Louisville embarrassed on national stage in loss against Houston

By on November 17, 2016

By Dalton Ray–

Looking to prove they belong in the College Football Playoffs, the fifth-ranked Louisville Cardinals disappointed fans as the Houston Cougars upset them 36-10.

The Cardinals were out-played and out-coached in every aspect of the game.

Nothing went Louisville’s way on either side of the ball. Between making easy catches, blocking assignments and making dominant tackles, Louisville failed to execute. The Cardinals allowed 11 sacks and didn’t reach 350 total yards. The offensive performance is the worst Louisville has displayed all year. The Cards also committed 16 penalties and three turnovers.

The Louisville defense allowed 298 yards through the air and were gashed multiple times. The defense couldn’t get key stops consistently and failed to force a turnover.

When Cardinal fans didn’t think they could see a worst start to a game after Wake Forest, they were quickly proven otherwise. Louisville fumbled the opening kick-off and Houston recovered. The Cougars scored on one play and the Cards are down seven 11 seconds into the game.

When the offense finally hits the field, Louisville jumped off-sides. Three plays later, the offense is trotting off the field after an incompletion. Fumbles and penalties have been the mantra for U of  L all season, and that didn’t change against Houston.

Louisville got their first big play of the game when Jackson found Jaylen Smith. But just like against WF, Louisville fumbled the ball the next play.

Defensively in the first quarter, the Cardinals didn’t go after quarterback Greg Ward Jr. Their blitzes focused on keeping Ward contained and took the aggression out of their rush. Playing conservative hurt U of L, as they gave Ward space to make plays.

Once again put in a bad situation by the offense, the defense held Houston to a field goal. After one quarter, Louisville committed four penalties, fumbled twice and allowed 10 points off turnovers.

Like last year’s loss to Houston, Todd Grantham’s defense struggled at stopping Houston’s fast pace offense. The Cards simply didn’t have an answer to the misdirection plays Houston provided.

After a fake punt granted Houston a first down, the Cougars scored on a tipped pass. The score dropped U of L down 17-0. Louisville responded with a 35-yard pass to Traveon Samuel, but it was negated with a holding penalty. After a drop on third down, the Cards punted again.

Houston didn’t have any problems marching down the field against Grantham’s defense as they extended their lead to 24-0 in the second quarter. Louisville’s first half consisted of penalties, dropped passes, turnovers and allowing big plays. The Cardinals trailed 31-0 at the half, their largest deficit of the season.

Louisville came out of the half playing exactly how they needed two. The Cards got a stop on defense, scored then got another stop. But Louisville couldn’t get out of their own way. On a run inside the Houston 15 yard line, Jackson fumbled and the Cougars recovered.

In the third quarter, U of L dominated everything but the scoreboard. The Louisville offense finally got going, but couldn’t score more than once. For the first time all night, Bobby Petrino got Cole Hikutini involved and gave Jackson designed run opportunities. By the start of the fourth quarter, Louisville trailed 31-10.

Louisville stopped Houston on a huge fourth down, but once again allowed a sack. Houston’s ninth sack of the game caused the Cardinals to punt with eight minutes to go. To cap things off for U of L, Jackson was tagged with a saftey due to an intentional grounding in the endzone.

Houston effectively bled the clock during the remainder of the fourth quarter. Louisville simply couldn’t produce and fell into a hole they couldn’t dig themselves out of.

Now 9-2, Louisville’s playoff hopes are officially dead. The Cardinals host rival Kentucky on Nov. 26 to close the regular season.

Photo by Dalton Ray / The Louisville Cardinal

About Dalton Ray

Sports editor (2016-2018) that is technically award winning.Email: dray@louisvillecardinal.com

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