The Beak Football Breakdown: Cards vs. Cats

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The Louisville football program has had a great season and provided many exciting moments along the way. They went 5-3 in their inaugural season in the ACC finishing 3rd in the Coastal Division, and are 8-3 overall coming off a huge win at Notre Dame. Now its time for the season finally and the annual battle with in-state rival Kentucky. It will be a chance to put an exclamation mark on a great regular season. The bitter banter has had a full season to stew between UK and Louisville fans. The wait for this game has made it hotter than ever. We have had twitter wars, Facebook wars, but now its time for the gridiron version of “The Battle of the Bluegrass” to take center stage. Both programs will be on display for the nation to watch 12:00pm Saturday on ESPN2 as this game will take it’s place at the table of rivalry weekend in college football. This game has been played 26 times over the years with UK leading the series 14-12, while Louisville has been the better team and program in the modern series leading 12-8 and winning the last three meetings. The last time Louisville won 4 straight in this series was between the 03 and 07 seasons.

UK dropped to 5-6, 2-6 in the SEC after losing to Tennessee 50-16 a few weeks ago. The Wildcats have lost five straight games after winning three straight over Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and UL Monroe. They have been blown out by LSU, Georgia, and Tennessee during their losing streak. Their offense is averaging 28.2 points per game, which ranks 72nd in the country. While their defense is allowing 30.1 points per contest, which ranks a dismal 89th in the country. They are 0-4 on the road this season.

Kentucky’s 2014 OVERALL FBS RANKINGS
-PASSING YARDS
236.2
54th
Overall
-RUSHING YARDS
153.5
79th
Overall
-POINTS FOR
28.2
72nd
Overall
-POINTS AGAINST
30.1
89th
Overall

Leading Stoop’s offense on the field Saturday will be quarterback Patrick Towles who has thrown for 2,542 yards to go along with 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions this season. He is a very solid guy in that backfield who can make accurate throws while also being able to make plays with his legs. He has 295 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns. He will look to challenge the Cardinal defense with short passes in the flats and middle of the field.

Towels will also have some pretty solid run support on Saturday handing the ball off to running backs Stanley Williams and Braylon Heard who have combined for 714 rushing yards with 7 touchdowns this season. These guys will also catch passes out of the backfield. Williams has 149 recieving yards with a touchdown and Heard has 87 receiving yards.

Speaking of receiving yards Kentucky has an offense that likes to spread the ball around. They have five guys over 180 yards in their receiving corps. Leading the way in this group is wide reciever Ryan Timmons who has a team best 45 catches for 536 yards and 2 touchdowns for the Wildcats. He is followed by Javess Blue who has 516 yards with 5 touchdowns, Demarco Robinson 442 yards with 1 touchdown, Garrett Johnson 264 yards with 2 touchdowns, and Blake Bone with 183 yards with 2 touchdowns. Dorian Baker is done for the season with a knee injury.

Another guy that has also been very important to this Kentucky offense is All-purpose yards guy Jojo Kemp. He has caught some passes and has rushed for 325 yards with 4 touchdowns. They will line him up anywhere on the field including behind center to run the wildcat offense.
The Kentucky offense has thrown the ball over 2598 yards this season while rushing for 1689 yards.

Defensively, our Cardinals are allowing an average of 18.7 points per game, which ranks an impressive 14th in the country. They have only allowed over 27 points twice this season and that was against some very good units. The Louisville defense is much quicker and more talented than this Kentucky offensive group but their creativity will keep our guys on their toes. The Louisville defense will have to play disciplined football on Saturday and not take anything for granted. Defense has been the theme this season for the Cardinals and they will have to answer the call again. Gerod Holliman will be looking to break an NCAA record for interceptions on Saturday while solidifying his chance for a defensive player of the year award. I look for his to have a big day and he should see several passes coming his way. This defense will also have a group of seniors looking to go out on top. The leader of this unit Lorenzo Mauldin will put pressure on Towels all day, while B.J. Dubose, Andrew Johnson, Terell Floyd, and Deiontrez Mount will also look to have big games in this season finally.

The Kentucky defense has been the teams Achilles heel this season and they have been beyond dismal stopping the run. They are currently ranked 98th in the country in rushing defense. They have allowed forty rushes of 10 yards or more in the last 5 games. Their passing defense while not exactly great has been better as they are ranked 30th in the nation in passing yards allowed. The strength of the Kentucky defense comes from the defensive end position where they do have some very good talent. This group is anchored by seniors Alvin Dupree and Za’Darius Smith. Dupree had 15 tackles in their last game, and has 67 on the season. Smith has 51 tackles on the year. Louisville native Jason Hatcher is the heir apparent to Dupree and will also see playing time against the Cards on Saturday. He grew up cheering for the home team so he will be looking for a solid outing. He has 25 tackles this season. . I think Stoops will pick his poison when it comes to Louisville’s offense. He will load the box with 8 or nine guys to stop the run and hope that Reggie and the Louisville receiving group have an off day.

