Another game against Clemson, another frustrating, infuriating, and disappointing loss.
Where to begin?
While the wounds are still fresh, I think a lot of Louisville fans will be most frustrated with the downright poor and imbalanced officiating tonight. I can think of at least six egregious pivotal calls/no calls off the top of my head that didn’t go the Cards’ way. I’m sure there are plenty more that will be documented and pointed out in the days to come, but the worst one had to be the phantom defensive pass interference call that came on a huge 3rd and 8 towards the end of the first half.
The penalty wasn’t even called by the sideline judge who had the best view, but rather a referee all the way back at the 35 yard line. It feels like this is where the game really flipped. Instead of going into the half with a 10-7 deficit, the Tigers were gifted with a drive saving penalty that put them into the red zone and they were able to punch it in a few plays later to make it 17-7.
But that wasn’t all. On the ensuing drive, Louisville made their way into Clemson territory. With the ball on the Tigers’ 40-yard line, and with two seconds left on the clock, instead of trying for a field goal the Cards went for a hail mary play that ended up knocking Malik Cunningham out of the game for good.
Again, it’s crazy how even just one call changed the entire course of the game. But that one call was only one of many mistakes the officiating crew made today. We can continue to harp on how poor the officiating was, how the ACC does such a negligent job of holding the officials accountable week after week, and how Clemson always seems to have more than favorable “home cooking” when they need it most, but let’s save that for another time.
Louisville’s defense got worked up front by a very frustrated Clemson offensive line that was embarrassed by Notre Dame last week. But the Cards were able to settle in after the first quarter and actually put together a very impressive performance over the next three quarters. Toss out the gifted TD at the end of the first half and the garbage time TD, and this defense gave up just 17 points on merit. That’s not to mention the three turnovers the defense forced, the EIGHT tackles for loss, or the two sacks they had. Great performance by the defense, and big shoutout to Momo Sanogo who had a career day with 14 total tackles, 10 solo, one sack, and two TFLs.
While the defense was able to punch back against the Clemson o-line and duke it out for the majority of the game, the same couldn’t be said of the Louisville o-line. Plain and simple, they got their asses kicked. They allowed 4 sacks, 9 TFLs, and only gained 150 yards on the ground today. If you want to explain this game to your buddies as short and simple as possible, that’s the story. Clemson ran for 248. Louisville ran for 150. That’s the big difference.
Malik didn’t look great in the first half, and Brock had a more productive second half, but neither QB was going to be able to will this offense to victory today. Even if the game had been 10-7 at the half, and had Malik stayed healthy, it’s just so hard to see that this offense would have had enough firepower to take Clemson to the wire.
Keith Wynne has harped on complimentary football all year and it reared its ugly head again this game. The defense held on as long as they could and the offense never delivered fully. Again, that’s where the game was won and lost.
It’s a shame the game played out this way. Really feel like we had a chance going into the game. It’s always going to be tough to beat Clemson in their home stadium, but it’s going to be even harder when you’re not at your best and the refs aren’t doing you any favors.
Lots to digest from this game, and I’m interested to hear what everyone else’s big take-aways are.
For now, let’s enjoy Mike trolling Clemson fans for rushing the field after beating an unranked Louisville team:
Super weird to see Clemson fans rush the field after beating an unranked Louisville squad.
Ultimate sign of respect, I suppose. This program has definitely arrived.
— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) November 12, 2022
P.S. Why the hell didn’t we kick an extra point at the end of the game?