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Things change quick in College Sports



From a Touchdown squirrel to the NCAA bubble
It’s crazy how a few weeks can change everything in college sports. Back in early September things couldn’t have felt more promising for Louisville Basketball fans. The way too early NCAA polls were starting to circulate, and the Cardinals were one of the favorites to win an NCAA Title.

The program so hot that Coach Pitino would be the guest picker for the College Gameday event before the Clemson game. That jersey was way too little but hey we didn’t care. Rick was the man and had us sitting pretty again. Not only did he appear to have the current team poised for the success he had some very promising recruits signed. I couldn’t wait for the College Basketball season to begin.

The basketball buzz remained in the air especially after the Football team had just had another loss to Clemson. That was a bummer but it didn’t really faze the fanbase that much. There was a great feeling still in the air. The NCAA decision loomed but we had put all of the Stripper talk behind us. There was a lot of positive momentum back in the program.

I remember the weekend of the Kent State football game. Things were so good on Louisville social media that everyone was talking about a squirrel that had just run the field looking like it had scored a touchdown. Touchdown squirrel was trending in Louisville. That was on September 23rd.

A few days later it started to circulate that the squirrel had probably died from the trauma of his big moment. Then on September 29th just six days after a cute little squirrel had been the talk of the town reports surfaced that the Louisville Basketball program and its Hall of Fame coach had been named in an FBI probe of College Hoops. Only the University of Louisville could go from cute little squirrel to FBI probe in just six days. It was stunning.

Forget a black cat running across your path. If a squirrel crosses your path be ready for the bad luck to follow. Since that damn squirrel, it has been one thing after the next for the athletic program. Pitino fired, Jurich fired Jurich’s son fired, and now the BOT is in shambles.

Things couldn’t have gone any worse for the basketball program. Hype gone, Coaching staff gutted, prize recruits gone, but wait a minute. This team is showing some moxie, we are in 2nd place in the ACC… Could it be? Nope! Has a squirrel run across your path lately? The bottom appears to be dropping out again. NCAA decision could be days away “who knows”, BOT drama at a new level of yuck, and the Basketball program is the newly appointed Bubble Team.

Oh, what did I do as a Louisville Basketball fan to deserve all of this? And now I get to spend the next three weeks in college basketball limbo. Live cut-ins with Joe Lunardi during our games breaking down our bid chances, being team one or two in those blind resume segments and being the butt of whatever clever NIT joke our rivals come up with. Why oh why?

Touchdown Squirrel to the College Basketball Bubble. Things can change quickly in college sports so I’m going to try and stay positive. Who knows… Maybe the basketball gods will finally stop kicking us in the nuts.

Stay away from squirrels.

New Years resolution… Fan Up


Chances are that if you are a sports fan then there are moments in your life where sports have transcended the competition on the field of play and provided defining moments in your life. Sports have healed relationships, created long lasting bonds, brought nations together, brought communities together, and sports have inspired people for generations. In some way or other sports will impact a person in some way in their life’s journey.


With all the positive moments that sports brings to our lives there are times that they bring a dose of reality. Yes, sometimes sports serve as a sobering reminder that we are only human, and humans can do horrible things. Sports have reminded Cardinal fans just how much it can relate to real life. And while it’s happened before I’ll never get used to watching human failure.


The Louisville Basketball Program is facing the consequences of human failure. The actions of a few threatens to put a damper on things for a while. Most of us were confident that we’d get a mulligan this season with the current team having so much talent, but expectations have been lowered after back to back losses to Purdue and Seton Hall and now blowout loss to UK.

Maybe we underestimated the toll all of this would have on the current group. 
Regardless we need to get behind this program and team more than we ever have. It’s time to Fan-Up. It’s easy to go to games, cheer and be loyal when things are going well but a true fan is the guy or gal that is sitting thru those tough times with the same passion. I learned a lesson in life back in 1988.


I was a zit faced teen living in rural America. My hometown had maybe two or three families that were UofL fans. One happened to be the owner of our local drug store. They made it a point to sell Louisville gear in their store. I had become a sports fan during my 6th grade year when Louisville won the Title during the 85-86 season. I watched them win it on an old Zenith console TV that was bigger than some cars nowadays.