The Louisville offense is averaging 31.5 points per game, which ranks 49th in the country. Quarter Reggie Bonnafon, has filled in well for the injured Will Gardner, throwing for 842 yards with 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in limited action this season. And had a very good outing at Notre Dame last weekend. I do think that done a lot for the young mans confidence. Wide receiver Devante Parker has caught 29 balls for 555 yards and 2 touchdowns in only 4 games this season due to an injury, and I know he wants his final game in Papa John’s to be special. I think he will have a huge day. Running back Brandon Radcliff has carried the ball 104 times for 581 yards and 9 touchdowns. Michael Dyer has carried the ball 103 times for 475 yards and 4 touchdowns. These guys were monumental in the win against Notre Dame and have come up big all season. They will face a loaded box on Saturday but I think they will again play a big part in the outcome of this one.

I don’t think the “Battle for the Bluegrass” will be much of a battle but it could be pretty competitive, especially early on. Emotions will be running high like they always are in this game. These emotions can make up for deficiencies early in sports competitions but ultimately the better team usually prevails. I don’t think that there is any question who the better team is here. The Cards ability and their execution is on a different level especially on defense. I do think that our arch rivals are on the road to that in the future, but their program is still in the early stages of being rebuilt and the score board will reflect that on Saturday afternoon. Louisville’s 23 seniors will be honored beginning at 11:35 a.m. on Saturday. This senior class has been one of the best in school history, posting a solid 38-12 mark and will advance to their fourth-straight bowl game next month. They also haven’t lost against Kentucky and they won’t Saturday.

The Beak Prediction
Louisville 51 Kentucky 24

The Beak’s Prediction for the
Howard Schnellenberger Award:

My prediction for the award this year is WR DeVante Parker who will finish with 160 yards receiving with 3 TD’s. I believe he will win this award for his ability to take over this game. He should be able to have his way in a very mediocre UK secondary especially with them having to put so much emphasis on stopping the run.

The 2010 game was the inaugural year for the award. The award is given to the Most Valuable Player of the game. It is named for Howard Schnellenberger, who played under Bear Bryant for Kentucky and coached at Louisville.

Previous winners:

-(9-04-2010) Derrick Locke, RB@ Kentucky had 23 Carries, 104 Yards, for 2 TD’s
-(9-17-2011) Dexter Heyman, LB@ Louisville had 12 Tackles & 1 Forced Fumbles
-(9-02-2012) Teddy Bridgewater Louisville QB 19/21, 232 Yards
-(9-14-2013) Teddy Bridgewater Louisville QB 16/28, 250 Yards, 1 TD

Cards Defend Their Way To 5-0

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It hasn’t been pretty on the offensive side of the ball this season for the Cardinals, but they have bought into Coach Pitino and his defensive philosophy. That has helped them move to 5-0 in the early part of the season and that defense tonight helped them get a hard fought win over a pesky Cleveland State team. The Cards beat the Vikings 45-38 giving Coach Pitino his 700th win as a college coach. With the win the Cardinals are now 70-9 and have won 30 straight games against non conference opponents at the Yum Center.

It was another huge milestone tonight for a man that has left a mark on the game of basketball that will live on for many generations. At 700-245 all-time as a collegiate head coach Rick Pitino has seen and done it all. He’s a Hall of Fame coach who has built programs from scratch, returned programs to their glory, and now he’s just enjoying his life and teaching and molding players for their time between the lines and after. It has been a pleasure to watch Coach Pitino during my time as a college basketball fan, and even when he was on the enemy’s sideline it was hard not to respect his knowledge and understanding for the game. Pitino is just the sixth active coach with at least 700 career victories. I hope to see him win many more before he’s through.

It hasn’t taken very long for this Louisville Basketball program to feel the effects of losing their best shooter in Luke Hancock and their best scorer in Russ Smith. I don’t think the fans realized that the offense would take as big a step back as it has. Louisville’s 45 points tonight is the lowest score since 1997 vs. Temple, and the fewest points for the Cardinals in a winning effort since 1981. We do have some good offensive players in Wayne Blackshear, Terry Rozier, Chris Jones, and Montrezl Harrell, but we are going to need some guys on the bench to be developed throughout the season in order for the offense to improve. Louisville had 0 points off the bench tonight; first time since Dec. 5 2000 in a 70-63 loss to Georgetown. Guys like Quentin Snider and Shaqquan Aaron are pure scorers and have a ton of skill. When they learn the plays and get stronger it will help. Anton Gill is a good scorer but he is slumping right now… He will also come around. We didn’t have a very good night on the offensive side of the ball but got to give credit to Cleveland State they played a very good game and that zone defense really confused our guys tonight.

