The bright side of Louisville’s disappointing start to the 2015 – 2016 football season is that they have been in each of the three games and had a chance to win each of them at the end. The problem is they have not been able to pull out a single win in starting 0 – 3 for the first time since 1984.
Louisville started a new quarterback for the third consecutive game, but that did not help them start any better than the first three games. Louisville gained a paltry 117 yards in the first half against No. 9 Clemson. Louisville struggled mightily to move the ball. The biggest play of the half was a 55 yard catch by freshman Jalen Smith from Kyle Bolin. Kicker John Wallace then kicked a 28 yard field goal late in the second quarter for Louisville’s only points of the half.
Louisville started the second half much better than the first pulling ahead 10 – 7 on a Jeremy Smith one yard touchdown run. Clemson went down and kicked a field goal to tie the game. Louisville’s offense stalled and the defense which had played solid all game gave up a 25 yard touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson to Jordan Leggett to put Clemson ahead 17 – 10.
The fourth quarter brought showed the ups and downs a fan goes through in watching games. The tigers kicked a field goal with 9:57 remaining to go ahead 20 – 10. Louisville’s inability to move the ball on offense gave many fans a glass mostly empty feel until 5’7 speedy freshman Traveon Samuel took the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. The crowd once again was back in the game and had the feeling that the Cardinals could indeed pull this one out.
Louisville’s defense stopped Clemson and forced them to punt. The Cardinals’ offense woke up and moved the ball into scoring position. Wallace had a 38 yard field sail wide left that would have tied the game with 2:28 left.
With 1:19 to go Watson rushed for five yards up the middle in what was called a first down after a measurement, effectively ending the game. Louisville coach Bobby Petrino asked for a review and it showed Watson was down a half of a yard short giving Louisville one more chance.
Bolin found Mickey Crum for a huge 23 yard gain. Crum went out of bounds stopping the clock for the Cardinals who had no timeouts remaining. Then Louisville made three straight plays that deflated the sold out crowd. First from the Tiger’s 37 the snap was made too early and Bolin picked up the ball and had to throw it out of bounds wasting a play. The second play the Clemson defense got to Bolin sacking him as he tried to throw the ball away. The referees ruled he was down. The Cardinal players were slow getting back to the huddle leaving them with a desperation heave that was intercepted sealing the Cardinals’ fate.
The Cardinals now have nine days to figure things out before Samford comes in to Papa John’s Cardinal stadium.