My mom took me to Morgan & Thomas and got me geared up. My Cardinals were the National Champions and I was going to let my fandom be known to the world. I had a hat that was a big Cardinal Beak. It was hideous. I wore that damn thing to school every day. I was the only Louisville fan in the middle school that year.


The first day of my 7th grade year I was even more geared up. My mom did most of my school shopping at Morgan & Thomas. I couldn’t wait for basketball season to watch my Cardinals. The Cardinals would go 18-14 and not even make the tournament that season. 
During my middle school days, the Cardinals didn’t have much success over the Blue either. I was tormented by my friends every season when they lost that game. During 7th grade Rex Chapman scores 26 points in a complete ass whipping. Several of my friends wore that 34-point victory on their T-shirts that year. Yes, they were even making T-shirts back then.


My 8th grade year was a heartbreaking 1-point loss at Rupp… My friends were just as brutal and trust me they made it hard to be a Cardinal fan. Peer pressure is brutal at that age. But I stood strong and 30 years ago tonight on December 31st of 1988 on New Year’s Eve during my freshman year of high school “Never Nervous” scored 20 and my Cardinals finally beat the Cayuts by 22 points 97-75…

It was tough sitting thru those losses but man it made it that much sweeter when they finally won. I couldn’t wait to get back to school after holiday break and mock my friends. It was my turn and it felt good. Even better since I had stuck by them. 
It feels good to be on top all the time, but you’ll never forget that moment of success when things hadn’t been that great. I learned in middle school that loyalty to my favorite sports team felt good and I’ve never wavered since.


I’m 45 years old now and my Cardinals are struggling, and I got a lot of text from some of those same middle school friends Friday afternoon after the game. But unlike that silly 8th grade boy I know now that this stuff isn’t the end of the world. I have developed a lot of empathy towards others. I understand the human element involved. Those are young men who have been thru hell. They had their world turned upside down. They had people they trusted let them down. They didn’t ask for any of it and none of them were involved.


When rival crowds are screaming Hookers, FBI, and Cheaters to these guys during warm-ups… these guys are taking all the heat for something none of them had any part of. They are carrying that burden. As fans do we really want them to carry our burdens? As fans do we want to be just more folks who let them down?


I hope they roll thru conference play and make a title run in March. Not so I can gloat to my buddies but because I’d love to see this team succeed. They deserve some good. But if they don’t win another game I’ll be geared up, I’m going to go to games, and I’m going to cheer for the Cardinals like I have for over 30 years. And when our program finally does turn it around I can only imagine how good it will feel.


The Louisville Basketball Program needs you now. It’s time to Fan-Up. I wish you many blessings in 2018. Happy New Year and Go Cards!


A Player that comes out of Nwora



It is the eve of one of the best rivalries in college sports… If you grew up in the state of Kentucky, then you chose your side very early in your life. I was singing the Louisville fight song to my son on the night he was born. And at age 6 he already loves his Cardinals. I picked a side 30 years ago and have never regretted my decision. I love my Cardinals and I love this rivalry. Rivalries are what define sports and every competition needs a great one. We have one of the best and it deserves the credit.

This is one of those games that you could analyze to death and a player comes out of nowhere and scores 20 points to turn things upside down. I just hope that player is a Louisville Cardinal this year. You keep hearing a lot about Ray Spalding and Ryan McMahon being guys that could have a big impact in this game. Ray will have to play an important role and I think Ryan will hit some big shots.

The guy not getting much attention this week is Jordan Nwora. He is only averaging 5.5 points a game so far, this season but I do think he could be the guy that comes out of nowhere. Nwora looked great in the season opener hitting 3 Big 3-point shots in that one. I can see him have that kind of game tomorrow. He has the size and the athleticism to give the UK defense trouble on the wings.

We are one of the few teams in the nation that can match their size all over the court. According to Ken Pomeroy’s advanced analytics Louisville is ranked 7th in average height and UK is ranked 4th. In effective height the Cardinals are ranked 13th while the Cayuts are ranked 23rd.