The good news is that this team is playing very good and very hard on the defensive side of the ball. They are also rebounding the ball very well at both ends of the floor. They are currently 5th in the country in FG% defense, 10th in scoring defense, 4th is steals per game, 5th in 3PT Defense, and 10th in total steals. They are currently 20th in the nation in defensive rebounds per game and 4th in the nation in offensive rebounding per game. The Cards are currently ranked #2 in Kenpoms Defense Adjustment Efficiency. The 59 points the Cardinals have allowed in two consecutive games is the lowest two game total since 1937. So right now defensive is the name of the game and it looks like that could be the identity of the 2014/15 group. The defense will also get stronger as more guys are developed.

Montrezl was marathon man tonight playing all 40 minutes of the game. His double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds really helped his team get over the hump tonight. He was the MVP of this game no doubt.

Terry Rozier is the most poised and mature player on the college level that you will ever see. Guys his age shouldn’t be able to see the big picture the way he does sometimes. That poise and big picture thinking carries over on the court and this kid goes out and does what he needs to do night in and night out. He had 11 rebounds tonight along with 9 points.

Wayne Blackshear has been able to string together a very good start for himself and he has also been a big lift to this team on the offensive side of the ball. Tonight he had 8 points and 5 rebounds.

I realize that there are going to be those fans that start freaking out and think the sky is falling especially after such a dismal offensive performance tonight. Coach Pitino tried to warn us that this game was going to be ugly and none of us listened. Yes the offense was bad, but this won’t be the norm. It will get better and this is a great defensive team. It is going to be fun watching the man that has 700 wins work his magic again this season and get the most out of this group of players. I’m ready to play some of the better teams on the schedule to see what our team is really made of. Tuesday will be a good test as Ohio State comes to town for the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. Go Cards!

A Massacre On Main

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The Global Sports Challenge has claimed its latest victim and it was the Savannah State Tigers tonight. The Cardinals led the game 23-0 with about 6 minutes to go in the first half and everyone in the building tonight knew that this one wasn’t going to be pretty. The lead at halftime was 41-7 and is the fewest points allowed by a Louisville team in a half in the last 34 years. When the final buzzer sounded it was the Cardinals 87-26. With the win the Cardinals move to 4-0 on the season, 68-9 all-time at the Yum Center, and Coach Pitino is just one win away from 700.

There’s really not much you can say about a game like this. And that was kind of the vibe in the post game press conference and the post game locker room. Coach Pitino didn’t have much to say about it and the players were hesitant to say much about the win other than they were happy and that they felt they had stuff they needed to improve on. It was a very professional and mature approach by the entire program. I don’t think anyone likes to win one like this so you just take it and move on.



It was a good game from a standpoint that some guys that normally don’t get to see much action got to get in the game. I thought Jaylen Johnson came in and gained some positive momentum. He had 5 rebounds and 7 points. I think that out of the freshman class that Jaylen along with Quentin and Chinanu really could contribute this season. These easy early games have at least helped these guys build up some confidence before they get thrown to the wolves later on.


Some of the stat lines are staggering… The 26 points allowed to Savannah State are the fewest since vs Georgetown College in 1947, Savannah State’s 19.6% Field Goal is the 2nd lowest by an opponent since 1972, Savannah State was 0-16 from the three point line. Louisville’s opponent in the NCAA last season St Louis was 0-15.

This one was just a massacre… Like Coach Pitino said it is really hard to know what to say about a win like this. I’m just glad to see the Cards get another victory, and do think that their defense is looking very good for this early in the season. Usually the offense is slightly ahead at this point but that’s not the case with this group. They are really getting after it on the defensive side of the ball and seem to have bought in early to what coach Pitino wants them to do. This can only be a good thing for later in the season especially when the offense catches up. After four games I am really confident that this team is going to do some great things this season and they are going to be fun to watch. Go Cards!

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“CARD”pe Diem

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In sports just as in life it’s all about the moments, and it’s up to the members of the team and their fans to seize those moments. Then there are just a few times in a lifetime that there is that one really special moment. There is that moment for the team that makes all of the practice time worth it, all of the sacrifice worth it. That moment for the fans that made all of the dedication worth it, all the traveling worth it, all of the ups and downs worth it. Yesterday was one of those moments for the Louisville Cardinal Football team and the Cardinal Nation. The Cardinals and their fans made their very first trip to the beautiful, historical and legendary Notre Dame Campus yesterday and left last night celebrating their first victory over a legendary team. The Cardinals beat the Irish 31-28 in a game that will never be forgotten.

