By Dalton Ray–
In their seventh straight bowl game, No. 13 Louisville was dominated by No. 20 LSU in the Citrus Bowl. The injury-riddled Cardinals fell 29-9. The Cards started the year 9-1 but ended on a three-game losing streak.
Louisville didn’t stand a chance against the Tigers as the Cardinals only totaled 220 yards. The only points put on the board were by kicker Blanton Creque, who nailed all three of his field goals.
U of L allowed eight sacks and let up 374 total yards. Louisville failed to hit 100 yards rushing for the first time all season. Heisman winner Lamar Jackson totaled 186 yards, his lowest of the season, and didn’t score a touchdown for the first time all year.
In a defensive game, LSU and Louisville didn’t allow many big plays. Derrius Guice ripped off a 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and ended with 138 yards on 26 carries. Danny Etling ended the day with 217 yards on 16-for-29 passing and two touchdowns. Malachi Dupre pulled in seven catches for 139 yards.
Struggling up front
U of L’s biggest issue has been the inconsistency on the offensive line. Against LSU, the line struggled even more.
In the first half alone, Louisville allowed six sacks and rushed for under 20 yards. The Tigers remarked the line of scrimmage and didn’t allow Jackson to pass the ball or have any rushing lanes. The high-scoring offense couldn’t get going with the swarming and physical play of LSU.
Losing the field position battle
U of L had only three drives that began past their own 30-yard line. All three ended in a field goal while the others ended with a punt, including six three-and-outs, and one safety. Of Louisville’s first 10 drives, seven started inside of their own 25-yard line. LSU began five of their first 11 drives from their 40-yard line.
LSU’s defense smothered U of L throughout the game. Due to poor field position, Louisville couldn’t get into their successful offensive sets.
One of the most explosive offenses in the nation, Jackson and company were bogged down by the nation’s eighth best defense. Short gains on first down, dropped passes and little protection from the offensive line combined for a long day.
Jackson found Quick for a big pass early in the game but that was the lone spark from the offense. When U of L started to build momentum, a dropped pass or sack killed it. The special teams got a lot of work as Louisville punted the ball eight times and kicked three field goals. Louisville struggled to stay on the field, going 2-for-16 on third down and failed to convert on their first 14 attempts.
Photos by Nancy Hanner / The Louisville Cardinal