Louisville vs Purdue: College Football Civil War

It is that time of year again… we’ve made it through another sports dry spell and now are weeks away from the start of another College Football season. There are several intriguing match-ups to open the regular season but none more than the Cardinals and Boilermakers. There is not much history between these teams and the only time they played back in 1987 the game ended in a 22-22 tie. But there is a lot of history between the Louisville Program and men who will be leading their teams into battle on September 2nd in Indianapolis.

To say that Louisville’s opener against Purdue hits home would be a massive understatement. If your last name is Brohm you are born a football fan. They are arguably the first family of football in this hoops crazy state of Kentucky and in the city of Louisville they are football royalty. The Brohm family, including mother, Donna, and sister, Kim, were recently inducted into the Louisville Catholic Sports Hall of Fame for their contributions to the game.

It all started with the patriarch of the Brohm family Oscar. Oscar Brohm was a Football standout at Flaget High School in Louisville during the 1962-65 seasons. An all-state performer he led Flaget to a 10-1 record and the Louisville City Championship in 1965 setting a Louisville city school record with 23 touchdowns. He was a passing QB when passing wasn’t cool. Oscar played QB for the Cardinals during the 1968 and 69 seasons. He would pass his offensive prowess down to his sons and they all helped create a football dynasty at Trinity High School in Louisville and for the hometown Cardinals. There have been four Brohm family members to be a football letterwinner at the University of Louisville, Oscar (quarterback 1966-69), Jeff (quarterback 1989-93) and brothers, Greg (wide receiver 1989-92) and Brian (quarterback 2004-07).

Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm had an outstanding career at Louisville from 1989 to 1993. He ranks among the Cardinals’ career leaders in touchdown passes. Jeff Brohm also served as an assistant coach at Louisville (quarterbacks coach in 2003-06, assistant head coach/passing game in 2007, and assistant head coach/offensive coordinator in 2008).

Greg Brohm is in his first season as executive director of administration and operations at Purdue. He was the starting wide receiver during the Cardinals’ 1991 appearance in the Fiesta Bowl, catching passes from his brother, Jeff. Greg served as the director of football operations at Louisville from 2004 to 2008. He also worked in local media and served as an analyst for the Louisville Cardinals’ radio broadcasts.

Brian Brohm is the Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks coach for Purdue… Before there was a Teddy and Lamar it was Brian who led the 2006-7 Cardinals to a 12-1 record, Orange Bowl championship, and a #5 final ranking in the Associated Press poll. His 30 touchdown passes that season are tied for second in school history with 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, and one behind Minnesota Vikings’ 2014 first-round draft pick Teddy Bridgewater. Brian is the only Louisville QB to be so close to a National Championship. In my humble opinion that team was a field goal away from playing for the Title. What could have been that season still haunts me.

During their three seasons together Jeff, Greg, Brian and Coach Petrino led the Louisville program to 32 wins, Liberty Bowl win, Orange Bowl Championship, Conference USA and Big East championship and twice finished in the Associated Press top 10. And by popular opinion were a field goal away from a possible National Championship. There isn’t anyone who has had a bigger impact on the rise of the Louisville football program than the Brohms and now they will be on the opposite sideline as the Cardinals open up the 2017-18 College Football season.

In his book The American Civil War, John Keegan wrote that “The American Civil War was to prove one of the most ferocious wars ever fought”. Not only for its nature but in the way it was fought. It was family battling family right in their own backyards. On September 2nd College Football is having its own version of a Civil War. Right in Louisville’s backyard in Indianapolis and it will be family versus family. I will be among the Louisville fans who will be torn on that day. The Brohm Brothers were Louisville First and they will be Cardinals Forever. If there is a more intriguing match-up on the first full weekend of the College Football season I don’t see it.

36 Days Away…. Go Cards!

Clutch Cardinal Recruiting Lands Late All-American Bowen

I have been waiting to post this big news ever since the rumor mill started spinning this week about Brian Bowen but I didn’t want to talk about it or count my chickens before they hatched. But now it is official and Bowen is going to be a Cardinal. Bowen is a legit 5* and an incredible athlete. He has a scoring prowess that should have a profound impact on the Cardinal Basketball season. His addition really should put Louisville right back in the conversation as National Title contenders.