Anytime the Cardinals get a win in Rupp Arena they win the rebound battle and hit their free-throws. This Louisville team has struggled at times on the boards. They can’t afford to do that tomorrow. This is one of the best free-throw shooting teams we’ve had.

This will be one of the biggest tests of the year for both teams. Each must play to their strengths and attack the others weakness, but as I mentioned above with the player always coming out of nowhere there will be a scenario play out that nobody expected. These rivalry games are packed with emotion and that along with the home crowd will also factor in. I’m looking forward to a great game and an opportunity to knock off this Kentucky group. Should be another great one in the series…

Go Cards!

Official Louisville Game Notes

Not a Dominant win, but a Dominant performance against Grand Canyon

I didn’t get the dominant win that I wanted today but enjoyed a dominant performance by Ray Spalding. He put up one of the most impressive stat lines of the season today with 21 points, 16 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocked shots and 3 steals. When Ray Spalding plays at this level this team can beat anyone in the country. Give me double-double Ray and I really like our chances Friday.

I would have liked to see a more complete game today but overall really can’t complain. This team had their world turned upside down to start this season. They have now won 6 straight and only dropped 2 games during this non-conference stretch. These kids seem focused. There was a local reporter trying to bait a few of the players today in the locker room. He asked them about Quade Green’s comment about beating Louisville for Christmas. None of our guys took the bait and each was very businesslike in their response.

This team has a lot of positive momentum and if they can keep improving they will be very good. Happy Holidays folks!

Go Cards!

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Cards Survive the Great Danes


I’d love to caution fans that not every team is as good as they appear or as bad as they appear during this time of the season. Most teams are still learning to play together, and guys are still adjusting to their roles on the team. Who will take the big shot and what five do you want on the floor when the game is on the line.

Folks will snarl when they think about this game thinking that the Cardinals should have won by 20. Yes, a 20-point win would have been nice, but I don’t think that would have helped this team get better. The Cardinals have shown that there is still more than enough talent to be a serious ACC contender despite all the chaos. But there are still issues with consistency, which has allowed teams such as George Mason, Omaha, St. Francis, Memphis and now Albany to hang around. Albany was not a pushover team, they are experienced, solid offensively and have victories over Iona, Yale and more than hung in their game against Memphis.

The Cardinals found themselves down with just minutes to go in the game. That scenario provided an opportunity for Coach Padgett to see what five guys he wants on the floor in those situations moving forward. And it provided an opportunity to see what guys are going to step up in those moments. Ryan McMahon showed that he can hit the big shot. He hit several of them tonight with 15 points. He was 5-8 from the three-point line. Ray Spalding also hit a big shot down the stretch.

Our bigs struggled tonight especially rebounding the basketball. But credit some of that to a crafty Albany group who used technique to out-rebound the much bigger Cardinals. Those guys blocked out. Our guys tried to use their size advantage instead of their technique. But Learned tonight that doesn’t get the job done.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win… I’d rather have an ugly win than a loss any day of the week. I bet North Carolina fans would have rather had an ugly win tonight. This Louisville team is a work in progress and they will learn all season. I’m just going to enjoy the ride.

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Game of Two Halves


It really was a game of two halves tonight in the Yum Center. The Cardinals couldn’t find any answers on the offensive end of the floor during the first half and were out-rebounded by a much smaller Siena team. At times they just out-hustled the home team.

Give Coach Padgett an A tonight on his half time adjustments. Don’t know what he said to the guys, but they came back out for the second half playing with more intensity on both ends of the floor. The shots started falling and the Cardinals started taking the ball to the basket with some authority. They started using their size and athleticism to overpower the saints out-scoring them 47-24.

Siena Head Coach Jimmy Patsos is a character… he used a horse racing analogy to describe his team’s effort during the post-game. And he praised the Louisville team saying that their defense was a lot better than he thought coming in. Coach Patsos also said something about how every team builds towards the post season. Truth…

This Louisville team is a long way from reaching their true potential. They are going to lose games and have horrible halves of basketball like they did tonight. It’s the process. I believe in Coach Padgett and I believe in these players. I’m going to support them win or lose. It’s time to FAN UP.

