Russ 2.0’s Game Is A Beauty, & Montrezl Is The Beast In First Exhibition

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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The 2013-14 basketball season is unofficially under way and tonight the defending National Champion Louisville Cardinals took the floor of the KFC Yum Center for the first time against another opponent. They put on an offensive show beating Kentucky Wesleyan 115 to 67 in what will be the first of two exhibitions to start this early season. Coach Happy Osborne said after the game “The good news is we get to cash the check.” But the news for the Cards was much better than that. The players were wearing the Adidas “Rise and Repeat” warm-up shirts tonight and the way things looked that may be an omen.

One thing is for sure about this group of Cardinals and that’s their ability to shoot the basketball. This may turn out to be one of the better offensive groups that Coach Pitino has had. And the two players that stood out tonight were Russ and Montrezl. These guys alone make the Cards a top 10 team. They combined tonight for 37 points. Russ has always been able to cause problems for opposing defenses with his ability to get into the lane and create offense for himself. This year they get to deal with Russ 2.0. He now looks to create scoring opportunities for his team-mates and looks to be playing much more under control. Montrezl Harrell is just a monster in the lane. If he is near the rim you can bet he’s going to try and rip it off. He had 8 dunks tonight and had it been a regular game it would have beaten the old record of 7 set by Pervis Ellison in 1988. I don’t think its a stretch to say that record will go down before the season is over. I was also impressed with the new guys. Each of them came into the game at some point and made some really confident plays. I didn’t see any wide eyes and it looks like these guys are learning quick. Jones, Rozier and Gill stood out among the new faces and combined for 47 points and 18 rebounds. Our back-court is going to be one of the best in the country if these guys have as much upside as they appear to have. Mango and Agau did some good things tonight as well and each of them grabbed 8 boards. We are going to need one or both of these guys to emerge for us down low. I was a little disappointed in Blackshear and Van Treese. I would have liked to see them stand out and have more of a presence in the game. The time is now for both of them. We need them to step up. They combined tonight for 6 points and 5 rebounds.

Other than the new foul rule causing a free-throw fest and prolonging the game an extra 40 minutes there wasn’t much to complain about in this first exhibition. These guys stay healthy, continue their progression and gel as a team there’s no reason I shouldn’t be taking an April vacation to Arlington Texas at the end of the season.

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Rick Pitino post game:

(Video courtesy TheCrunchZone.com)

Who’s Ready For Some Hoops? Exhibition #1

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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The last time we watched our Cardinal basketball team play someone other than themselves was back in April when they beat Michigan for the National Title. Tonight the Cards take the floor for the unofficial start of their title defense and the 2013-14 basketball season. They will take on Kentucky Wesleyan in a exhibition. Tip is set for 7 p.m. in the KFC Yum Center with TV coverage by WHAS 11 in Louisville. The last time the two teams met was in 2010, when Louisville posted a 96-54 exhibition victory on Nov. 11.

Louisville’s likely starting lineup for tonight’s Kentucky Wesleyan game will be Chris Jones, Russ Smith, Stephan Van Treese, Montrezl Harrell, and Wayne Blackshear. Luke Hancock and Kevin Ware won’t be playing in this first exhibition of the season but Pitino said yesterday “Kevin Ware and Luke Hancock will likely practice by the end of this week. Ware went through individual instructions last two days,” and told reporters in regards to Ware, “his leg is better than yours or mine.” Also the status on Chane Behanan is looking very promising. Pitino raved about his efforts to rejoin the team yesterday saying “I have no idea when he’s coming. But I’m very pleased because he’s incorporating a lot of changes in his life.” The team captains for this year will be Russ Smith, Luke Hancock and Montrezl Harrell.

Kentucky Wesleyan, which registered a 20-8 record last year returns seven letterwinners, including four starters along with three redshirts, from the 2012-13 team. The Panthers’ roster also includes four other Division I transfers. First year Kentucky Wesleyan coach Happy Osborne and coach Pitino exchanged pleasantries last Thursday when Rick was in Owensboro for a book signing. Happy joked that he told his team if they beat Louisville that he’d get a Panther tattooed on his face. Don’t think there’s any danger in that, but Osborne is a great coach and his teams are always very competitive. He came in with some of his Georgetown College teams and gave the Cardinals all they wanted.