This late addition to the Cardinals 2017 recruiting class is big in so many ways… It really shows that coach Pitino can still go out and land the great talent and its just further proof that this coaching staff is doing a great job to keep up with the growing challenge of keeping a college basketball program in the mix with the best in the country. Just this week it was reported that Louisville basketball had finished 7 consecutive seasons ranked in the AP Top 25 and that they were only 1 of 3 schools to achieve that feat in that time-frame. The way things are looking that streak will likely continue.

And after all the turmoil and chaos surrounding the stripper scandal news like today is just a breath of fresh air breathed back into the program that I love so dearly. I think that this solid recruiting class is just further proof that we have all that crap in the rear-view and that things are only looking up from here. Louisville Basketball is trending upward and we have a lot of great basketball ahead. We will have one of the best teams in the country this season and are looking head on at another great recruiting class next season with the possible addition of the best underclassman in the country 5* Romeo Langford. The future looks bright.

The commitment by Brian Bowen today pretty much backs up my sentiments. His camp sits back and watched how things unfolded during the college basketball off season. They studied the top teams carefully watching what key guys left early for the NBA draft, looked at the talent teams had coming back, and decided that Louisville would be the best spot for his development, get his minutes and to make a serious tourney run.

Folks I’m so excited today and nothing could wipe this smile off my face. Bowen has a jump shot that is as sweet as churned butter. And I love his hair. Trust me when I say that you all are going to enjoy watching this kid for hopefully a few years. Have a drink of your favorite beverage today and be sure to make a toast to the Louisville coaching staff. This was as clutch of a late add as you will ever see. Go Cards!

ESPN Evaluation
Bowen is a big and skilled wing who is full of upside. He is a legit six-foot-seven right now and pushing six-foot-eight. He has grown almost two inches since the end of his 8th grade year and might not be done yet gauging from his big feet and lanky frame. He has become a somewhat prolific scoring from all three levels on the floor. From a results standpoint he is extremely effective and efficient from the catch and shoot three point shot an dwell as the one dribble pull-up. He can put the ball on the floor going in either direction with outstanding perimeter footwork, and is a virtually ambidextrous scorer inside the paint with his floater game. His shooting stroke has made considerable progress when he is able to set his feet and fire with room and rhythm and will even take smaller defenders to the low post. His length gives him a definite weapon on the defensive end of the floor.

Weaknesses: A solid athlete who can play above the rim but doesn’t yet possess explosiveness or blow-by quickness off the bounce. His frame is long and lean so overall body strength and muscle to fill out his frame is a must. He is working through contact and can consequently be bumped off the line of his drive or finish. The release on his jumper is sometimes slow, and so he can consequently spray shots when his stroke is rushed. His skills say he needs a little time and space and he will do that best by learning to cut off and read screens and move without the ball.

Bottom Line: For a player who scores points and is a high level shot maker Bowen understands when he is open and doesn’t force the issue. In the college he can play at the four spot for some small ball game. Run a quick hitter or a set play and free up Bowen and the percentage s are good that he is making the shot. As he continues to fill out his frame and become a committed defender in a constant stance he will be an impact at the high major level. Bowen has become one of the better shooters in the class and as he continues to fill out his frame, become defensive minded he could easily grow in a 3 and D player for the NBA.

Bowen Highlights:

I’m ready to Kick the Big Red Elephant out of the room

Back in October of 2015 the Louisville Basketball program fell under a dark shadow of scandal that has been ongoing for close to two years. The program faces allegations from the NCAA that include four level 1 violations by the basketball program and criticism of Coach Pitino for failing to monitor a former Cardinals basketball staffer… That dark shadow has now become the big red elephant in the room and hopefully in about 6 or 8 weeks we can move past this crap forever.

6 to 8 weeks is what Tom Jurich said in downtown Cincinnati Thursday after meeting with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, a group of lawyers and college and conference administrators. This is a hearing that plays out like a trial in court, with lawyers representing both parties. Louisville’s final chance to state their case. The University feels like they did enough by self-imposing a post season ban and taking away two scholarships. I agree. And think it’s time for the NCAA to let our program move on from this.