Ray and Anas played in another gear tonight. Ray had a great stat line with 10 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks and 4 steals. That’s hustle. Anas was one block from a triple-double. He had 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 9 blocks. Going to need this kind of effort out of these guys every night. Especially in ACC play.

At this point in the early season the player that has me the most excited is Jordan Nwora. This kid is going to be a beast. You really must see him in person to appreciate his size. With that size and agility, he is a real weapon. He provided a spark tonight with 11 points.

It was hard to watch at times, but it was nice to see the Cardinals get back in the win column. Hopefully they will carry some of that momentum from the second half tonight into the game on Saturday against Hoosiers.

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Coach Padgett Post Game:

Deng Adel Post Game:

Anas Mahmoud Post Game:

Dwayne Sutton Post Game:

The Beak Football Breakdown: Cards vs Cats “I want to kick their ass”


The Thanksgiving Day feast is over but the real treat for football fans in the state of Kentucky will happen on Saturday. The Governor’s Cup Battle was moved to November back in 2014 and has now established itself among some of college football’s best rivalries during this time of the year. This will be the 30th time the Cardinals and Cats meet on the gridiron with Kentucky holding the 15-14 advantage. The Cards have won the last 5 out of 6 and three straight at Kroger Field.

The series may be a little lopsided in recent history but the Rivalry between fans is just as fierce as it ever was. Interim AD Vince Tyra said earlier this week that he wanted to “Kick Their ass” when ask about the game on Saturday. I think that every Louisville fan would echo that sentiment. Especially the fans on social media who have had to endure an onslaught of insults towards our athletic department over the last few months. Kentucky fans have shown no mercy. I’m hoping for a big win in Lexington and I won’t show any mercy celebrating as those fans exit their stadium.

Winning a game in Lexington is getting harder to do these days. Coach Mark Stoops is recruiting decent talent now and has some guys with a winning attitude in that program. One of those guys is Senior QB Stephen Johnson. The Wildcats are 12-8 with him as a starter. This guy isn’t going to wow you with his ability, but he does know how to win and has five game winning drives during his career in Lexington. I watched that game against Tennessee and was really impressed by his will to win. He’s a gamer and has helped this Kentucky program take another step. His versatility will keep the Cardinals defense on their toes. He has 352 yards with 3 touchdowns on the ground and 1938 yards with 10 touchdowns thru the air. Johnson is a kid that won’t lay down on Senior Day.

Kentucky has a balanced attack overall with 2087 yards on the ground and 2063 yards thru the air. But the heart of their offense is the running game with Benny Snell. He is second in the SEC with 1107 yards on the ground this season and is seventh in the nation with 16 touchdowns. He is a beast averaging 5 yards a carry. Talk about a gamer… There is no quit in Benny Snell. Point of impact will be crucial for the Louisville defensive front on Saturday. You won’t stop Snell, but you can slow him down. The Cardinals will have to slow him down if they want to bring the Cup home.

I’m not as concerned with the Wildcats Receiving corps… There is some talent there, but they are very inconsistent. Senior WR Garrett Johnson is the heart of this group with 2050 yards receiving on the season. He is the biggest deep threat receiver with six catches of +40 in his career while averaging about 14 yards a play. He and Senior WR Blake Bone will be the biggest challenge for the Louisville secondary. Bone has 234 yards on the season with two touchdown grabs. He averages almost 20 yards a catch. If the Louisville secondary plays like they have been they shouldn’t have a problem with the Kentucky air attack.

The Louisville defense shouldn’t see anything that surprises them on Saturday. Over the last couple of weeks, the Louisville defense has come to life allowing just 130 rushing and 176 yards receiving over the last two games. I think the return of Jaire Alexander and a better understanding of what their coach wants them to do is the reason for this end of the season surge. Point of impact will be a big key in stopping the Kentucky offense. D-lineman Trevon Young, James Hearns, and Johnathan Greenard will be the guys for that task. This trio has combined for 35 tackles for loss and 15 sacks this season.