I’m looking forward to seeing our guys take the floor against other players tonight. I will be watching the new guys to see how they are fitting into the offense and defense. I am also watching to see if Wayne Blackshear appears ready to take on a bigger work load this season and can’t wait to see “The Beast” Montrezl Harrell. This will also be the night we’ll see the improved Russ 2.0 for the first time running this team. Coach Pitino said yesterday this team is a little high maintenance because “they are just over the top competitive.” Can’t wait to see how that competitiveness carries over to real competition tonight. It’s gonna be another great year of Cardinal Basketball folks.

Cards Take The Bull By The Horns

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(Photo cred @JodyDemling)

The old saying goes that when the bull throws you, you’ve got to get right back up on it. Last week the Cards got thrown, but today they took the Bull by the horns and got back to their winning ways. With the 34 to 3 win over South Florida Louisville now takes the all-time lead in the series 6 to 5 and have now won three straight in the series. Our Cardinals are now 7-1 with four games remaining on the schedule.

Coach Strong after the win over USF:

(Video courtesy Jody Demling)

Teddy Bridgewater after the USF game:

(Video courtesy Jody Demling)

Today’s game with the South Florida Bulls will be the last in this series for the foreseeable future and the Cardinals completely dominated from start to finish. Louisville had the ball for 41 minutes to their 18, 485 total yards to their 133, and 26 first downs to their 8. The Cards by the way lead the nation in 3rd down conversions. A lot of folks aren’t happy with the offensive play calling, but today it got the job done and that’s all that matters. The offensive players that stood out today were Teddy Ballgame (344 yards with 3 touchdowns), Dominique Brown (186 total yards with 1 touchdown), and Gerald Christian (83 yards with 1 touchdown). Dominique has really come into his own here towards the end of the season averaging 7.9 yards per carry over the last five games. He has emerged as the best running back on this team and one of the most reliable players. He had his shot in the starting role today and took advantage of it accounting for 38% of Louisville’s total offense. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does the rest of the way.

Today the chatter on social media and on local talk radio was about the offense not being where it needs to be. There are a lot of folks that feel like the play calling is too conservative at times. I agree with that but I know that there’s a method to the coaching staffs madness and I’m not in any position to really comment on their decisions. I support this team in good or bad. My biggest gripe of the day was being reminded of how horrible the AAC is. I am looking forward to this last season in a bush league. No more playing in front of 5000 fans in a road game. I am looking forward to the ACC and better football environments.

Enjoy another Cardinal football win folks and it looks like things are going back in the right direction. They shook of a heartbreaking loss, went on the road and dominated. The only thing we can control as fans is how we support our team. This season Cardinal Nation has done that better than ever. Let’s keep it going.

The Beak Football Breakdown: Cards vs. Bulls

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Teddy Bridgewater said after the Cardinals heartbreaking loss to UCF last Friday “This is college football. Anything can happen. We’ll keep our heads up.” “You can’t live in a loss. One loss doesn’t ruin the whole season.” He is right and the Cards will have to shake off that loss quick as they prepare to meet the University of South Florida Bulls on Saturday at high noon on ESPN2. This rivalry has added some sparks in recent years and now it looks like both could possibly be battling it out for the conference title this season. Both of these schools also have the best young coaches in college football with Charlie Strong and Willie Taggart. Coach Taggart has brought a blue collar type football mentality to South Florida and with the talent on that roster they will be a tough win on their home field. They will also be looking at this game as their chance to make history. They are 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2003 and have an opportunity to do something no other USF team has done since the program started playing football, get to 3-0 in league play. The USF and Louisville series is tied at 5-5 with Louisville winning the last two games including a 27-25 victory last year in Papa Johns Stadium.

