Nobody would have predicted that going into week four of the 2018 season Bobby Petrino would have a new starting quarterback, but here we are.
Petrino named Malik Cunningham the starting quarterback against Virginia after coming off the bench and leading Louisville to a comeback win over Western Kentucky.
“Malik will start the game. He’s had 12 possessions that he started and scored eight times in those 12 possessions. He gives us energy. He gets the guys around him to play hard,” Petrino stated during his presser on Monday.
Puma’s time as the starter was ephemeral, but the question that requires an answer is should Petrino have benched Pass for Cunningham?
Throughout the entire offseason, Puma Pass was portrayed as the heir apparent to Lamar Jackson. There was nothing but praise from coaches and players about Pass. There was a sense of conviction from the entire program that Puma Pass would be a great quarterback. Even when Cunningham came in against Indiana State, Petrino attested the benching of Pass to a turf toe injury leaving no indication that Pass could possibly be benched long term.
Petrino even stated last week “I believe in him and he’s going to be a really good player for us.”
So how are we to this point? What has dramatically changed in the span of a week?
Pass played three series against Western Kentucky and the offense went three and out each possession. However, he wasn’t the culprit behind an ineffective offensive start to the game. Pass went 0-for-3 with an interception but each pass hit the receivers in the hands. Pass didn’t drop those passes and he didn’t cause Colin Wilson to fumble on a negative run. Pass had an inexcusable sack, and should have thrown it away. However, from the look of it, it appeared he was trying to buy time to make a big play because he knew his leash was transient.
On the season, his numbers consist of 28-of-56 for 341 yards two touchdowns and four interceptions.
Pass hasn’t played great during the first three games but he hasn’t been the problem of an inept offense. It has been a combination of missed assignments, poor play-calling, dropped pass, and a lack of execution.
Pass opened up against Alabama and played solid. We can’t ignore the fact that the defense gave up 51 points. Pass had to play in a virtual monsoon while Petrino wouldn’t run the ball enough and even alluded to it in his press conference after Indiana State that he didn’t help Pass out with his play-calling.
Pass didn’t get a fair shot to retain his starting job during Western Kentucky. Cunningham was told during the week, he was going to play. Cunningham was even warming up on the sideline when the game started.
How could Pass preform, knowing internally, the coaches didn’t believe in him anymore?
The same day Cunningham was named the starter, Petrino also insinuated that there were still plans for Pass to be involved in the offense.
“I love the kid,” Petrino said in a Monday afternoon interview with Ramsey & Rutherford on 790 WKRD. “I think he’ll be back. But right now I think the best thing for our football team is to go the other direction.
Petrino also said that Pass is still dealing with a turf toe injury after stating last Thursday that he was good to go for the WKU game.
“It’s been hard on him,” Petrino said. “He’s been expecting big things, but it hasn’t happened yet. I continue to say yet because I believe in him. He’s worked extremely hard for it. He’s still battling with that turf toe a little bit. Maybe when he gets completely healthy and things start coming around he’ll be back.”
Needless to say, the quarterback situation for Louisville appears to be far from settled.<