The Cardinals have some freshman standouts who have helped turn things around on the defense. LB Dorian Etheridge leads the team with 69 tackles, and Russ Yeast son of Kentucky legend Craig Yeast has 20 tackles this season. I think he’ll have some extra incentive on Saturday. This Louisville defense has been getting off the field on third downs. It will be important to do that early in this game to negate the home field momentum. I like where this defense is and a few weeks ago I wouldn’t have said that. I also think they are much better than they were a year ago.

Talk about better than they were a year ago the Louisville offense is firing on all cylinders. Lamar Jackson has evolved, and I don’t think the Kentucky defense will see many ill-advised decisions with the ball or any last-minute fumbles from Jackson on Saturday. Last season at this point the Louisville offense had become so one dimensional that it didn’t take much to figure it out. That led to Jackson trying to do too much and an upset. The Kentucky defense will face a better Lamar Jackson and a multi-level attack that features some very good players.

The Cardinals have been an offensive unit by committee this season with 12 different players scoring at least one touchdown. Including seven different players with a receiving touchdown. It’s hard to beat Bobby Petrino but becomes really hard when he can run the ball. He will come to Lexington with a healthy group. Malik Williams and Dae Williams have been game changers. Dae has been brought in to get those tough yards and Malik had a career high 180 yards his last time out. I think both guys will be key Saturday along with the Louisville wide receivers.

The Louisville defense is playing their best ball of the season while the Kentucky defensive unit seems to be heading in the other direction. They are ranked 76th in 3rd down conversion defense and have had trouble getting off the field especially in late game situations. This is where I think having guys like Dae Williams and Malik Williams will be effective for our Cardinals. The strength of the Kentucky defense is in their defensive backfield with Safety Mike Edwards who leads them with 84 tackles this season and their DE/LB duo of Josh Allen and Denzil Ware. Allen and Ware have combined for 223 tackles, 36 tackles for loss and 24 sacks. Balancing the run and pass attack will be important in this game. The Cardinals offensive line will have to neutralize these guys for that to happen.

These rivalry games are always hard to predict but I do like the Cardinals chances heading into this one. The Cardinals are playing their best football of the season while this Kentucky team seems to have peaked early. Kentucky will see a better offense this season and in the end I don’t think they have an answer for that. But they do have enough offense to keep up if the Louisville defense doesn’t show up. It will take a total team effort, but I think the Cardinals pull out the win. My Turkey Holiday has been great but will be a lot better if Louisville can get the Cup back. I want to kick their ass… Enjoy the game folks! Go Cards!

Louisville Football feels fun again


This picture from the Courier-Journal over the weekend sums up what kind of weekend it was for the Louisville football program. A now healthy Malik Williams celebrating one of his two touchdowns with leaping Louie… He led the team in rushing with 180 yards. I can only imagine what could have been if he and Dae Williams had been healthy all season. This is a different offense with a solid ground attack. But better to have it now as not have it at all. This team is rolling…

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and it would probably take a thousand words to explain what having a player like Lamar Jackson has meant for the Louisville Program. He might be the most talented and gifted college football player of our time. And is a great young man to go along with all of that. Louisville fans have sure been spoiled. We went from having a player like Teddy who will forever be known and admired for how he won big games to Lamar who will always be known for and admired for how well he plays the game. And both are great people. He might not win the Heisman but we all know who the best player is.

It hasn’t been the season that we all expected but we are finally seeing the Louisville Football team that most of us expected this season. Over the last two games the offense has looked like a well-oiled machine and the defense is making the plays they were missing just a few weeks ago. Coach Sirmon was running the side-line yesterday like his pants were on fire and his defense is finally responding. It was tough to watch these guys lose those games while giving up all those points. But it sure has been fun watching them turn things around.

