LSU manhandled Louisville 29-9 in the Citrus Bowl Saturday.
Heisman winner Lamar Jackson finished a mediocre 10-27 passing for only 153 yards and no touchdowns. He ran the ball 26 times for just 33 yards and lost a fumble.
After the game, there are more questions than answers.
Eric Crawford takes a look at what went wrong with the Cardinals this season:
What reporters — and fans — wanted to know was why. Why did Petrino think that the work ethic or intensity wasn’t there. Fans assumed a loss would motivate the team. Heck, it motivated them. But players aren’t fans. And fans don’t take into account how much these players put into it, and the effect even a single loss can have on a player, or on a team.
“That’s something that we need to spend a lot of time evaluating, but I think some of it is just the ability to go from being good to great and, obviously, understanding how to prepare for the game and go out and compete in the game and, like I said, that’s on me,” Petrino said.
What he means is only he really knows how he coached these guys after the Houston game. Only he, really, can say whether he broke them down or built them up. And let’s face it, this situation was new for him. It’s not like he’s been coaching Heisman candidates at quarterback every season.
The football problems can be addressed. Petrino can look at video and tell you exactly where the offensive line broke down and why (and it’s not even always the line, but somewhere else).
“We took our turn, not getting the job done, whether it was of the protection, the throw, the dropped pass, whatever it was,” Petrino said.
What’s tougher is gauging the team’s psychology. It’s easy to say that a loss automatically fires a team or a player up, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes losses are deflating. Now, this program has absorbed three losses to end the season.
Before the loss to LSU, I noticed this, and after the game a couple of other reporters remarked on it too. LSU took the field and charged out of the tunnel and onto its sideline in a fired-up mass. Louisville had a group of players charge out of the tunnel, followed by another group, followed by a single file line, followed by some stragglers at the end. I don’t know if that matters, or means anything, but it’s an interesting picture of this team at the end of the season.
Louisville’s kicker had a bad day: