Quarterback play keeping Cards from winning

10/13/2014 07:30 AM

The Louisville Cardinals have been riding their running backs to win after win this season, but Saturday when the backfield got shutdown by the Clemson defense, the Cards quarterbacks came up empty.

Reggie Bonnafon started his third consecutive game, and it was not pretty. The true freshman finished 5 of 13 passing for 62 yards. His fumble that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown by Clemson, wound up being the difference.

Sophomore Will Gardner returned for the first time since an injury against Florida International, but his spark wasn’t enough to prevent a 23-17 loss.

In his reserve role, Gardner did give the Cards a chance, throwing a 22-yard touchdown to Eli Rogers to tie the score at 17-17 with 5:27 remaining in the third quarter.

Then in the final minutes of the game, Gardner threw a dart to James Quick who went 73 yards on the catch and run before being caught from behind. Unfortunately, that was it for the UofL offense. The Cards couldn’t find the end zone despite a first and goal situation. and two field goals from the Tigers would be the difference.

The loss drops Louisville to 5-2 (3-2 ACC). It isn’t a season-breaker by any means, but it’s a disappointing loss. The Cards should have won this game, just like they should’ve won on the road against Virginia.

This is a UofL football team that has the top-ranked defense in the country. The Cards could easily be undefeated, and would likely be ranked in the top 10 to 15 teams considering everything that has unfolded in college football.

There is still plenty of season to be played, but the offense (and the quarterbacks in particular) are really going to have to elevate their play if this is going to be a successful season. A 10-win season is still possible, but 8 or 9 wins are more likely considering a pair of unbeaten schools, number two FSU and fifth ranked Notre Dame, remain on the schedule, along with a number of other talented teams.

That’s a shame because this defense can play with the nation’s best, but it’s going to be wasted if the quarterback play doesn’t improve in a hurry.

The first step for the Cards is finding a starting quarterback and sticking with him. Hopefully some consistency under center and the eventual return of receiver DeVante Parker can also help knock the offense out of its funk.

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