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. 

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By Charlie Springer

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

5 thoughts on “Dark cloud over Cardinal Stadium keeps getting bigger”
  1. We haven’t seen a Cardinal Football squad so seemingly powerless to stop an opponent that’s visiting our home turf since those doors opened at Cardinal Stadium in 1998.

    Done with blaming. Done with finger pointing and innuendo. This team has had to endure enough of that already this season.

    What I’d like to see is a team that can come out the rest of the year and just play smart, focused football. That can be coached rationally and effectively.

    Maybe that’s too much to ask. A tough trip to Boston next. Then, a Wake Forest team that may need a couple of weeks to recover from the 63-3 beatdown applied by Clemson. Oh, yes…Clemson waits for the Cards on Nov. 3rd. Then to Syracuse for a Friday night fight against a Syracuse team that has played people tough all season. You want more ? Ending the season with NC State (who is 5-0 right now) visiting Cardinal Stadium and ending the season by hosting a certain Lexington school who may have their best squad since the late 1970’s.

    No Cardinal Red colored glasses here. No pie-in-the-sky optimism. I just want to see a team that competes every down. That maybe develops a bit of creativity. If it’s to be a 2-10 season, at least make it a season where the effort was well-intended and genuine.

    I’ll be there for the final three home contest. I’ll be in my seat until the final of each game. No matter the score, weather or mind frame, I stay. I support. I just want something to cheer about.


    1. Leave it to Paul to bring the voice of reason. Have to wonder where all the fight went during the off-season. How does a guy like Jaylen Smith suddenly become pretty much a non-factor?

  2. We know he [Bobby] can coach and we have seen him adapt to different styles of quarterbacks, running backs, and recievers so what confuses me and obviously everyone else is why and how this happened. These are his players in year #5 and they are his coaches that he picked. The results are all on the head coach and I am still a fan of his and the Cardinals which could never waiver even after the last couple of years. I just need to see some improvement not necessarily wins but show us that they care as much about U of L as we do. From the coaches to the players to the A.D. I just want to see that you want to be here and are willing to lay it all on the line on every play, it is as much about heart and pride now as it is about ability.

    1. Good thoughts, Matt. Have to wonder how much all the disruption from the stadium and football training center expansions may have affected the routines of the coaches and players. Or possibly whether the grandeur and luxury of the new looks could have affected attitudes. Just some thoughts.

      1. Charlie, ‘attitudes’ says it all. The attitudes have collapsed–for many players and coaches both.

        A word to the players–don’t stop until the whistle blows. Don’t mail it in–get involved in the action and stay involved until the end. A few are trying their best, but are being let down by the players who are not. It is quite visible to the fans.

        A word to the coaching staff–quit mailing out resumes and contacting old coaching buddies and DO THE JOB YOU HAVE NOW. The Cards game has collapsed, and you are acting like spectators, not coaches committed to winning–or at least doing your best while you are here. Where is your pride in a job well done? What school will hire slackers? Right now, it looks like we did.

        Final note on recruiting–other schools in the state (who shall not be named) are cleaning our clock. Or we are getting great kids and not developing them properly. Either way, it is time for changes. Now. Let the fur fly. Now.

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