Even with the loss to Georgia in the Belk Bowl on Tuesday night, the University of Louisville football season was a success at 9-4.
The first season in the ACC, the first with an entire new coaching staff and so many key injuries on the roster, the staff did an outstanding job getting to nine wins.
But still that doesn't mean the staff, players and fans can't be and aren't disappointed with the outcome and play from Tuesday night. It was a tough loss.
Here are a few thoughts looking back:
***Kyle Bolin threw for 300 yards and has his moments, while Reggie Bonnafon struggled when he was in there in the second quarter. But the bottom line with both QBs is they were just both not ready for that situation against the tough Bulldogs defense. Even with a perfect game, it was going to be hard for the Cardinals to win with either at quarterback. Now, moving forward they should both take a step forward heading into next season.
***Nick Chubb is amazing. He's one of the best running backs I have ever seen in person and it would have taken a perfect defensive effort for the Cardinals to even slow him down. The running of Chubb and the massive, veteran offensive line was just too much for the Cardinals to try and take down.
***The U of L wide receivers - with the exception of Gerald Christian's one-handed grab - didn't do much to help out the quarterbacks. James Quick dropped a ball, DeVante Parker stopped on two routes, Kai De La Cruz short-armed a Bolin pass in the second quarter. For me, that was perhaps the most disappointing thing about the game. Those guys could have helped a bit more. It likely wouldn't have meant a win, but a few more yards and maybe a score.
***Even down to the last play he was on the field, Lorenzo Mauldin was playing his heart out. Mauldin was on the ground crawling towards the quarterback as he was being blocked. Love the heart of Mauldin and it was there until the very end. He's going to be a tough face of the program to replace. Good luck to Mauldin, who will head to California to prepare for the NFL Draft after playing in the Senior Bowl.
***I called the fake punt - or at least said it was going to happen during the game - and am amazed it took Ryan Johnson's arm that long to be used. It was a perfect pass from a kid who was a great QB in high school. Wish it would have worked for him, ending a really nice career for a guy who took a lot of heat for his punting at times.
I know you are disappointed in the loss right now, the staff and team took it hard. But 9-4 isn't a bad start to the Petrino-era because it's only going to get better.