Louisville Teases Fans In First Half, Fizzles In Second

Gotta admit, the first half had Louisville football fans excited, optimistic, more than a few wondering (or hoping) if Steve Kragthorpe may have turned a corner. The crowd of 39,948 on its feet more than during any game since a surprising win over Rutgers in the final 2007 game.

A real buzz in the concourse at halftime. The beer was flowing, life was good again.

But the 10-7 lead would quickly dissipate during the third quarter, with some familiar looking and disappointing pass coverage. Along with the lead were many of the partisans, headed for early exit.

  • Surprising: The confidence and natural leadership of quarterback Adam Froman. Would have something resembling a quarterback controversy if there weren’t so many other issues.  Intuitive, intelligent, good running and passing decisions. No interceptions, none. First in a while in a Big East game for a U of L quarterback.
  • Anemic: An offensive line unable to run block or protect the passer, giving up six sacks in the process.
  • Cornered:  Victor Anderson in the backfield, but still managing to gain 51 yards.
  • Impressive: Darius Ashley, showing lightning quickness, gaining 14 yards on three carries. Too bad about the shoulder.
  • Determined:  Joe Tronzo, having to cross the goal line a second time after a review cancels out a touchdown.
  • Unacceptable: Unnecessary unsportsmanlike penalties after good defensive plays.
  • Frustrating:  Official review that requires about four minutes to decide a play. What part of indisputable do they not understand?
  • Quotable:  Fan who said if Steve Kragthorpe stays here a fourth year, U of L might have a lead after the third quarter of a game.
  • Promising:  Attendance of 39,948, a near capacity crowd of people, the vast majority of whom  knew going U of L did not have much of a shot. May be getting to a place where fan support remains strong in spite of the won-lost record.
  • For Emphasis: That’s 39,948 for a game that was televised locally and nationally, mind you.

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Charlie Springer

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

17 thoughts on “Louisville Teases Fans In First Half, Fizzles In Second

  • October 3, 2009 at 5:58 am

    Is there any question now? I mean really. There is absolutely no improvement game to game. Our defense keeps taking a step backward. Time to send this guy to some Division III program where he will probably excell.

  • October 3, 2009 at 7:31 am

    Honestly, who still thinks this guy can turn a corner? We’ve been down that road many times before. Cinci and Rutgers in 07, USF last year and a moral victory against UK in 09. Why do some still expect a turnaround, given Kragthorpe’s history? Isn’t that the definition of insanity; trying the same thing over and over expecting different results? Don’t get me wrong, I’m still disappointed when we lose, but I do admit it doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as before.

    Gotta love the toughness of Froman. He took some major shots last night but didn’t let it phase him. Our O-line should be punished thoroughly in the next practice for subjecting him to that.

    A quick note on the attendance. I think the full capacity crowd had much more to do with the discounted ticket prices than anything else. Several local businesses were offering tickets to employees for 15 bucks a seat. If you want a real indicator of fan interest and support, count the number in the stands in the fourth quarter.

    • October 3, 2009 at 8:20 am

      You had to be there, I guess. It was nice for a while to be on top of a team that throttled us last season. But, in the end, the results speak for themselves.

      Butts in the seats. That’s what counts. National TV during an economic downturn. I’ll take it any day.

  • October 3, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Raising kids was always two steps forward and one step back. UofL football with Krag is one step forward and two steps back, probably with a false start penalty. And if I hear one more time from one more player we are only a few plays away I will throw up, hopefully in the direction of a certain coach.

    Can anyone really believe we will win more than three games this year? He can’t recruit and he can’t coach. My wife and I stayed to the bitter end with about 3,000 of our closest and dearest friends. OK, we didn’t really know them but considering they stayed and shared the misery they should count as friends. How bad was the number of people left at the end? I remember more people in the fairgrounds at the end of games Corso’s first year (but not the game Halloween weekend night — that was probably 500).

    What do you think Jurich thought when he looked at all the empty seats? Probably that he needs to paint bodies on them. We need a new direction and a new coach. The longer it takes to make a change, the deeper the hole we will have from which to climb out. Short of a phenominal hire we are at least three years away from respectability. Thanks Krags.

    • October 3, 2009 at 10:35 am

      There were empty seats before the game started but they quickly filled. The stadium only seats just under 40,000 now. I was amazed at how many people showed up.

      • October 3, 2009 at 5:17 pm

        With five minutes to go there were fewer than 8,000 people there. I counted every single one. OK, not really but I nonetheless guarantee it.

  • October 3, 2009 at 8:36 am

    CORRECTION. It was a Thanksgiving weekend night game. I think I came up with Halloween because Kragthorpe scares the hell out of me.

  • October 3, 2009 at 8:53 am

    What’s it going to take Charlie?

    What’s your tipping point on K?

    2 wins, 3? or is that “improvement”

    It’s great to be positive and supportive of team and koach, but at some point it borders on “crazy talk” …

    and that point has long ago been reached.

  • October 3, 2009 at 9:55 am

    We were there to the bitter end also last night. I didn’t even watch much of the fourth quarter, just watched the exodus of fans up the steps, talked to my sister-in-law and thought to myself I may have to break the promise I made that I would remain neutral in this Kragthorpe issue…

    Almost ready to throw that hat in the ring, Frankie.

