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.
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.