Mon. Jan 21st, 2019

Defensive woes continue to cripple football

By Conner Farrell —

Football (2-6, 0-5) received a thorough 56-35 beating from Wake Forest to remain without a victory in the ACC. They are now the only winless team in the conference.

The defeat extends the Cardinal losing streak to five games and marks the longest such streak since 2008. Four of the losses have been by 18 points or more, and this is the first season since 1932 that U of L has allowed more than 50 points three times in one season.

“This is not what we want, this is not the season we want, not the success that we want, not even close,” head coach Bobby Petrino said.

Here’s a few takeaways from the rout, detailing how the Cards failed to take advantage of the weakest opponent on their conference schedule.

Stopping the big play

The Demon Deacons scored eight touchdowns throughout the game, with three of those coming on plays of more than 20 yards.

One included a 74-yard run in the second quarter by senior running back Matt Colbourn, whose 2015 offer from Louisville was pulled just before signing day.

“The thing that really hurt us defensively was the big plays that we gave up, the long touchdown runs and the passes,” Petrino said.

These “chunk plays” were the main reasons why there was a big disparity of time in possession.

U of L held the advantage in possession, having the ball for 33 minutes compared to Wake Forest’s 26 minutes. Nonetheless, Wake’s ability to move the ball in bulk resulted in them putting up eight touchdowns with only 72 plays.

“If I would have looked at the stats before the game and said we were gonna have this time of possession and this type of yards and third down success, I would have thought we had won the game,” Petrino said.

The Deacons also had three pass-plays of 20-plus yards. Senior wide-out Greg Dortch received each of them, recording 135 yards in the contest.

Running woes…again

Not only did the Louisville defense fail to stop the big plays, but the defensive line failed to stifle their opponent’s rushing attack. The Demon Deacons carved up the Cardinals for 368 yards, making for the second highest output for an opposing team behind Georgia Tech (542).

Colbourn recorded 243 of the rushing yards. The former U of L commit chipped in three touchdowns as well, making for a career day. His rushing effort ranks fifth all-time on the single-game rushing leaders for Louisville opponents.

“You have to be honest about it, they have to be honest about it, we didn’t perform like we needed to on defense today,” Petrino said.

Offensive bright spots

It’s no secret that both sides of the ball struggled against Wake Forest. However, Petrino maintained a positive attitude for the offense.

“I thought offensively we did some really good things, I thought we ran the ball at times better. We couldn’t finishing running the ball because we got so far behind, but it was good to see some of our receivers have big games,” Petrino said.

Redshirt junior Trey Smith scored a career-high three touchdowns. One of those was a 52-yard run on fourth down in the opening drive.

In the passing game, redshirt sophomore Jawon Pass set a new career-high in passing yards (358). Puma’s 54 attempts through the air without an interception rank second most all-time behind Brian Brohm’s performance against Utah in 2007.

A pair of receivers had 100-plus yard games. Senior Jaylen Smith racked up 107 yards on eight receptions and Tutu Atwell’s 132-yard performance became the most single-game receiving yards in school history for a true freshman.

Next up, football travels to face Clemson on Saturday, Nov. 3. With the undefeated No. 2 Tigers creaming most of their opponents, the Cardinals will have a tough time returning from “Death Valley” unscathed.

You can follow the Louisville Cardinal on Twitter @thecardsports.

Photos by Taris Smith, Nancy Hanner and Adrianna Lynch

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