LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - There are plenty of opinions going around as to the genesis of the issue with UofL football this season. The one thing everyone can agree on after the Cards loss to Virginia, including head coach Bobby Petrino, is that it was difficult to watch.
“That’s a hard video to watch, probably as bad of a loss as I’ve had around here,” Petrino said. "Didn’t feel like we played the way we’re capable of playing. Actually, I know we didn’t play the way we’re capable of playing, primarily on offense. Offensively, it’s hard to watch. We’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing up front. We didn’t make good decisions and see things that we need to see at the quarterback spot.
The quarterback spot is one still surrounded with questions headed into Week 5. After starting redshirt freshman Malik Cunningham against Virginia, Cunningham went 6-9 for 35 yards and one interception. He was replaced by Jawon “Puma” Pass in the second half, but Pass didn’t have much more offensive success. His finishing line was 10-19 for 133 and 0 TD’s. Both quarterbacks were sacked twice, and Petrino called out the offensive line during Monday’s press conference.
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“We’ve got to get things straightened out,” Petrino said. “First and foremost, with the offensive line, coming off, playing physical, finishing, hitting the holes, running the ball. We went back and watched the Alabama game. We played faster and harder and more physical in the Alabama game than we did up at Virginia.”
In an unfortunate turn of events for the Cardinal offense and redshirt sophomore Dae Williams, the running back suffered a bone bruise in his knee on the first play of the game. Petrino said Williams wouldn’t be ready to practice if they’d had it on Monday, and they’ll evaluate his condition in the coming days.
“Obviously some of it is determined on health and how he can come back from that," Petrino said. "If we were practicing today, he wouldn’t be able to practice. That’s just how we get the report in the morning is if we’re going today, these guys would be out of practice. We go through it again tomorrow morning.”
Petrino’s team is also dealing with the frustration that comes with being 2-2 and performing at a lower level than fans or the team itself expects.
“There’s definite frustration, there’s no question about that," Petrino said. "We have players that are competitors and certain things aren’t happening the way we expected, they expected, so there’s definitely frustration. The way you make confidence is you make plays, you have success.”
One player feeling a bit of that frustration is senior wide receiver Jaylen Smith. Smith has had several uncharacteristic drops this season, some in key moments. Coach Petrino said on Monday, part of his problem may actually be trying too hard to make the big play.
“I think sometimes playing receiver is like playing golf," Petrino said. "Sometimes the harder you try and the more you really try to grind at it, the harder it gets. Jaylyn needs to relax and get back to believing in himself. It’s really unlike him to drop passes and I think what he’s trying to do is say, ‘hey, I need to make a big play,’ ‘I need to make a big play’ and he’s running before he catches the ball. He’s got to get back to looking the ball into his hands, looking it all the way to the tuck and being able to make the plays that he can make
The Cardinals will have another shot at that success on Saturday, when Louisville hosts Florida State. The Seminoles, led by first-year coach Willie Taggart have had their own issues this season. They’re 2-2 (0-2 ACC), with losses coming at the hands of Syracuse and Virginia Tech. The 'Noles are coming off a home win over Northern Illinois.
Saturday’s game is set for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.