Demolition of old Cardinal Stadium began last week and I can only imagine the looks you would have gotten if you had looked over at someone on one of those cold Saturdays in the 80’s and told them that someday a ranked Louisville Football team would go into Notre Dame Stadium on senior day and beat the Irish. I hope that some of those players and fans from back during some of those darker years of the program got to be at Notre Dame last night. Those players and fans deserve moments like this more than anyone.

When I arrived on the campus of Notre Dame yesterday I took in all of the great sights and sounds. It was The Golden Dome, the Grotto, and Touchdown Jesus. The whole day leading up to the game was incredible and that whole place just oozes history… Then was the pre-game pageantry in Notre Dame Stadium. From the band taking the field to the raising of the American flag it was all pretty great. And seeing my Cardinals come out of that legendary tunnel and take that field sent cold chills down my spine. I was just so happy to be in that moment and to have had the experience up to that point and we hadn’t even played the game yet.

From Kick-off to the final horn this was a great football game. It went back and forth and both teams really gave their best efforts. On the offensive side of the ball it was a Red Shirt Sophomore and a true freshman that lead the way for the Cardinals. Talk about seizing their moment Brandon Radcliff and Reggie Bonnafon did just that.

Reggie accounted for 247 total yards of offense with three of Louisville’s touchdowns two rushing and one passing. He really showed a lot of poise under some very bright lights. He had some extra motivation from up above as he was playing to honor his late father. One of his father’s last messages to him came in the form of a wrist band that said to “Own Your Destiny”. I think Reggie did just that last night.

Brandon Radcliff has ran hard all season long coming up big in clutch situations but perhaps had his biggest moment last night grinding out some tough yardage when the Cards needed them the most. He had 136 yards and a touchdown. Time of possession was important in that game last night and Radcliff was called on many times to keep the ball in the hands of the Cardinals.



The offensive line did a really good job last night and I think they held their own in the trenches especially went it counted the most. They did a really good job run blocking and pass blocking which led to both Brandon and Reggie’s success last night.

Our defense has also held up in clutch situations all season long. And that unit also had their biggest moment of the season when the Irish had 1st and goal with 1:42 left in the game. The Cardinals stood strong holding them out of the end-zone especially when Brown sacked Golson for a 6 yard loss that eventually led to an incomplete pass and the missed field goal that sealed the game. The Defense was led by Terrell Floyed who had 8 tackles and Keith Kelsey who had 6 tackles on the night.

It really is funny how sometimes things tend to come full circle. Tom King was the first coach to attempt to build a football program at Louisville. King played at Notre Dame under Knute Rockne. Louisville football would see their first sign of success under the guidance of King. And last night the Louisville football program had one of their biggest successes in Notre Dame Stadium. It was a great moment and one that I hope every Cardinal Fan young and old got to enjoy and will never forget. Go Cards!

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The Beak Football Breakdown: Cards vs. Irish

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The Cardinal’s have finished their ACC schedule and will now head to South Bend to face the Notre Dame fighting Irish for the first time in school history. This is the game I’ve had circled all season. Notre Dame stadium is the shrine for college football fans. There is so much tradition there. I’m looking forward to the Gold Helmets, Touchdown Jesus, the Play Like a Champion sign, and the Notre Dame our Mother school song. I’m also looking forward to watching the Cardinals play and get a win on that field.

Notre Dame is 7-3 after losing at home to Northwestern 43-40 last weekend. The Fighting Irish have lost three of their last four games, falling to Florida State, Arizona State, and now Northwestern. This will be Notre Dame’s final home game of the season and the Irish are 4-1 at home this year. Notre Dame’s defense is allowing 27.1 points per game, which ranks 66th in the country, and are averaging over 35 points per game on offense this season, which puts them in the top 30. This will be the 4th time head coach Brian Kelly leads a team against Louisville. The other three times he was the head man at Cincy and he holds a 2-1 record over the Cardinals.

Notre Dame’s 2014 OVERALL FBS RANKINGS
-PASSING YARDS
304.4
15th
Overall
-RUSHING YARDS
160.7
69th
Overall
-POINTS FOR
35.4
28th
Overall
-POINTS AGAINST
27.1
66th
Overall

Leading Brian Kelly’s offense this season is quaterback Everett Golson. While he’s struggled with some turnover issues here towards the end of the season he’s still a very heady QB. He has all of the weapons the arm, the mobility and the mind. He’s thrown for 3044 yards this season with 27 passing touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He has also rushed for 339 yards and 8 touchdowns. In lieu of his recent problems with turning the ball over and Notre Dame’s losing streak I look for Kelly to try and keep the offense simple for his senior QB this weekend. He will try to use his mobility and the short routes to penetrate the Louisville defense.

