By Beau Kilpatrick—
The No. 13 Louisville Cardinals produce a pitiful performance against the No. 20 LSU Tigers in the 2016 Citrus Bowl. The Cardinals led the nation in offensive scoring this year but lost 29-9 and didn’t score a single touchdown against the Tigers.
The 2016 season started hot for the Cardinals and whispers about a national championship could be heard everywhere. However, the ending of their season fell into a downward spiral that tragically blemished the superb potential of Louisville’s team. The Cards lost their final two regular season games against Houston and Kentucky. The Citrus Bowl marked the third game in a row that the Cardinals lost.
The Louisville offense looked terrible against the LSU defense. The offensive line has struggled all season with protecting the quarterback, creating running lanes for the backs, and they struggled all season with penalties. Today was not any different.
Heisman winner Lamar Jackson was sacked eight times, mainly due to the poor blocking by the offensive line. This ultimately influenced the psyche of Jackson as he began to rush his throws before receivers were open. Jackson only completed 10-27 passes for a disappointing 153 yards and no touchdowns. He also committed Louisville’s only fumble in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals’ receivers had plenty of opportunities to help their team but dropped passes plagued the offense and hindered Jackson’s ability to make first downs. James Quick led all receivers with three catches for 81 yards.
For more stats: http://www.espn.com/college-football/matchup?gameId=400876106
Not only did the offensive line fail to protect their quarterback, they also neglected to create holes needed for the running backs. Jackson rushed 26 times for 33 yards and Brandon Radcliff gathered 26 yards on six carries. The ground attack was non-existent for the Cardinals. The LSU defense dominated the Cardinal line, they challenged every pass, and more impressively, they neutralized the most explosive player in college football…Lamar Jackson.
On the bright side, Louisville kicker Blanton Creque gave a perfect performance. He made all three of his field goals and provided the only points for the Cardinals.
The defense for Louisville came into this game consumed with injuries. Three key starters missed the game. Five-star safety Josh Harvey-Clemons missed due to a hamstring injury. Lockdown cornerbacks Trumaine Washington and Shaq Wiggins suffered ankle injuries. Finally, linebackers Henry Famurewa and James Hearns could not play because they are still recovering from gunshot wounds.
The defense performed very well considering they were without half of their starters. The back-ups did the best they could but assignments were occasionally missed and LSU attacked this weakness.
In my opinion, they key factor in this loss was the lack of hustle and assignment responsibility of the offensive line, along with the multiple missed opportunities by receivers to catch the ball.
Louisville finishes the 2016 football season 9-4, losing their final three games. Many seniors have played their last game in Cardinal Red.
WR Jamari Staples
WR James Quick
TE Cole Hikutini
RB Brandon Radcliff
S Josh Harvey-Clemons
LB Keith Kelsey
DE Devonte Fields
The 2017 season shows promise with the return of many players, including Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson. Until next season, cheer on the Cardinals basketball squads and Louisville baseball when they take the diamond in the spring. Go CARDS! L1C4.