    • October 3, 2009 at 10:02 am

      I wish SK would throw in his hat. Of course he would miss. Probably with a personal foul too boot.

      • October 3, 2009 at 10:46 am

        A golly darn good suggestion there cbcard. A great, great suggestion in fact. It’s great. I think with hat throwing, you know, it’s very similar to the game of life. In terms of, systematically speaking, the way both have so many similarities. We feel like we’re very close, programatically speaking, to achieving the kind of hat throwing everyone is looking for.

        Don’t get me wrong though, this kind of hat throwing won’t happen over night. We’re going to throw this hat the right way. We’re going to mold these young men into model hat throwers, that you’ll be proud of while throwing the hat. We soon hope to install some new wrinkles and packages into the hat in order to achieve a new schematic hat efficiency like you’ve never seen before.

        Great suggestion. Great.

  • October 3, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Frankpos is apparently back from Jamaica. Welcome back. I see the obvious Frank but I’m not about to throw mud on someone drowning. Might want to read the rest of the post if you’re drawing conclusions. I’m ready for a change but being mean-spirited is not in me.

  • October 3, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Giving up over 400 yards and being penalized nearly 100 more is a recipe for a thumping – just like the 35-10 score indicated.

    Louisville had some spurts of offense and looked good at times..BUT…the bottom-line is – we’re not competitive. We really don’t have a good offense and we certainly don’t have a good defense, especially d-backs…and our special team group just isn’t special.

    C’mon Cards, Git R Dun!!!!

    Go Cards.

  • October 5, 2009 at 8:36 am

    I believe in the general idea that new college football coaches should get at least three years, and if possible four, to put their stamp on a program.

    I also still believe that Bobby Petrino left a mess for Kragthorpe to clean up, and that he was not allowed complete freedom to hire his guys to help him put together the program he wanted (e.g., he was forced to keep the Brohms, rightly or not). On some level, I think Kragthorpe did an admirable job of bringing in assistants and kids with heart and good character, if less than national championship talent.

    But at this point supporting Coach Kragthorpe becomes very difficult. Though I see no need for some of the mean-spirited bashing (Kragstache?) found at Card Chronicle, the time to start thinking about how to best manage the transition to a new regime has come.

    I like the idea of getting someone like Tuberville, but I wonder if Jurich hasn’t already told Ron English that the job is waiting for him when he’s ready. Indeed, this may be why Kragthorpe (and some of the defensive talent English recruited) is still here–English wants a year or two at EMU before returning, but most people in the program know that he’s coming back if Kragthorpe fails.

    This lets Jurich keep his promise to give Kragthorpe three years, but makes the next transition easier.

    Just thinking out loud here. In any event, it seems that those who suspected that Kragthorpe won’t get us there may have called it correctly. If we lose to Southern Mississippi (without their stud QB) and Arkansas State, he may not last out the year.

    • October 5, 2009 at 9:02 am

      Interesting take on English. He doesn’t seem to be a likely candidate given most of what is being said by the local writers and message boards, but he is an interesting possibility regardless. I think he definitely has some of the characteristics we are looking for, i.e. hard working, fire, respectability etc. My main question is can he bring in the necessary assistants to have a potent offense?

      Before Krags first season, there was hype for making a run at the national championship. This came from both the coach and the athletic departement. Do you agree?

      After the Syracuse loss in 07, we began to hear about the “problems” that SK inherited from both the Athletic Department and from Koach.

      Why, if these problems did truly exist, did our Athletic Department hype a national championship season? Why did the coach do it? They must have known they were setting up everyone for disappointment, right? Why didn’t we hear about the problems when K first arrived?

  • October 5, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Whatever went on behind the scenes, I would not have expected the brand-new football coach to do anything other than show optimism for the possibilities during his first season. He had, after all, inherited a team that came literally one good drive away from playing for (and probably winning) the national championship the year before.

    So I don’t know why you would expect him to air the program’s dirty laundry. This would have helped no one before the season started, cutting into player and fan enthusiasm alike. And once the struggles began, we would all have accused him of making excuses.

    The man had no choice but to try fixing things. That he could not get it done is obvious in hindsight, but not so clear three years ago based only on the “why didn’t someone say something” argument.

    • October 5, 2009 at 9:55 am

      Optimism yes, but claiming to make a run at the title? I think most will agree that any transition takes time and there will be bumps along the way. I wasn’t expecting a duplicate of the previous season during K’s first year. My honest expectations were 9-3 and a good bowl performance. Most people realize that it takes time to install new philosophies and systems. However, when you have the AD and coach speaking about title runs, people get more excited and raise their expectations.

      I wouldn’t expect for a coach to arrive and immediately throw the players under the bus. Not exactly the best way to gain the respect of the players and fans. However, my point is that since they certainly haven’t had a problem doing in since the Syracuse game, why not from the beginning?

      Bottom line is that if there truly were problems that K inherited, the AD had two basic options:

      1. Manage fan expectations and keep the problems out of the media. Have optimism for the upcoming season, but DO NOT allude to a national championship.

      2. Air the dirty laundry and provide actual facts to fans on what went wrong.

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