Charlie Strong Previews USF

The Bulls have had to break in new quarterbacks and many unknown skill players for them to share the ball with as they have tried to move forward from the worst season in the program’s 16 year history. The quarterback situation at USF has been one of the hotter topics surrounding the Bulls this season. The Bulls return two veteran quarterbacks this year with senior Bobby Eveld and sophomore Matt Floyd, while adding Penn State transfer Steven Bench. Matt Floyd lost USF’s starting quarterback job during the season opener, and Bobby Eveld was replaced by Bench in the first quarter against FAU. Bench went out with a leg injury against Cincy.
Taggart has now made Senior quarterback Bobby Eveld his main priority again and has said that he will continue to be his guy going forward. Eveld is a 6-5 gunslinger who takes care of the ball and has 433 yards with two touchdowns on the season. Running back Marcus Shaw had been the focus of this unproven offense out of the gate but also went out in the Cincy game with a leg injury. He has 552 yards this season with two touchdowns. If he can’t go against the Cards on Saturday it will be Michael Pierre who gets the call. He has just 116 yards on the season with no touchdowns. Andre Davis is the top returning wideout for the Bulls and he has 270 yards with one touchdown. The entire offensive line saw action at times last year and are a experienced group so they should provide reliable protection up front for the skill players. Louisville’s defense struggled last Friday and had their worst outing of the season. They should be able to get things going again Saturday against this USF offense as it is a very inconsistent and thin group.

“We understand there is a challenge with the University of Louisville coming in here. They’re a really talented football team in every aspect,” Taggart said Tuesday.

The USF defense has made a huge leap over the past couple of weeks and it can be contributed to Coach Taggart simplifying the defensive game plan. It has allowed the group to play loose and to make plays. The Bulls’ defense has scored a touchdown off a turnover in three straight games, while ranking 17th in the FBS in fumble recoveries (7) and 37th in the nation in total turnovers (13). Turnovers really hurt the Cardinals offense last Friday night and they will have to protect the ball against this USF group. They play really fast and fly all over the field. Teddy and company will be hungry to get back in the win column Saturday and I look for this to be a very good battle between these units.

“UCF played amazing defense,” USF defensive tackle Todd Chandler said. “They didn’t quit when Louisville punched them in the mouth. They didn’t blink an eye. They just kept coming back fighting and I know that’s what South Florida is going to do. We’re not going to blink.”

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A few weeks ago this looked like a game on the schedule that wouldn’t create any major problems for the Cardinals. But after the loss Friday night and the fact that USF has won their first two conference games has made this one very interesting. Will the Cardinals be able to move past the loss and not have it linger? And can USF use their momentum to pull off the upset? I do think the Cards will get it rolling again and I don’t think this USF group can generate enough offense to keep up. It won’t be as easy as I would have predicted weeks ago.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 31 USF 10

Loyalty First, Cards Forever

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Today the talk of the town especially in Miami and Louisville are the sanctions imposed by the NCAA. Tuesday morning they unveiled the findings of their investigation into Miami athletics and issued sanctions that are a very long time coming. Two and a half years later to be exact. Not exactly due process but we are talking about the NCAA here. An organization that has been bashed this past year for its poor judgment, unjust rulings on student athletes and other misdoings. Oh and did you know that the backbone of their case rest on the word of a cocaine sniffing, thieving, convict.

Tom Jurich talks Clint Hurtt

During their probe into the University of Miami’s misdoings they allegedly discovered that the now University of Louisville’s Defensive Line coach was receiving and providing impermissible benefits to recruits while he coached at Miami. They also allege that he wasn’t completely honest with them during their investigation. A lot of alleging… Today while handing out their punishment the NCAA leveled a two-year show-cause sanction on Hurtt which basically means that if he were to be hired by another university they would have to take it before a NCAA panel.

But he won’t be hired by another university because like he has time and time again Tom Jurich decided to stand by his coach and keep him at Louisville. But make no mistake about it Clint Hurtt doesn’t walk away without any type of punishment from this. Along with the NCAA sanctions Hurtt will also be punished by Louisville. These punishments include: being banned from any recruiting activity during the rest of this year and through the spring of 2014, freezing his compensation for two years, has to attend NCAA regional rules seminars in 2014 and 2015 at his own cost and will have a “zero tolerance” policy. If Clint Hurtt did do the things that the NCAA and others alleged he did 6 years ago then I think this is an appropriate response to those mistakes. Why ruin a guy’s life for mistakes he may or may not have made as a young coach in an environment where that type of behavior was par for the course?