Here’s Tom Jurich’s full statement from Thursday:

As far as Coach Pitino’s part in this… when you put your trust and confidence into someone you in some way bear a certain level responsibility for their actions as well as your own. We all have an alter ego… Unfortunately for Coach Pitino his director of basketball operations alter ego was Ronnie Mund of the Howard Stern show. And instead of showing recruits around campus Andre McGee was running thru the halls of Minardi Hall screaming “let’s fuck some whores”. A guy like Coach Pitino runs in close circles think of it as a “circle of trust” and he had someone he trusted let him down. I do think Coach Pitino will be held responsible for trusting Andre McGee and agree he should. That’s just the way it goes.

I’ve seen and heard folks talk about the NCAA possibly stripping Louisville of the 2013 National Title. That has never been done and wouldn’t make any sense if it happened this time. If it did happen it would be more about bad politics within the NCAA than a player getting a lap dance. Having strip shows in the dorm didn’t have anything to do with the out-come of the 2013 season. It didn’t make those players collapse in tears on the court in Lucas Oil stadium when their brother Kevin Ware was injured and it didn’t help those players rally together and win that game. It didn’t help a walk-on Tim Henderson bury two three point shots in the National semi-finals and it didn’t help Luke Hancock go 5-5 from the 3-point line and score 22 points in the Title game. Those guys weren’t even mentioned in all of this. There is nothing that happened with those strippers in that dorm that did anything to help the 2013 Louisville basketball team win a National championship.

Why should those players have that special season taken away from them because the guy watching over them acted like he was in an episode of Blue Mointain State. The 2015-16 Louisville basketball team has already paid the price for Mcgee’s stupidity. And what about the fans. I waited 25 years to be in Atlanta that night for that moment. We all did. I followed that team at every stop along the NCAA path that season. Cardinal fans paid the price during the 2015-16 season and I think we paid again this past season. That post-season ban set this program back. The price has been paid.

Whatever comes our way here in a few weeks I will just be happy to get this over with. I’m ready to kick that big red elephant out of the room for good. We have all suffered enough.

I got a Sense of Renewal at the First Open Football Practice of Spring

It took some time to process the Louisville football team’s loss to LSU and the awful way they ended the 2016 football season. The Cardinals would start the 2016 season with a lot of optimism and promise. But it wouldn’t end that way. There is an old cliché that says the third time is a charm… And although Coach Petrino finished the season with 9 wins and a 7th straight trip to a bowl game I don’t think his third season back as the head football coach at Louisville would be considered a charm. He finished last season with a lot more questions than answers about his football team. What had been a return full of praise and perceived success now mired by some failure and skepticism. The honeymoon is over.

But Spring is a time of renewal, and new growth and the signs of change are all around us. The same could be said for the Louisville football program. New coaches, new players stepping into key roles and an overall change in attitude seems to be the theme of the Cardinals Spring Football workouts. I got a real positive vibe being out on the practice fields on Friday afternoon for Louisville’s first open practice. There seems to be a renewed spirit along with more intensity overall and a greater attention to detail. And it’s not just the coaches who are leading the way. I noticed that the players were encouraging each other and holding each other accountable as well. That shows me that this coaching staff already has these guys buying in.

Here are a few other things that stood out to me:

The Louisville defensive unit had a lot of hop in their step on Friday afternoon. They weren’t just going through their reps and seemed like they were having some fun. I think new Defensive Coordinator Peter Sirmon has simplified things trying to make the defense more active instead of reactive. He and his assistants were really paying attention to detail but doing it in a way that their players better understood it. Or at least it seemed that way to me. Coach Sirmon has said that his players will set the depth chart. Just by being around this unit for a couple of hours it appeared that the message has been heard loud and clear. There are a few players who stood out. SR Safety Chucky Williams was active along with SR Linebacker Stacey Thomas, Junior Corner Jaire Alexander and Sophomore Corner Cornelius Sturghill. Some younger guys stepping up on Friday were Redshirt Freshman PJ Blue and Sophomore Linebacker Amonte Caban. There are a lot of studs on this side of the ball for the Cardinals. I really like this unit.

