Louisville Football: Pro Football Focus’ Citrus Bowl Grades For The Cards

We take a look at Pro Football Focus’ grades for the Louisville football team when they played LSU in the Citrus Bowl.

Well, it wasn’t the performance we were hoping for from the Louisville football team, but I guess it could have obviously been worse. The Cardinals were beat in just about every aspect of the football game, expect in the kicking game.

I never thought that the 2016 season would come down to us talking about Blanton Creque and Mason King being the two guys who had the best game against LSU.

Honestly, what happened against the Tigers shouldn’t surprise any of us. The Cardinals offensive line has been playing terrible and LSU has one of the best defenses in the nation. It was basically like playing Houston again, but without the trick plays and turnovers.

The biggest shocker to me, was the lack of production from Cole Hikutini. He came into the game leading the entire team in receptions and only had one catch against the Tigers. I sincerely doubt it was his fault the ball wasn’t thrown his way, but it was surprising that the game-plan didn’t include him more, especially on third and manageable situations.

With that being said, Pro Football Focus gave recaps and grades for every bowl game this year and the report card that came in for the Cards was brutal and rightfully so. Take a look at the Cards’ grades on the following slides.

Dec 31, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Louisville Cardinals running back Brandon Radcliff (23) runs with the ball as LSU Tigers linebacker Duke Riley (4) tackles during the second half at Camping World Stadium. LSU Tigers defeated the Louisville Cardinals 29-9. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus’ Offensive Grades For The Cardinals

Before we go any further, Lamar Jackson wasn’t even close to being one of the highest graded Cardinals in the Citrus Bowl. While it wasn’t all his fault, if we’re being honest with ourselves, he missed way too many open receivers against the Tigers on Saturday.

Take a look at the Cards’ offensive grades, according to Pro Football Focus:

C Tobijah Hughley, 74.6, WR James Quick, 74.5, HB Jeremy Smith, 64.4, HB Brandon Radcliff, 62.5, WR Traveon Samuel, 61.3

“You might be surprised to see an offensive lineman with the top grade on the Louisville offense, but Hughley was the only Cardinals offensive lineman to earn a game grade above 60.0, and one of only two to grade above 50.0, out of 99.9. WR James quick caught all three passes in his direction, though none had the gravitas, or even potential gravitas, of his 53-yard gain in the first quarter. RB Brandon Radcliff was solid, but on only six carries.”

What makes me the most upset is that Radcliff only had six carries against LSU and yet, the Cardinals weren’t able to get a touchdown after being in the red-zone multiple times. I’m not saying that I know more than Bobby Petrino, but it was extremely questionable why they wouldn’t just hand the ball off inside the ten.

Dec 31, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; LSU Tigers running back Derrius Guice (5) is tackled by Louisville Cardinals defensive lineman Chris Williams (44) during the first quarter of an NCAA football game in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus’ Defensive Grades For The Cardinals

For what the Cardinals had to work with on defense, I really can’t be too mad with their performance. Missing most of their secondary and their leader in sacks definitely hurt Louisville more than we thought against Danny Etling and Derrius Guice.

DT Chris Williams, 84.0, DT Drew Bailey, 79.1, OLB Jonathan Greenard, 77.6, ILB Stacy Thomas, 76.2, OLB Devonte Fields, 75.3

“86 percent of LSU’s rushing yards came after contact in this game, and that tells you something of how the Louisville defense played the run. Up front, the likes of Chris Williams, Drew Bailey, and DeAngelo Brown put up strong showings against one of the best offensive lines in the nation, but LSU, and in particular, running back Derrius Guice, found the weaker spots in the defensive front and the glaring weaknesses in the secondary. Louisville’s defensive backs combined to miss seven tackles on the day, with Guice able to break through two of those on his 70-yard TD run that broke the back of the game early in the third quarter.”

I am so tired of seeing how bad this defense is at tackling. Like the offensive line, the issues with tackling have gotten worse over the course of 2016. LSU having 86 percent of their rushing yards come after contact is just ridiculous and so is the secondary missing seven tackles.

However, these last two games have given some younger players more experience that will hopefully help the defense going into 2017.

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