Clint Hurtt Post-Practice Interview Today

(Video courtesy Howie Lindsey)

As you may know by now there are those among us who would dare question the decision made by Tom Jurich today. All of a sudden one of the best Athletic Directors in the country has forgot how to do his job, and the very same people who have bashed the NCAA for all of their stupid decisions over the past year now agree with them on the Clint Hurtt matter. And yes everyone is entitled to their opinions no matter how inconsistent they may be. How can anyone really be surprised by Tom Jurich standing behind his guy? How many times during his tenure have we seen him do this? Time and time again Tom Jurich has been loyal to those under his command. He is one of the most loyal leaders I’ve ever seen. And it’s that loyalty along with his ability to make the big decisions that has got him where he is today. I firmly stand behind Mr. Jurich with his decision to keep Clint Hurtt. And I applaud him for being so loyal in a world that has forgotten what the word means. Coaches all across America also heard the words loud and clear today. If you come to the University of Louisville, work hard; perform your job to the best of your abilities you will be backed by your boss. Loyalty First, Cards forever…

“Russ” and White Scrimmage

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I felt a little blue today when I got up and that’s not a good thing for a Cardinal fan for several reasons. They always say that the sun will be shining in the morning when you wake up, but that wasn’t the case either today. All was not lost though as I attended the final Red and White Scrimmage. Nothing takes the blues away like watching our defending National Champions and they also unveiled the center court of the championship floor. It looks great hanging above the terrifying escalators of the Yum Center. The guys came out with a lot of energy today and both teams went at it hard. But it was too much Russ for the Red team to overcome and the White team got the victory 71 to 52.

The first scrimmage was about the offense, the second scrimmage was about the new guys and today it was all about Russ Smith as he poured in on the Red group going for 11 straight during one stretch of the game. He was hitting shots from all over the floor and finished with a game high 21 points. The guy Rick Pitino calls “the best walk-on in college basketball” Tim “Hendo” Henderson also put on a show of his own today in a losing effort for the Red team and scored 17 points. Other stand-outs for me today were Stephan “Big Country” Van Treese with a double-double 11 boards with 10 points, and Mangok “The Mango” Mathiang with a double-double 10 boards with 12 points. Both of these guys became much more important for this team this week with the suspension of Chane Behanan. We are gonna need these guys to step up and fill the rebounding gap lost. Montrezl “The Beast” Harrell will also play a role in this effort but more from an offensive standpoint. Today the big guy had 16 points with 8 boards. Among the new Cardinals the guy that stood out to me today was Anton Gill and his 3-point shooting. He went 4 for 7 from deep and this kid has a beautiful stroke.

Coach Pitino after the third Red and White Scrimmage:

(Video courtesy Jody Demling)

One thing really stands out after watching these guys scrimmage three times over the past several weeks. They are a group of some of the best shooters that Coach Pitino has had in a long time. These guys can really lite it up in the short game, mid range and from deep. Granted the defense still needs some fine tuning but shots were still contested. Through 3 games the Cards were 170-379 for 49% in field goals, and 38-117 for 32% in 3 pointers. And while those statistics don’t reflect great shooting those numbers can be deceiving because everybody was chucking up shots in these scrimmages. As we get into real action with more designed plays and organized offense the great shooting will become more obvious percentage wise. Right now I’d say the best shooters on this team are Terry Rozier, Anton Gill, Chris Jones, and Luke Hancock. Wayne Blackshear can be streaky, but if he uses his pump fake and drives to the basket for a closer shot he can become a more effective shooter. He has shown some of that in the last 3 weeks. Russ Smith could also be much more effective by making good decisions with the ball and taking the best shot not forcing it. He has also shown the ability to do just that in the past 3 weeks. I’ve got to also give a honorable mention to Tim Henderson. We might just see the “Hendo” play more minutes this season and he can shoot the ball, especially if he shoots in stride. When Coach Pitino has this much offense to work with it will spell trouble for our opponents this year. Especially when he finds the right chemistry with this bunch.

Final Four Court in KFC Yum! Center Unveiled:

(Video courtesy @TheCrunchZone)

I’m very optimistic about the potential of this group and can see them making another run at a Final Four. If the 2013-14 version of the Louisville Cardinals can find their chemistry and bond together sky is the limit. And I’m not going to act like the absence of Chane Behanan isn’t going to hurt because it does. If Chane can come back 100% committed to the team and Kevin Ware can come back 100% healthy then that will be huge. Only time will tell I guess and right now it’s looking like both might be with the team in December. Ware is expected earlier but I think it will take a few months for him to feel truly comfortable. Now it’s on to the pre-season part of the schedule and time to see what these guys do against someone other than themselves.

