September 3, 2018

TLC sports staff reacts to football’s season opening loss

By staff —

In a contest that was never close, top ranked Alabama crushed football 51-14. This was the Cards’ second season opening loss to a SEC team since 2015.

Head coach Bobby Petrino said his squad was ready for the matchup, but statistics said otherwise. The Crimson Tide absolutely dominated on the offensive end with 519 total yards to Louisville’s 268.

Our sports staff reacts to the loss, examining the biggest takeaways from the game and what this means for Cardinal football.

Matt Bradshaw: U of L beat themselves with penalties and infractions

Some might say that a season opening match does not define a team, but I say differently. Louisville has a track record of performing poorly at the start of seasons and their rout at the hands of Alabama is only another example.

U of L managed a mere 16 rushing yards for the entire game, a number that Lamar Jackson could have doubled in a single possession. Moreover, the defensive line played poorly and was ineffective against Alabama on the ground.

The one positive? Jawon Pass played comfortably in his first start as quarterback. The redshirt sophomore passed for two touchdowns and 252 yards, coming close to Alabama’s 297 passing yards. 

Puma did throw two interceptions but, all things considered, two turnovers were not the sole reason Louisville was crushed.

Sloppy play and poor preparation characterized the overall outlook of Petrino’s team. Penalties followed penalties, snaps were botched, special teams faltered and the secondary stumbled against Alabama’s receivers.

Petrino needs to step things up if he wants Louisville to be considered a top program. The behemoths of college football don’t commit multiple substitution infractions or receive sideline warnings from the referees

As a member of the ACC, the Cards have only beaten a ranked team once out of 11 tries. If they fail to take the games they’re expected to win this season, Louisville will fail to establish themselves as a top-tier program.

Conner Farrell: Louisville was outmatched in all three phases

The Cards couldn’t get anything going for them right from the opening kickoff. Alabama seemed to do whatever they wanted on the offensive side of the ball and with no answers from Louisville. By the end of the first half, the Crimson Tide led by four scores.

Petrino’s offense used six different rushers over the course of  the game and only raked up 16 yards. This is a testament to how vaunted the Alabama front-seven is and how much Louisville misses the legs of Lamar Jackson.

Alabama’s sixth touchdown came from a 77-yard kickoff return. Although there were bright spots for the punting unit, the poor tackling on special teams is something to watch this season.

Two takeaways from the game come from the Cardinal offense. Pass looked relatively comfortable against the Tide defense and made some smart decisions with the ball in his first collegiate start.

Second, the offensive line held their own with pass protection during the first half. It will be interesting to see how the group progresses throughout the season.

Brad McGuffin: The Cards just didn’t belong

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to most college football fans that Alabama was ready to play from week one. The Crimson Tide have not lost a season opener under head coach Nick Saban, along with being favored for 74 consecutive games against ranked opponents.

From the opening drive of the game, Louisville just didn’t belong on the same field as their opponent. The Cardinals failed to give time for quarterback Pass to throw the football and finished with a measly 16 rushing yards to Alabama’s 222.

You have to give the Tide all the credit. They’re a dominant football team and Petrino did not have his squad ready for the challenge.

The good news is that the Cards play Indiana State next week, which offers the team a chance to gain back some much needed confidence.

You can follow the Louisville Cardinal on Twitter @thecardsports.

Photo by Nancy Hanner / The Louisville Cardinal

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