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With two poor losses, Louisville football has put itself in a bind in the ACC.

After a dismal season in 2021, Louisville football aimed to move in the right direction. ACC media picked only Florida State, Boston College, and Syracuse to finish ahead of the Cardinals in the Atlantic Division.

The Cardinals have suffered defeats to both groups after three weeks of the season. They lost to the Orange 31-7 to start the season, then the Seminoles 35-31 in their first game at home on Friday. In two weeks, U of L (1-2, 0-2 ACC) will travel to face Boston College in a game that has become a must-win if the team wants to have any hope of rescuing its season with a demanding second half of the schedule still to come.

Following its 20-14 road victory over the University of Central Florida, which seemed to show that it could, after all, win close games, Louisville came into the Week 3 match with more confidence. The Cardinals were poised to repeat the feat briefly on Friday, but the same problems that plagued it against Syracuse resurfaced, including too many penalties and wasted opportunities.

3 Takeaways

Jordan Travis-less game results in a missed chance for Louisville football. FSU 

On Friday, the Cardinals had 11 penalties for 81 yards. Only 13 other teams nationwide had more than Louisville’s 19 entering Week 3. At 30, Utah State has the most of any group that has played two games with 28. The Cardinals’ head coach Scott Satterfield stated that the errors appeared on all offensive and defensive plays and special teams.

“We have not had any in the first two games, and we had two tonight,” he reportedly said. “We had two holding penalties on a punt return and another one. So, all three phases contributed to that, and we’re not just one side of the ball with penalties, but again, they hurt you big time.”

Regarding handling Seminoles backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker, Louisville’s defence struggled as FSU primary quarterback Jordan Travis left the game before halftime. Rodemaker was picked off once and sacked three times in the opening few drives, so it got off to a decent start.

In the second half, things started to change.

With 7:54 left in the game, Rodemaker calmed down and hit Johnny Wilson for the game-winning 2-yard touchdown throw.

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“I think they switched their scheme up, and they executed where we didn’t,” Cardinals linebacker Momo sanogo stated. “They got some explosive plays on us in the passing and run games. Kudos to (FSU coach Mike) Norvell. He did a good job of switching it up, giving it a different look than he gave us the entire first half. He found success, and we didn’t. We’ve got to come back and fix that and finish games.”

With quarterback Malik Cunningham producing 370 total yards and three touchdowns, two of which came on runs of 8 and 18 yards, Louisville’s offence appeared to have found its groove. In place of the injured Tiyon Evans and Jalen Mitchell, they witnessed Trevion Cooley, who scored twice, and Jawhar Jordan, who started the game, perform well. Together, Jordan and Cooley gained 125 yards on the ground. Cooley also scored two touchdowns—one through the air and one via the ground—and caught four passes for 36 yards.

However, the offensive faltered twice in the final minutes when it mattered most. With 37 seconds left, Cunningham’s interception while attempting to toss the ball out of bounds clinched the outcome.

Injuries contributed to the defeat and may have an effect in the coming weeks. Mitchell (lower leg), who had been questionable all week, was ultimately ruled out. At the same time, Evans (unspecified) would be decided on game day. The Cardinals also missed wide receiver Dee Wiggins and offensive lineman Trevor Reid (unspecified) before the end of the first quarter (foot). After the game, their health state wasn’t immediately known.

The Seminoles did lose Jared Verse, their star defensive linemen, and their starting quarterback, but they were still able to adapt. Not Louisville.

The fact that Florida State and Syracuse were thought to be two of Louisville’s most winnable games on the schedule is the saddest aspect of the team losing its first two conference games.

No time soon will it get any simpler.

On September 24, Louisville will meet South Florida in a non-league match. Before playing Boston College on the road, the Cardinals must make the necessary corrections and regain their confidence. Zay Flowers, a talented but smaller receiver for the Eagles (5-10, 172 pounds) who has already recorded 14 receptions for 196 yards and two touchdowns, is a veteran quarterback with experience.

Following BC, the team will play home games against Pittsburgh and Wake Forest, an away game against Virginia, and a bye week. Then there is the last stretch of the season, which includes playing Clemson at Memorial Stadium on November 12 and then NC State at home to wrap off ACC play. The season is concluded with the Governor’s Cup match at No. 9 Kentucky.

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