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Knightmare

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The Louisville Cardinal football team lost their very first game in Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium and tonight they lost the 100th game there. Cardinal fans were very optimistic about a undefeated season and possible National Title game, but tonight those scenarios disappeared as our Cards lost a tough one to a very talented and poised UCF team 38 to 35. Like the rest of you I took this loss hard and partly because I had forgot what it felt like. Louisville hadn’t lost a football game or a basketball game in about 250 days. It was a great run but one that ended tonight.

Coach Strong after the game:

(Video courtesy Jody Demling)

This football game was about as close as you could get stat wise with UCF having 446 yards and Louisville having 445. The Knights won the battle on the ground with 196 yards rushing and the Cards won the battle through the air with 341 yards. The three skill players that stepped up tonight for the Cardinals were Dominique Brown (88 yards, 2TDs), Eli Rogers (95 yards, 1TD), and Teddy Ballgame (341 yards, 2 TDs). I thought that when the Cards went up 28-7 in the third quarter it was going to be their night but then UCF ripped off a stunning 24 consecutive points to wrest the lead with just less than eight minutes to play. All the credit goes to them for maintaining great poise especially their quarterback Blake Bortles (250 yards, 2 TDs). He was calm, cool and collected as he led his team to victory. UCF also had the “perfect storm” in running back Storm Johnson who made big plays on the ground and through the air. This guys had 109 yards rushing and 79 yards receiving. In my opinion he was the difference maker in this game and the Cardinals defense just didn’t have an answer for him.

Teddy Bridgewater after the game:

(Video courtesy @TheCrunchZone)

The Cards must now regroup and get things back together again and learn from the mental mistakes in this game. There is still a lot on the table for this season. Louisville still has a chance to win the AAC and to go to another BCS game, but now there is no room left for error. Another mishap and the Cardinals will likely end up in the Russell Athletic Bowl. And if UCF wins out that is the probable outcome anyway. Tonight the Cards just didn’t get it done, but over 55,000 fans kept up their end of the bargain and it was one of the best game atmosphere’s that I’ve ever been a part of. So kudos to you Cardinal Nation. Lets keep the passion and support going for this football team. They are the ones out there putting it all on the line and putting in the blood, sweat, and tears. Two more home games to go.

Cards take the field to a awesome crowd at Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium:

Card March:

 

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Good Chane Hunting

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Chane Behanan is a self taught basketball player with the physical gifts and athletic ability that most would die for. His problems on and off the court have always been very well documented. Chane grew up in the rough inner city of Cincinnati and was able to avoid any kind of real trouble while living there, but still was surrounded by drug, gangs and other dysfunction. Most thought that when Chane got away from that environment and got with a Coach that would challenge him to be better that he would flourish. Coach Pitino has pushed back and has always challenged Chane to overcome his defense mechanisms learned through that early dysfunction. Today Coach Pitino and Athletic Director Tom Jurich perhaps made one last attempt to get Chane Behanan to see the error of his ways by suspending him indefinitely from the Louisville basketball program. Chane apparently violated a “University Policy” and it is unknown at this time what that might be.

Chane has not lived in the players dorm or practiced with the team for the last four days according to coach Pitino. Maybe this time away from the program and this push back by Pitino and Jurich will force Chane to take an objective look at his life and what it is he wants to do with it. Coach Pitino has been down this road before with players most recently with Derrick Caracter. He does know how to deal with them and ultimately is a coach that will cut a kid loose if he thinks it will help him get his act together. I don’t know if that needs to happen in this case and I don’t think Coach Pitino has made his mind up about this yet either. I don’t think Chane has lost his way. He is just a kid that doesn’t have any healthy coping skills, problem solving skills or decision making ability. I know that most wouldn’t consider a 21 year old guy a kid but growing up with as much dysfunction that Chane did it slows the developmental stage drastically. I speak on this matter with a professional opinion and have been a Crisis Counselor for the last 21 years with 13 of those dedicated to trouble youth. I saw a tweet today that said “you can take the kid out of Cincy, but you can’t take the Cincy out of the kid” and while not the best way to describe this ordeal with Behanan it is a valid point. It is very difficult to erase years of damage created by rough environments. It takes a person to decide that they want to change their past and create a better future for themselves. Chane has said many times that he wants to be the one person in his family that does succeed and in the video below talks about wanting to be “Cincinnati’s Finest”. This very good short documentary by WDRB Sports reporter Pat Doney has the story of how leaving the city he loves may have saved Chane’s life and really brings to light what is going on with him right now.

