Louisville’s loss at Clemson this past weekend was a frustrating game to watch for both teams. Combined, the two teams went 2/33 on third down conversions. That is a whopping six percent conversion rate. For both teams, the startling statistics could be attributed to defense. Rightfully so, but for Louisville the troubles translated right back to the quarterback position.
All season, Louisville has been strong from the top to bottom. The defense is a top five unit in the country, and their running game has asserted itself with three reliable weapons at any given time. However, red flags have been raised at quarterback for weeks now.
Following Will Gardner’s injury, Reggie Bonnafon was named the starter. Bonnafon brought a dual-threat mobility that Gardner could not provide. However, Bonnafon’s freshman jitters became obvious when he was named the starter, and they were incredibly apparent in the loss to Clemson.
With Bonnafon in the game, Louisville’s offensive effort was futile. Bonnafon managed a QBR of 2.5. That number would not get it done against any opponent. Gardner was not much better, with a rating of 52.8, including a last minute 73 yard bomb to James Quick. However, it was Gardner’s entrance into the game in the last minutes of the second quarter that sparked a Louisville touchdown drive.
It became obvious that Gardner was able to carry the offense better than Bonnafon, which is likely attributed to Bonnafon’s inexperience and lack of comfort with the offense. As a result, offensive coordinator Garrick McGee announced on Tuesday that Gardner will be the starter for Louisville’s game Saturday vs. NC State.
“Reggie came in and did a really good job and won us a couple games…Will is back healthy now, so we’re going to put in Will first,” Mcgee said Tuesday.
If you’re a Louisville fan, you have to be praying that a healthy Gardner to go with some extra Bobby Petrino preparation will translate into improved offensive production.
*Section Photo credit to Garry Jones, AP Photo; Featured Photo (above) credit to 247 Sports