Brandon Radcliff, the best running back in the country, had only 13 carries for 69 yards in Louisville’s loss to Clemson.
Louisville lost 42-36 to the Clemson Tigers. Louisville’s defense did a great job against the perennial powerhouse Clemson. Chucky Williams and Jaire Alexander had 3 interceptions and the defense contained Deshaun Watson better than anyone else has.
“One yard short” has been the talk of the nation. Louisville finished with Lamar Jackson throwing for a 9-yard pass to James Quick on a 4th down conversion attempt. Quick believed that he had made it to the unofficial 1st down marker but that proved to be fools gold.
Replays from every angle showed that Quick was short of the marker. However, replays also showed that the marker was about eight feet off the field, making it difficult for Quick to know exactly where the 1st down line was. Also, replays show an official on the ball-spotting crew, in charge of placing the marker, cheered enthusiastically when Louisville’s receiver fell short. For the record, officials are supposed to remain neutral when officiating a game.
But the biggest question was… where was Brandon Radcliff? Radcliff is No. 2 in the nation in yards per carry with 8.4 (RBs with more than 50 carries). In fact, Radcliff’s average per carry versus Clemson was better than Lamar Jackson’s. So why was his number not called more than it was? Clemson’s plan was to shut down the Cardinal RB and make Jackson beat them single handedly. The Cardinals’ chances would have faired better with Radcliff’s steady running, which would have opened better possibilities for Jackson and the Louisville receivers.
Coach Bobby Petrino is an offensive mastermind but this game was lost by Louisville’s offense. The Cardinal defense stepped up against Deshaun Watson and the Tigers but the offense seemed to be out of sync. Petrino seemed to rely too much on Jackson who had 44 passing attempts and 31 carries. The amount of attempts that Jackson took dwarfs Radcliff’s measly 13 rushes.
Deshaun Watson of Clemson finished 20/31 with 306 yards passing and ran 16 times for 110 yards. Watson ran for a TD and threw for 5 more, along with 3 interceptions.
Lamar Jackson rushed for 162 yards and 2 TDs in 31 attempts and threw for 295 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, and was choked by Clemson linebacker, Ben Boulware. Cole Hikutini caught 7 passes for 84 yards to lead all Cardinals in receiving. However, Hikutini did not score, and his completions were not enough to pull out the win.
Petrino put too much confidence in Jackson’s arm and not enough in Radcliff’s legs. Brandon Radcliff was leading the nation in yards per carry; yet, he had only 13 rushes. Why would a team with one of the best rushers put him on the bench?
The Cardinals fell to No. 7 in the AP poll, but this is not the end for Louisville and Lamar Jackson still remains the frontrunner in the Heisman race. Experts on ESPN, and sports radio, still believe U of L is one of the best teams in the country. Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN College GameDay said, “An 11-1 Cardinals’ squad is still a decent bet to make the College Football Playoff.”
Herbsteit’s formula: http://thespun.com/college-football/louisville-college-football-playoff-chances
Herbstreit said the Louisville could still get into the 4-team playoff if they beat Houston and finish the season 11-1, if the Big 12 champion has at least one loss, and if the PAC-12 champ also has a loss.
Louisville has a bye this week. Their next game is at home against Duke on Friday, October 12, at 7 p.m. The Cardinals need this bye week to refocus and finish the season strong. Go CARDS!
(Article by Beau Kilpatrick, University of Louisville, Oct. 4 2016)