The Irish will also try to use their rushing attack to grind out and balance the offensive attack. They have a solid group in the backfield led by Tarean Folston who has 668 yards this season with 4 touchdowns. They will also use Cam McDaniel who has 241 yards with 4 touchdowns and Greg Bryant who has 208 yards with 2 touchdowns.

Notre Dame has great athletes and talent all over the field especially at the wide receiver position. They have six guys who have over 250 yards on the season. They are led at this position by William Fuller who has 853 yards with 13 touchdowns this season. He is followed by Corey Robinson who has 464 yards with 4 touchdowns, C.J. Prosise 412 yards with 2 touchdowns,
Chris Brown 397 yards with 1 touchdown, Ben Koyack 289 yards with 2 touchdowns, and Amir Carlisle 273 yards with 3 touchdowns.

The good news for the Cardinal’s defense is that Notre Dame’s offensive line is coming off some not so great performances. They had been pretty solid but Golsen has been running for his life in their last two outings. Also coach Petrino said he expects Lorenzo Mauldin and Pio Vatuvei to play this weekend. Having those guys back will give this unit some added spark. Gerod Holliman will be looking to break the NCAA record for interceptions Saturday and I can’t think of a better place for that to happen. Louisville’s defense is allowing only 17.8 points per game, which ranks an impressive 10th in the country. They will be ready to go all out on Saturday.

One huge area for concern for the Irish on Saturday will be their depleted defense. This unit has been plagued by injuries and they’ve been piling up in the last few weeks of the season. They had already lost several members of their secondary including leading tackler middle linebacker Joe Schmidt for the season along with safety’s Nicky Baratti and Austin Collinsworth. This week they added to that list as Sheldon Day, the anchor of the Irish’s defensive line, and freshman defensive lineman Daniel Cage went out. Cornerback Cody Riggs, is also expected to see limited playing time. Six of their starters on the defensive side of the ball are freshmen or sophomores. They will call on younger guys to step up in their final two games.

The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for our Cardinals especially on the offensive side of the ball. It gave Reggie an extra week to get some consistency developed between him and the Louisville receivers. He and DeVante Parker should have a field day on Saturday. And I also think Saturday will be a great chance for Dyer and Radcliff both to go off for big-time yardage. Our offensive line should also be able to win the war in the trenches.

The University of Louisville, fans and the players have been looking forward to this game on Saturday since the schedule was released. I know we will all be caught up in the moment and be in awe of that place on our first trip there. I just hope that doesn’t funnel down to the players. Sure these guys have been on some big stages this season but let’s face it Saturday is as big as it gets.

It will be senior day inside Notre Dame stadium on Saturday. That adds a little motivation to their side and on top of that there’s no way the Irish want to lose three games in a row. They will be ready. Our Cardinals will have to overcome that initial surge of energy and face down their initial attack. If they can do that and keep the game ugly I really feel like we have a great shot at knocking the Irish off. I will be there covering all of the action from the sidelines. Win or lose it will be a good day but I really want to be writing the winning story on Sunday.

The Beak Prediction
Louisville 27 Notre Dame 23

The Beak Basketball Breakdown: Thundering Herd

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The Cardinal basketball team will be back in action on Friday night at the KFC Yum Center taking on the Marshall Thundering Herd in the (GLOBAL SPORTS SHOWCASE) or as I like to call it the Global Sports Sacrifice. This will be the second game in a five team round robin style event. The Cards will play two more games next week in the Showcase. The Cards and the Herd have played 15 times dating back to 1941. The Cardinals have won six in a row and lead the series 10-5. The last game between these teams was back on Nov. 27, 2010 with the Cards winning 80-66. The Cards will be looking to start the young season 3-0 and coach Pitino will edge closer to that 700th win only needing 3 more.


Marshall hired one of their own Dan D’Antoni to take over the head coaching job in the off-season. Dan D’Antoni who is the brother of NBA coach Mike D’Antoni has a coaching style that employs furious defense that he hopes leads to turnovers and quick baskets. They will look to speed the Cardinals up and not let them find any type of rhythm. They do return some decent players and the will start two sophomores, two seniors and a Junior. Sophomore Ryan Taylor appears to be their best player and he is leading the team with 18.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.7 APG. Senior Cheikh Sane is their big man and he is leading the team in rebounds averaging a solid 10.7 a game. Sophomore Austin Loop who averages 12 PPG and Junior DeVince Boykins who averages 7PPG are also solid for the Herd. Through three game the Herd is averaging 75.7 points per game 75.7 while allowing opponents 55.7 points per game. They are averaging 43.3 rebounds per game, 7.3 steals per game, and 5.3 blocks per game. They are averaging 16.0 turnovers per game while their opponents are averaging 16.3.

