Brown) would interview a new possible head football coach they would always ask this question. “It is the fourth quarter. Your team is down by 6 points. There is two minutes left in the game. You have the ball on your own 20-yard line. It is fourth and two for a first down. What would you do?”
    The only correct answer was, “Punt the ball”. Allot of good possible things can happen, when you punt the football. 1 – The receiver may fumble the football. 2 – There might be a penalty on the receiving team and we secure our first down by penalty. 3 – The other team may fumble the football on their next four downs and we will recover the football closer to our goal line. 4. We still have time-outs to provide our offense to get back onto the football field and score. 5 – We may be able to run the other teams punt back for a touchdown, kick the extra point, and win the football game.
    No candidate was ever hired if they said, “I will run our best play and hope to gain the extra yardage needed”.

  3. Okay, I’ll take the other side of this. (Not unusual, eh?)
    I saw in this move a challenge by the coach to tell the guys to step up. Yeah, they failed to do so, agreed there. Haven’t you former players ever been told to step up or sit down? Bobby got the answer, and I’d hate to be at practice this week. Some guys will be told to step down, is my guess.

  4. Bobby was in pure panic in WKU game. I do not think he is the coach he used to be. If does stop the current train wreck quickly. He so will be on the “Hot Seat” with the fans pouring gas on him. I think, he should go coach Trinity.

  5. I am very concerned about the mental condition of Puma.He has not gotten the job done and the burden is not his alone.Due to the weather conditions during the Indiana State game we will discount that game.Watching the replay of the Western game I noticed three dropped passes by good receivers,missed blocks by offensive lineman and panic on the sideline.I hope tha Puma keeps his head up and practices hard because sometime this year we will need him and he will be given a chance to become the starting quarterback again.To win big in the A.C.C. we need him.

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