And talk about turning things around Coach Summers has transformed the Louisville offensive line. There was a picture floating around Social Media over the weekend titled “4 up and 4 down”. It showed the Louisville O-Line standing over 4 Syracuse defense Line-men as they lay helpless on the ground watching Lamar Jackson trot for one of his touchdowns. Last year year at this time that photo would have looked a lot different. This group went from giving up around 39 sacks this time last season to around 27 this season. That’s a big improvement. When interviewed at Media Day Coach Summers talked about his guys winning the battle zone. It’s obvious this unit is winning more of those battles now.

Everybody is healthy, and everything is clicking at the right time. The Cardinals will now head to Lexington seeking their 4th Straight Win on that field. I was on the field at the Georgia Dome when Lamar made his College debut and will be at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday when he plays his last regular season college football game. There are plenty of seats available on StubHub for all of you to join me.

Here is the link: Louisville vs Kentucky for The Governor’s Cup

Don’t miss the chance to celebrate the Red in the city of Blue. The Cup is coming home…

The Beak Football Breakdown: Louisville vs. Virginia Will there be any Defense?


The last time we were all gathered together at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium we left a little stunned as the Cardinals were 45-42 losers to Boston College on Homecoming. After a bye week the Cardinals return to their home turf in another important ACC match-up against Virginia. Important because the Cardinals could become bowl eligible and important to re-gain any type of momentum heading into the final two games of the season. Louisville and Virginia meet for the sixth time in school history on Saturday, with the Cardinals holding a 3-2 advantage. The series began in 1988 when the Cardinals defeated the Cavaliers 30-20 in Louisville.

Both teams have had their struggles on the defensive side of the football this season. Virginia is an all-around solid football team, but looked bad against Boston College and Pitt. The Cavaliers put up just 24 combined points in those two, and gave up 72 points in total on defense. Virginia’s wins haven’t been very impressive. They haven’t won by more than a TD in their last five games. As for our Cardinals, they’re getting blown out on defense and the offense just hasn’t been able to keep up—talented as it is. The Cards have given up at least 28 points in each of their last four games on the defensive side of the football. The question on Saturday afternoon is will either of these teams be able to stop the other. The last team with the football might be the winner in this one.

As I mentioned above even in their wins Virginia hasn’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard. They are ranked #92 in the nation in total offense with 374.1 yards a game and ranked #78 in scoring offense with 26.3 points a game. Leading the charge for this Virginia offense is QB Kurt Benkert. On the season, Benkert has 2278 yards, 20 touchdowns and six picks. He is a big pro-style QB who has NFL size, athleticism, and arm. I’ve watched a few of their games this season and he sometimes tends to telegraph his passes from the shotgun especially when pressured.

Jordan Ellis leads the Cavaliers rush attack with 708 yards and five touchdowns on 170 carries. I look for Virginia to try and grind out their possessions, so they can keep the Louisville offense off the field. There isn’t a better grind it out back in the ACC than Ellis. He has been a workhorse in short yardage on 3rd and 4th down for the Cavaliers. He has rushed seven times for four first downs on an average of 1.7 yards per carry and on third down, has 18 first downs, four touchdowns on 36 rushes. Ellis helped eat clock and secure a victory against Duke five weeks ago.

Tops in receiving for Virginia is Olamide Zaccheaus, with 66 catches for 683 yards and four touchdowns. His 66 receptions are tied for 5th in Virginia’s record book for single-season catches. This guy is a pretty big offensive weapon for his team. In Virginia’s five wins in 2017, Zaccheaus has caught 31 passes for 376 yards and four touchdowns, while also rushing 13 times for 130 yards and one more score. Senior WR Andre Levrone has six touchdown catches for 262 yards, or 43.7 yards per scoring reception. Overall, Levrone is No. 1 in the ACC and No. 6 in the nation with 22.57 yards per reception. These guys should keep a struggling Louisville secondary busy all-day Saturday.

Trying to stop this group is a Louisville defense that is ranked 83rd in the country. As a group they have been dreadful this season giving up 410 yards a game. Individually there have been some guys standing out. Jonathan Greenard is becoming a force off the bench for the Cardinals’ defense. Greenard has caused havoc in the opposition’s backfield and has been credited with 11.5 tackles for loss which is seventh in the ACC and 31st nationally. The Cardinals have a trio of dominating edge rushers with Greenard, Trevon Young and James Hearns. The three standouts have combined for 27.0 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks this season to pace this defense.

