The Cardinals traveled down to Coral Gables, Fl. seeking a victory to attain bowl eligibility. What they received was a far cry from an invitation to a bowl game. They received a dose of reality. The reality that sometimes it’s just not your day.
Now it’s time to see what the Cards are made of. How you respond after facing adversity is the truest measure of who you are.
So what happened in Miami? Was it just bad luck? Was it a big difference in talent? Did the lack of depth finally start to rear its ugly head? Was it a lack of focus? Was it as simple as facing a good team?
I’ll tell you what I think it was but what I know for sure is that the team I saw playing Miami was not the same team I’ve been watching in the previous eight games.
I believe the product we saw on the field in Miami was caused by the perfect storm of a multitude of things and is the outlier of the season rather than a precursor to what we will see in the final three games.
The first thing has nothing to do with Louisville, but everything to do with Miami. Miami was playing a home game that was Homecoming as well as senior night. Miami had 13 seniors playing their final home regular-season game – emotions were high. Miami was also coming off of a big conference victory over rival Florida State. Yes, FSU is down but they are still in-state rivals and beating them really seemed to bring some value back to a season that wasn’t quite meeting expectations. And let’s not forget that despite not having the great season that they were expecting, their defense was still only giving up 18 points per game. Miami’s defense appeared to intimidate Louisville a little bit, which seemed odd since they played great against upper level defenses like Clemson and Virginia. The only difference is that those were home games.
The second thing was penalties. Louisville had 14 penalties. Bobby would be proud but that was very uncharacteristic for this version of Louisville football. When you are playing a team with a more talented roster, you can’t afford to be sloppy or make untimely mistakes. The Cards did exactly that. They gave up 121 yards on those 14 penalties when they only averaged about 50 penalty yard a game. Again making this game seem more like an outlier. The good news is that all those mistakes are fixable and not something that will be the norm.
Saying that turnovers are a reason seems like common knowledge but it’s worth stating that it’s hard to overcome 3 turnovers, especially in a road conference game.
Special teams was not a bright spot either after being solid all year.
I know many of you get upset when I say the team lacks depth, especially on defense but the lack of depth really showed against Miami. I can’t help but think having a few more bodies could have helped. Especially if those bodies were Jon Greenard, TreSean Smith, Allen Love and Mike Boykin.
Something I’ve been thinking about a lot as another reason for the uncharacteristic performance was the fact that many players were back home or close to home. I know in the past, whenever Louisville went to play in South Florida, many players spent too much time with their old friends and that they weren’t really focused on the game like they should have been. Also, in the past, it was said that the coaches spent more time recruiting or visiting local players than actually preparing for the game with the team. I don’t think this staff is like that but it is a great chance to visit recruits.
Whatever the reason for the poor performance, let’s keep that in Miami.
Time to put it in the rearview mirror and move forward.
As always, GO CARDS!