I think this development today could be a big turning point in the story of this guys life. I still have confidence that he will get it together and wake up before its too late and he misses this great opportunity he’s been given in life. I do expect to see Chane Behanan back on the court in late December. I just interviewed Chane a few weeks ago after the Red and White scrimmage and he didn’t sound like a player that was ready to turn it in. It was exactly the opposite, and Chance talked about how he had finally realized he needs to work harder and has tried to correct his off the court stuff.

The Beak is behind you Chane God speed….

The Beak Football Breakdown Cards vs. Knights

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When Cardinal fans were looking over the schedule at the beginning of the season there were a few games that stood out from the rest. One of those games will take place under the Friday Night lights of Papa Johns Stadium this week when the University of Central Florida Knights come to town for an AAC showdown. Just like last week this game will have the prime-time spot at 8PM on ESPN, and will give our Cardinals a chance to shine in front of a national audience. Louisville leads the series against UCF 1-0, and won the only game that has been played between these teams 42 to 21 back in 1985. This Friday will also be the 100th game played at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Since the 1998 opening, the Cardinals are 74-25 in the oven.

Coach Strong Previews UCF

(Video Courtesy @TheCrunchZone

There are a lot of gifted athletes in the state of Florida and several of them are playing at Central Florida. This is a really solid football team. After a ten win season in 2012 including a Bowl victory the Knights have started off this season 4-1 with an impressive road win at Penn State. There only loss coming at the hands of then 12th ranked South Carolina by three points.

The UCF offense is a good one and features one of the AAC’s top quarterbacks in Blake Bortles. The 6 foot 4 junior has thrown for 1334 yards and nine touchdowns this season. He is second behind Teddy in passing efficiency at 144.5 and is sixth in passing yards a game 218.5. Bortles will throw to five of his top six receivers from last year, including top three targets Breshad Perriman, J.J. Worton and Rannell Hall. Perriman leads the group with 397 yards and one touchdown. Hall is second with 373 yards and three touchdowns. These two have combined for five 100-yard receiving games this season. Worton has 177 yards and 3 touchdowns. Josh Reese, Jeff Godfrey also have over a 100 yards on the season. To say this team is a threat through the air is an understatement. They have a fast, veteran, athletic group in the receiving corps.
The Knights were tasked with replacing 1,000 yard rusher Latavius Murray this season and Storm Johnson has answered the call with 455 yards and accounting for 7 of the teams 19 touchdowns.
Blocking up front for these guys, the Knights return three of their starting lineman from a year ago. Since giving up four to Akron in the season opener, the offensive line has held FIU (one), Penn State (zero), South Carolina (two) and Memphis (one) to only four sacks in the last four outings.
The Louisville defense put on a clinic Thursday night and will need another solid outing in this one to contain this good offensive group. The 2nd ranked Cardinal defense is surrendering 7.3 points (leads FBS) and 229.5 yards per outing and have racked up 23 sacks in 2013 with 8 in the last game. The Cards defensive ends Marcus Smith and Lorenzo Mauldin both rank among the nation’s best. Mauldin has a team best seven sacks and thats tied for fifth best in the nation. Smith’s six sacks place him in a tie for eighth in the country. Getting to Bortles Friday will be key and these two will be up for the challenge. It should be fun watching these units go after each other.

The Knights were one of the top defenses in the country in multiple statistical categories last year and are again this season. This unit is anchored by linebacker Terrance Plummer, safety Clayton Geathers, and defensive back Jacoby Glenn. Plummer led the Knights in tackles in the first four games, has 40 tackles on the season including a leading 5 for loss. Geathers has collected 228 tackles during his career, including 42 in 2013 and Glenn is tied for 22nd in the nation by averaging 1.4 passes defended a game (six break-ups, one interception). That also is good for second in The American.
Up front, the Knights return a strong unit and they had five sacks in the win at Memphis. They have been a handful for opposing offensive lines. This UCF defensive group has five picks and seven fumble recoveries this year, and stands plus-7 in turnover margin. That margin ranks tied for sixth in the FBS. They rank 11th in the country and second in the league in fumbles recovered.
In the win over Rutgers the Cards 16th ranked offense had a 300-yard passer, 100-yard receiver, and a 100-yard rusher. Teddy and company are averaging 41.0 points and 505.3 yards per game, and rank first in college football in third-down conversion percentage (63.6). I don’t see them having too many problems solving the riddle of this UCF defense, but it won’t be easy.