The Cardinals have three rookies who have stepped up and playing in a starting role in linebacker Dorian Etheridge, cornerback Russ Yeast and safety TreSean Smith. Etheridge is second on the team with 54 tackles. The coaching of this group has also come into question this season. Coach Sirmon was supposed to simplify things to make them more effective but instead they have seemed lost at times. Hopefully the bye week with solve some of the problems and the news that All-American Jaire Alexander might return could help also. I’m still holding on to hope.

For the Louisville offense things have been right on track. The Cardinals are #3 in the country in total offense with 549 yards a game this season. Lamar Jackson in my opinion is once again the best player in the country by big margin. So far, this year, Jackson has put up 2808 pass yards with 18 TDs and six picks, and is tops in Louisville rushing as well with 1029 yards and 14 TDs off 163 carries. It’s unreal what this kid has been able to accomplish is two season of college football. I just hate that he is not getting the recognition he deserves this season due to the team’s overall less than stellar performance.

There is a lot of talent on this side of the ball and it has been an offensive unit by committee this season, with 12 different players scoring at least one touchdown, including seven different players with a receiving touchdown. Jaylen Smith is the lead Cardinals receiver with 619 yards and two scores off 39 catches. Due to injury and misfortune the Cardinals haven’t been able to establish much in the rushing game. That has hurt.

The Virginia defense will be the next group to try and slow Jackson and company. Their group is ranked #30 in the country in total defense. Middle linebacker Micah Kizer is the team’s top tackler with 97 stops and five sacks, while safety Quin Blanding is next with 86 tackles on a Cavaliers defense that allows just 344.3 yards per game. Kizer and Blanding rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the ACC in tackles. This is nothing new for the duo as they finished No. 1 and No. 2 in the ACC in tackles in 2015 and 2016. Kiser ranks No. 6 in the nation in tackles in 2017, while Blanding ranks No. 15 in the nation. The more offensive plays away from these guys the better.

I don’t think this game is a must win for our Cardinals, but it would be nice to get that bowl eligibility before Syracuse comes to town for the final home game of the season and before the Cardinals must make that trip to Lexington in a couple of weeks. I still contest that this season now comes down to making it to a bowl game and beating UK, but I don’t want that to come down to one game. This has been a frustrating season all around. But there is still a lot here to cheer for. Our offense is legit. Just hope the extra week of practice without a game helps right the ship some on the defensive side of the ball. We’ll see… Enjoy the game folks! Go Cards!

Louisville finishes final tune-up against Bellarmine



Tonight, the Cardinals had their final warm up before it really starts to count on Sunday afternoon. They beat Bellarmine 72 to 57 but, I don’t think the Cardinals were as sharp as they wanted to be tonight and think that they recognized after this one that they still have some work to do. Hats off to Bellarmine for taking it right to the Cardinals. This game will help this team down the road. Playing a team like Bellarmine that took the punch and kept bringing it was much better than playing a team that laid down. This team learned tonight and that’s what exhibitions are all about.

I was really impressed with Jordan Nwora who had 8 points and 8 rebounds. This kid is going to develop into a very good player and I’m looking forward to his 4 years here. You aren’t going to see many guys his size be able to do what he can do. He has the finesse game and can stop and pop from anywhere on the floor and can bang for the rebounds. His tools are impressive.
And Deng Adel is going to have himself a season as well. Talk about having all the tools. He finished tonight with 21 points. When he decides he’s going to take the ball to the rack then he’ll get it there. His baseline dunk tonight was next level.

This team will have to clean up some things on the defensive side of the floor as it does every season around this time of the year and really needs to learn how to protect their possessions better. They had 20 turnovers tonight. I think this will get better as this team learns how to play together. Right now, there is too much rushing and trying to do too much. But after the final exhibition I’m still very optimistic about the season ahead. There will be some growing pains along the way but there is so much talent and athleticism that they can’t fail. We’ll get a better idea after Sunday because the George Mason team will be another tough early test.

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