The University of Louisville loses a football game it should not have lost (e.g. Syracuse I, UConn I & II, Utah).
It loses to a team that hadn’t even held the lead in a game since Oct. 11. A team with a first-time starter playing quarterback.
It loses to a team that has won only 3 of 25 conference games under head coach Greg Robinson. Two of those wins are against the Cardinals.
Second-year coach Steve Kragthorpe’s support, that’s what. I know the Cards are banged up. I know the difference between this team with Scott Long and without him was the difference between victory and defeat last week. And it may have been this week.
Here’s the problem with this game. I wasn’t there, mind you. I’m watching on television. But all night, I thought, “They don’t look that bad.” U of L did some nice enough things.
Vic Anderson rushed for 115 yards. Hunter Cantwell completed 64 percent of his passes. The Cards converted nearly half their third downs, and held the edge in time of possession.
The defense gave up 207 yards rushing. And that was the key.
But here’s also how it looked from the couch. The Cards didn’t appear to have a great deal of urgency. They played like they figured they were going to win no matter what. I’m sure that’s an oversimplification of the case.
But “the case” really is going to cease to matter pretty soon.
There are only so many explanations you can offer for these types of losses.
I’ll admit, I grow weary of the fluctuations of fan bases. Win a game, and everybody’s urging each other to get back on the Coach K bandwagon. Lose a game, and most of the wagon is trying to throw the coach overboard.
Now, I’m not in the camp that says you can’t begin to discuss a coach’s place within the future of the program just two seasons in. You absolutely can. I think I need to see how this team finishes up this season before I wade too deep into that discussion. But the folks who say there’s a four-year minimum when talking about new coaches and the period they get to establish themselves at a program need to take into consideration the program that was taken over.
Kragthorpe’s problem is that he inherited more — talent, facilities, support — than any U of L coach. And to whom much is given, much is required.
So while I’m not going to be a part of this wild fluctuation of opinion from week to week, I’m also not going to belittle those who are having the conversation, because they want more answers than they’ve been given.
I don’t think there’s much question that this year’s team looks far better prepared than last year’s. The play calling is better than what we saw a year ago. Despite some big personnel losses and injuries, this team is competitive.
But a lot of things go out the window when you lose to teams you shouldn’t lose to.