The Herd 2014-15 OVERALL RANKINGS
Offense | Defense
-POINTS PER GAME
75.7
110th
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
43.3
59th
OVERALL
-ASSISTS PER GAME
18.7
33rd
OVERALL
-FIELD GOAL PCT
.465
114th
OVERALL

2014-15 Kenpom Rankings
Overall- #202
Defense Adjustment Efficiency
-97.4 ranks 141st
Offense Adjustment Efficiency
-95.0 ranks 261st
-Per Kenpom game prediction he has the Cardinals winning the game 83-60 based on his indexes.

I do think that this game will be a slight upgrade in competition, but the Herd will still be over-matched in every area of the game. They are a team that plays hard and they do a good job on the glass. They are also a team that shares the ball and can put the ball in the basket. I do think the Cardinals will get a better workout on the defensive side of the ball and in their rebounding game. I will be watching to see if Onuaku continues to progress and can repeat his impressive performance from the last game. Will also be watching to see if the Cardinals can get another one of the freshman to start to emerge. These types of games are very helpful in getting a lot of guys in to get some court time.

I jokingly call the Global Sports Challenge the Sports Sacrifice because these smaller teams are really no match for the Louisville’s of the college basketball world, but for their efforts these smaller teams are able to take home a big paycheck and due to the exempt factor of this event the Cardinals are able to get in some more game-time to help them prepare for the season. These games aren’t very fun to watch but they do serve a purpose big picture.

The Beak Prediction
Louisville 80 Marshall 57

Reggie…, Reggie…, Reggie…!

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I can’t wait to hop in my car and head up to South Bend Indiana on Saturday and watch my Louisville Cardinals take on the Fighting Irish. It is one of those sports trips that every avid sports fan has on their bucket list. The tradition, pageantry, mystique and history that defines the University of Notre Dame football program is unmatched in college sports. The lore of Notre Dame Stadium rivals that of some of the most legendary venues in all of sports. And it’s one of College Football’s most sacred grounds.

There have been many magical moments in Notre Dame stadium since it opened in 1930. If those walls could talk they’d tell stories of one of the greatest motivators in the history of sports Knute Rockne, great players like the Four Horsemen, George Gipp, “Jumpin’ Joe” Savoldi, Joe Montana, and Raghib “The Rocket” Ismail.

The Stadium has been described as having the power to inspire. And it has inspired some great athletes over the years, but it also was the backdrop to one of the biggest underdog stories in sports. There’s not a sports fan alive that hasn’t seen the movie “Rudy”. A film based on the real life events of the small town steel worker Rudy Ruettiger.

On Saturday I hope to be witness to one of these special moments in Notre Dame stadium. But this time I hope it is a Cardinal that leaves his story of triumph and glory among those walls and with those thousands of ghosts of seasons past. On Saturday I hope I hear the chants of Reggie, Reggie, Reggie echoing across that hallowed field.

I have had the privilege of speaking with Louisville’s true freshman quarterback a couple times this season. Reggie Bonnafon is polite and articulate and speaks softly, his voice barely carrying over the hustle and bustle of the post game locker room. But rumbling beneath the quiet demeanor is a football player with a gritty edge. That grit is what has got him through this tumultuous first season at Louisville.

Reggie who won the second string duties during spring ball has been thrown into action early and often during the Cardinals first run through the ACC. He has started three games tallying 662 passing yards with four touchdowns and one pick. Things haven’t come slow or easy for him and tragedy followed as his father Wallace died of a heart attack on Sept. 15, two days after Bonnafon’s third college game.

They say the death of a father is like the falling of a great tree, suddenly leaving a son’s trembling branches exposed to the world. Reggie only missed the following week’s game at FIU to attend his father’s funeral, and has been on the football field ever since giving it his all. Inspired by a motivational wrist band given to him by his father before his passing Reggie vowed to finish the season in his honor. The wristband said: “Know the rules. Play the game. Own your destiny.”

On Saturday Reggie Bonnafon will lead our Louisville Cardinals on to that legendary field at Notre Dame stadium. A field that has seen many a destiny fulfilled will now play host to a young man looking to claim his own. Reggie said “I just think God’s put me in a situation that he knew I was able to handle,” “A lot of things have gone on this season. I don’t think anybody but him could get me through that.”

There is a lot of holiness around Notre Dame stadium. The large mural of Jesus from the school’s library is visible inside the stadium. It is known as “Touchdown Jesus” because Jesus’ arms are raised like the touchdown symbol. I’d like to think that another father will be watching over that stadium Saturday. Watching the son he loved so dearly living out his dreams and having his special moment. Reggie… Reggie… Reggie.

