I chuckled on Saturday quite often while I was watching the NC State at Louisville game on ESPN. I understand the announcers for the game want to talk up the host team a little bit on their broadcast, especially considering the hospitality the home team shows in taking care of the ESPN crews that visit their schools each week.
However, Bob Wischusen and Brock Huard took it to the extreme with Louisville on Saturday. At least that is what I thought.
It was almost as if they were part of the Louisville Radio Network. The Cardinals, as we all know, dismantled the Wolfpack on Saturday, the same team that was a missed field goal away from beating No. 3 Clemson the week before.
Louisville deserved praise. It played a great game, and probably, from what I have seen, its best game of the season.
But if you watched the broadcast, and you didn’t have the knowledge that Clemson and Louisville had already played this season, you would have never known the Tigers beat the Cardinals on Oct. 1.
Look, I’m a sportswriter. I do not know much about what television guys have to do to prep for a game. I know they bounce around everywhere and cover many teams, while I cover the same team each week. So granted, I have more knowledge about the individual team I cover than they do.
But, what I do know is that you have to do your homework, just as I do each week. And if Wischusen and Huard did their homework, some of the things they said during Saturday’s broadcast would not have been said and would not have offended the thousands and thousands of Clemson fans that were watching the game.
Normally, I don’t care what other reporters or broadcasters are saying during a game. I really don’t, but when Wischusen and Huard constantly compared what Louisville did to NC State to what Clemson did not, I asked myself, “Why does that matter?”
I would understand the comparisons if Clemson and Louisville had not played, but since Clemson had already beaten the Cardinals in a head-to-head matchup it really doesn’t matter what they do against common opponents.
Then I heard this comment about Louisville’s defense, and don’t get me wrong, it’s a good defense, but this is where homework, or the lack there of, comes in. Huard said no one has done much on them. “They don’t give up big plays and they make every team earn every point they get.”
Umm, that’s not accurate.
Of Clemson’s six scoring drives against the Cardinals, five were plays of 20 yards or more. Also, in all but one touchdown drive, Clemson took less than 57 seconds to score. The longest scoring drive of the night was 2:57 seconds.
The Tigers had touchdowns of 33, 24, 37, 20 and 31 yards in the 42-36 victory, a victory Clemson was never once given credit for by Wischusen and Huard. As of matter of fact, they never once mentioned that Clemson and Louisville played.
Wischusen even came back from a break and asked Huard if anyone can beat this Louisville team. His tone made it sound as if the Cardinals were still undefeated.
It did not stop there. All during the game Huard talked about how he watched film and the different things he saw while watching film. That’s all good and all, but did he really watch the film? If he did he would not have said this is the same NC State team that dominated Clemson last week.
NC State played better against Clemson that it did Louisville, but it did not dominate Clemson. I don’t know what game he watched but I saw a Clemson team that ran up and down the field all day on the Wolfpack, but did not capitalize on its opportunities. The Clemson offense had 495 total yards. That’s not dominating.
If I was comparing, I would have said the difference in what Louisville is doing, as compared to what Clemson did not, is that the Cardinals are executing in the red zone and pushing the ball into the end zone.
Huard later said Deshaun Watson struggled against the NC State defense.
I don’t think I would say struggled. Watson totaled 413 yards and completed 69 percent of 52 passes for 378 yards. His 39 completions were a school record. He also had three total touchdowns. Granted, he did throw a pick-six, but Watson was 21 of 26 for 201 yards and threw the winning touchdown pass in overtime. At one point, he completed 14 passes in a row after the interception, his only turnover of the game.
I don’t think that was struggling.
Louisville is a great football team. I don’t think anyone doubts that, and Lamar Jackson is the best “player” in the country. No one is questioning that, either.
But, let’s give Clemson some credit.
No, it did not play well against NC State. It was the worst game the Tigers have played all year. Four turnovers, including three in the red zone, plus a pick-six, will do that. If Clemson would have capitalized on its opportunities against NC State the way Louisville did, then the Tigers would have comparatively blown the ‘Pack out as well. But that didn’t happen. It is what it is.
However, Clemson did beat Louisville, and you can say all the “ifs and buts all you want,” but the Tigers beat Louisville, too. Wischusen and Huard should have given the Tigers credit for that because when the season is done, they might just be the only team that did it.