--By Mike Gilpatrick
--Photo by Seth Spalding
It’s officially panic time for the Louisville Cardinals.
After leading 21-7 at halftime, the Cardinals sputtered against Florida State, and a pair of late interceptions gave the Seminoles the 28-24 victory. While the picks didn’t help, Louisville scored only three points in the second half, and left at least three touchdowns on the field.
And that was against a bad Florida State team.
To make matters worse, Virginia, whom Louisville layed an egg against in Week four; lost to NC State 35-21. The Cavaliers trailed 20-7 at halftime.
Nothing’s going right currently for Bobby Petrino and company. The offensive play-calling Petrino was famous for during his first stint is nonexistent in 2018. The Cardinals can’t score in the post-Lamar Jackson era- they’re averaging 18.4 points per game.
Louisville ranks in the bottom half in offense and defense in the FBS. They’re 121st overall in offense, and 75th in total defense.
Petrino is at fault. The Charlie Strong-era holdovers are gone. The Cardinals on the field were recruited by Bobby Petrino. Offensive plays are called almost exclusively by Petrino. The past two defensive coordinator hires are also on him. Peter Sirmon couldn’t stop anyone on defense; and VanGorder; while marginally better, still gives up a ridiculously high third-down conversion percentage.
Louisville’s defense went from a team that gave up an average of 23 points per game under Todd Grantham, to 27.4 and 26.0, respectively. There’s probably a few people wishing Grantham wasn’t traded to Mississippi State.
The reason for the drop-off isn’t clear. Multiple reasons could be at fault, and not many know why.
Regardless, Petrino should at least finish out the season, and next season; before Louisville considers making a change. If the current trend continues, this would be the first year Louisville doesn’t make a bowl game while in the ACC. With as many changes the team underwent; with the offense getting used to a quarterback that isn’t Jackson, and the defense settling to VanGorder’s style; it could take time for the personnel to succeed.
One silver lining during last week’s loss against Florida State was the 21 points scored in the first half. That was one thing the Cardinals have struggled with. Also during the first half, Jawon Pass used his legs, and actually looked like a dual threat quarterback.
If the Cardinals could look like they did in the first half against FSU for an entire game, they could be a good team.
It’s panic time, but the Cardinals could turn it around. They face Georgia Tech on Friday.