Cards Dominate In The Global Sports Sacrifice

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I know these exempt games are good for practice and to prepare the teams for the season ahead, but it really is like leading the lamb to slaughter. And tonight Jacksonville State was the sacrificial gamecock. The Cardinals were dominate in every aspect of the game and won the game in big fashion 88-39. With this win the Cardinals move to 2-0 on the season and are now 14-0 in home openers under coach Pitino. Their record at the KFC Yum Center is 67-9 and Coach Pitino is now just 3 wins away from 700.

The Cardinals were about as sharp tonight on the offensive side of the ball as you could ask for. Yes the other team was at a total mismatch but when you look at this game from an execution standpoint the Cardinals did a great job. Instead of coming out and coasting through this game the Cardinals came out and played hard on every possession. Ball movement was the thing that stood out the most in this win. The Cardinals had 15 assist in this one, 13 of those came from the starting unit. Wayne had 5 (his career best) and Chris had 5. All five starters were in double figures. A hustle stat that stands out in a big way was the fact that the Cards out-rebounded them 60-26… It was the most rebounds that a Cardinal team has had since January 19th vs East Carolina.

On a day where he was named in the first Top 50 of the Wooden watch-list, was named player of the week by CBS Sports, ESPN, and the ACC Montrezl Harrell came out and led the Cardinals in scoring tonight with 15 points and he also grabbed 7 rebounds. He played very hard and will do so in every game this season. I’m going to enjoy it all that I can.

It was great to see Wayne Blackshear exit the game tonight for the final time with a big smile on his face. If anybody deserves some things to go his way it’s Wayne. He had a great night having a career high 5 assist, grabbing 9 rebounds and scoring 12 points. Coach Pitino said that he wanted to see “Chicago Tough” Wayne this season and so far he’s getting just that out of his senior.

Mr consistency Terry Rozier is a player that is going to give you what you need of him every time he hits the hardwood. Tonight he had a very efficient performance scoring scoring 13 points on 5-7 shooting. Watching him tonight it just amazes me at how hard he plays and how effortless he makes it look.

Coach Pitino called Chris Jones the best player on the floor tonight. He raved in the post game about how Chris has matured both on and off the court. He was very disruptive on the defensive side of the ball tonight and had 5 steals. He also had 6 rebounds, 10 points and 5 assist.

And what about our phenomenal freshman Chinanu Onuaku… This kid might end up on the list of most impressive freshman at Louisville. He recorded his first double-double tonight in his early Louisville career. 10 rebounds, and 12 points to go along with 1 assist, 1 block and 2 steals. Oh yea and he was 5-5 from the field. We really needed one of our freshman to step up this season and so far Nanu is answering the call.

Mango came off the bench tonight and played really hard.. He had 10 rebounds himself. I was critical of he and Nanu last week but tonight they both gave the kind of effort that this team needs from them in that 5 spot.

As I said above this game really had no chance at being competitive and I would have felt really sorry for the Gamecocks had it not for that big paycheck they will get for that beating tonight. It was worth it for them and it was a good night for our team as well. They really showed some moxie tonight and came out very business like and took care of what they had to and now they move on down the road. It was another great night at the KFC Yum Center.

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The Beak Basketball Breakdown: JSU Gamecocks

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The Cardinals will play their first real home game of the 2014-15 College Basketball season on Monday night against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. JSU is out of the Ohio Valley conference and this will be the very first meeting between these teams on the hardwood. JSU lost their season opener to the Marshall Thundering Herd, 74-55 and are 0-1 heading into the Yum Center. Gametime is at 7 and can be seen on ESPN3.

JSU coach James Green‘s teams have been known more for their hard-nosed defense than their offensive prowess. They finished dead last in scoring offense last season in the OVC but finished 1st in scoring defense. They aren’t a very big team so their smaller speedy guys try to put pressure on the ball to create turnovers. They had 8 steals and forced 10 turnovers against Marshall. They shot just 37% in the loss.

They do return some veteran players in seniors G Darion Rackley, G Avery Moore, F/C Jamal Hunter, and F D.J. Felder. Rackley and Moore are each chasing the 1,000-point scoring mark in their Division I careers. Rackley has scored 893 in his four-year JSU career, while Moore has scored 842 in his career. He had 6 made three point shots against Marshall. Hunter blocked 45 shots in his junior season. His 45 blocks were the sixth-most in a season by a Gamecock in the program’s Division I history and ranks him ninth on the school’s Division I career blocks list. And Felder had the only double-double on the team last year against Auburn.
In total there are eight returning JSU players that have started a combined 159 games at the Division I level.