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This could end up being the best game of the season and things could get very interesting on Friday night. UCF looks at this season as their one opportunity to grab that elusive automatic BCS bid and they know that road leads through Louisville. They have had extra time to prepare for the Cardinals during their bye week and will come into this game ready to go. I look for this to be an instant classic and a battle all the way. I give the Cards the advantage with a rowdy home crowd, a Heisman Quarterback, and the nations 2nd best defense. Our Cards will be 7-0 after this week.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 33 UCF 24

New Cards Shine In 2nd Red & White Scrimmage

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(Photo Courtesy @JodyDemling)

In the first Red and White Scrimmage the offense was the highlight of the day and it was obvious after watching this group for the first time that scoring points wasn’t going to be an issue during 2013-14 season. After watching the second scrimmage today it is obvious that the young guys on this team are going to be really special. It was the Red team that was victorious over the White squad today 70-65 in a scrimmage that came down to the wire.

-RED TEAM

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In the last scrimmage Chris Jones looked as though he was battling nerves and didn’t look very comfortable under the lights of the Yum Center. Today it was a different Chris Jones. Today we got to see the Chris Jones that was touted as the best Juco player in the country. He looked very comfortable leading the Red team to victory scoring a game high 24 points. He really showcased his skills today. He is a guard that can hit from deep, has that sweet stop and pop, great at the drive/dish, aggressive rebounder and he took over the game today in the final ten minutes of play. Welcome to the Ville Mr. jones…

Terry Rozier wasn’t shy in his debut last weekend and today he showed out again scoring 14 points to help lead the Red team over the White. There’s not going to be another first year player have as big a impact on his team this year than Terry. This kid can flat out get it done. I am in my zone when I’m on the couch at home watching sports. Rozier is in his zone when he has a basketball in his hands and is on a basketball court. He does it all. Rebounds, passes, plays defense, and is clutch. He had a steal and a dunk in the closing seconds today to seal his team the victory that would have been on Sportscenter had it been a real game. I have a video of the play below:

“The Mango” came out today and played a hard and aggressive game. He was able to score 9 points and had 7 boards in his teams winning effort. He has some pretty big shoes to fill replacing Gorgui, but I am very confident in what I have seen of his game so far.

The new and improved Wayne Blackshear came out hungry and energetic again this afternoon scoring 14 points in his teams winning effort. He was going all out again on both ends of the floor. I just love seeing this guy come into his own. Wayne is going to be really fun to watch all year.

Stephan Van Treese is a work horse plain and simple. He had another blue collar performance today as he grabbed a team high and game high 11 rebounds.

-WHITE TEAM

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Russ Smith went head to head with Chris Jones today in what was a great battle between a duo that is gonna cause college basketball to have a lot of headaches this season. They really needed shoulder pads and a helmet the way they were going at it down the stretch. Russ had a good effort with 22 points and more importantly for him had a team high and game high 8 assist. We are really seeing a different Russ so far.

Chane Behanan was playing some inspired basketball again today and had the second highest rebound total with 9. He looks very good early on and seems like he is gonna be ready to go when the season officially starts.

“The Beast” Montrezl Harrell had somewhat of a quite day for him and didn’t stand out as much as he did in the first scrimmage. But he still had 14 points.

Anton Gill was on this team of veterans and he hit some clutch three point shots down the stretch of this game to help bring the White team within one point in the closing minutes. He has a beautiful shooting stroke and even manages to keep his form when his legs get tired at the end of the game. He’s one of the best shooters on this team. He was 2-5 from three point land with 8 points.

The nations number one role player Tim “Hendo” Henderson played another good game and had 8 points. Tim seems to have a little extra moxy about him this season.

Some good quotes from Coach Pitino today during the scrimmage saying before the scrimmage how he felt like this team was “going to be really special” and again talking about how well his young guards rebound the ball. He seems really excited about that as he mentioned it last week in his press conference after the game. He also mentioned how he thought there were going to be a lot of hand check fouls called early this season by the officials. Says that it will make the team better and that they will have to learn how to play defense more effectively.

Another good scrimmage and a lot of things starting to shape up with this group. They are going to be special. I can’t think of the last time I was this excited about the young guys. They are going to have an immediate impact. They really impressed me today with how they took it to the veteran white group. It’s gonna be another fun one Cardinal fans.