JSU’s 2014-15 OVERALL RANKINGS
Offense | Defense
-POINTS PER GAME
55.0
272nd
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
35.0
180th
OVERALL
-ASSISTS PER GAME
11.0
201st
OVERALL
-FIELD GOAL PCT
.370
246th
OVERALL

JSU’s 2014-15 Kenpom Rankings
Overall- #291
Defense Adjustment Efficiency
-107.6 ranks 306th
Offense Adjustment Efficiency
– 98.6 ranks #267th
-Per Kenpom game prediction he has the Cardinals winning the game 87-59 based on his indexes.

This is just one of those early out of conference games that won’t be very competitive. It’s good that there are some of these easier games on the schedule to give the Cardinals the chance to work on some stuff and get prepared for the much tougher games down the road. Our Cardinals showed in their win on Friday night that they are again going to be a highly efficient team offensively that draws a lot of fouls and a defensive team that puts a ton of pressure on the ball. As long as everybody stays healthy this will be a recipe for a very successful season. The Cards will cruise in their College Basketball season home opener.

The Beak Prediction
Louisville 89 Jacksonville State 50

Montrezl Goes Coastal Leading Cards To Victory In Armed Forces Classic

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The first game of the college basketball season is in the books and for the 11th straight year our Cardinals start it off with a win. Louisville beat Minnesota tonight 81-68 in the Armed Forces Classic. It was the 18th time that a Father and Son coached against each other and after the outcome of this game the dads now lead 16-2. Richard Pitino has a good team and he is a very good coach but he won’t join Ed Dibble Jr and Jan van Breda Kolff as the only sons to beat their dads in a college basketball game. With the win the Cardinals even the overall series with Minnesota 3-3, and Coach Rick Pitino is now just four wins away from 700 in his career.

Louisville has always been a team under Rick Pitino that relies on the defense to generate offense. And while this team has a ton of offensive potential it was the defense again tonight that helped this team find their offensive rhythm and score points when they needed them the most. The Cardinals scored 18 points off turnovers and had big efforts from Montrezl, Terry and Chris.

Montrezl was all over the court and making big play after big play. He had a career night to start his season scoring 30 points, and grabbing 7 rebounds. He was 3-4 from the 3-point line and also showed off that little 15 foot jumper a few times. His most impressive moment for me came when he threw down an alley-oop on the offensive side of the ball and then sprinted down the floor to take a charge on the defensive side of the ball. Its hustle plays like that along with his polished offensive game that makes him a solid candidate for National Player of the Year. He made a good opening statement tonight and boy I’m glad that he came back for another year.

Terry is one of those players who lets the flow of the game come to him and doesn’t force anything. Before you know it he has 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assist and 4 steals without a single turnover. Coach Pitino said about Rozier after the game “I’ve not seen a guy work that hard in a long, long time at both phases of the game.” And Terry made it look effortless.

Chris had a very solid first game himself with 13 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assist. He was also very disruptive on the defensive side of the ball and had 3 steals. I really think he and Terry work well together and they do very well in their joint effort to run the offense.

The most impressive freshman of the night was Quentin Snider. This kid carries himself with such confidence and it carries over into his game. He had 7 points with 4 rebounds and didn’t have a single turnover. He hit a big three point shot late in the game when Minnesota was making a little run that sparked a 19-2 run for the Cardinals. I said after watching him in the scrimmages that I loved his moxie and he didn’t disappoint me tonight.

The biggest area for concern for this team will be what it can get from the 5 spot. Tonight between Onuaku and Mango it was 4 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assist, 1 block, and 1 steal. I do feel like the more experience Nanu gets the better he will get as the season progresses. I have to say that I really expected a lot more from Mango considering how he finished last year. It may also take him some time to get it going.

It is no secret that the Cardinals multiple 30 win seasons have come on the back of some really great defensive teams. I think this team will carry on that tradition. The Cardinals were very active in their pressing defense tonight and were flying all over the court. They held a pretty solid shooting team to just 40% from the floor and 22% from behind the arc just .87 points per trip. The Cardinals had 11 steals and forced 18 turnovers. If this team can continue down this path their offensive prowess will just be an added bonus to the arsenal.

Just a day before he would coach in the first game of the season against his legendary father Richard Pitino gathered with his family in Puerto Rico for the Christening of his son. Tonight Richard’s father gave him another baptism by fire. No doubt that the younger Pitino will take this loss and build on it and I do think his team will be very good this season. I really like Richard Pitino and really want to believe that the Louisville job will be his someday when Rick decides to head to the rocking chair. This really was a fun game to watch from the build up to the end. I was satisfied with how the Cardinals played and think we will have something for them come March. The road started tonight folks enjoy the rest of the season. Go Cards!

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