The Louisville Offensive line was horrible last season. There is not a nicer way to put it. They just completely stopped trying to block anyone in the Bowl game. There is footage of them literally side stepping a defensive lineman. If Louisville is ever to take the next step up Program wise, then this is an area that must be fixed and fixed fast. Enter new offensive line coach Mike Summers. Coach Summers hasn’t changed much since his last run in Louisville maybe a little greyer around the edges but the intensity is still the same. Watching this group on Friday I really like our size. Players like 6-7 315-pound SR Toriano Roundtree, 6-6 324-pound JR Lukayus McNeil, and 6-6 318-pound JR Geron Christian look the part. If they can learn some of that intensity and take on the identity of their new coach, we should see a big step up from last season.

Watching the offensive unit on Friday I can tell you that this team has a lot of talent at the skill positions and some size too. I could watch Lamar Jackson launch bombs to 6-6 JR Wide receiver Devante Peete all day. These guys tried that connection several times on Friday afternoon. Coach Petrino has several dimensions to his offense and again has the players to get it done at every level. I was most impressed with Redshirt Freshman Running Back Dae Williams. This kid doesn’t get rush yards he gets rumble yards. He and SR Running Back Jeremy Smith would be a great 1-2 punch. The play of the day was made by Sophomore Tight End Jordan Davis who had an impressive one handed grab for the completion. Wide Receivers coach Lonnie Galloway and Running Backs coach Kolby Smith are “Players Coaches”. They were right on the heels of their guys Friday. Smith was running through the gap with his guys making sure they ran every single play out. I think this will pay off this season. The Cardinal offense will be legit.

There was a lot of blame to go around last season but very little if any should land on the shoulders of QB Lamar Jackson. He had one of the most impressive individual performances in a season that won’t be duplicated for many generations. The only bad thing about that is that his team didn’t leave him with much choice. I think being surrounded by a solid team could really make his stock go up even more. There seems to be a big emphasis on using some of the other talent on this team and coach Petrino really spread the ball out on Friday afternoon. He had Lamar using his legs and his arm. Just watching and observing one practice I think we will see a more complete player this season out of our Heisman Trophy winner. I love seeing him hurdle players but it’s also fun to watch him throw those bombs.

It’s hard to really take in all that you want during just one of these practices but I did try to make my way around observing the things that I felt important to follow up on from last season. You’d have to search far to find someone who was more disappointed at how the 2016 season ended. But the program responded to that disappointment and positive change filled the spring air on Friday. I really like what I see and my optimism is thru the roof. I plan on heading back out to the practice fields on Tuesday the 28th for the second Open day. I would encourage you folks to do the same. Go Cards


Senior Day Salute…

We have reached the part of the college basketball season where teams are winding up the regular season and ramping up for the post season tournaments. Years of hard work hang in the balance as seniors across the country near the end of their college basketball careers, and programs all over the country are having their Senior Night/Day ceremonies. On Saturday, the University of Louisville will honor three players for their contributions to the program. On Saturday, seniors David Levitch, Mangok Mathiang and grad transfer Tony Hicks will lace em up for the last time in that locker room, will come charging out of that tunnel to the alma mater for the last time, and will get the love and admiration from the Yum Center crowd for the last time.

Ceremonies like on Saturday are part of the process that allows closure for the seniors and a passing of the torch to the underclassmen, but in successful programs like the University Louisville the tradition never graduates. This program is rich and vibrant because many groups of seniors have cared enough to give their very best. There are still many chapters that have yet to be written, but the 2017 basketball seniors have added to the outstanding tradition of the Louisville program. David and Mango have been a part of an AAC Regular Season Championship, AAC Tournament Championship, Sweet 16, Elite 8, and have helped the program win 104 games. Tony Hicks had some big shoes to fill following two great grad transfers from last season. He has battled injury and struggled to find his place but has kept at it and contributed in some wins this season. These guys aren’t done either as all will play a big part in the post season.

The walk-on spot at the University of Louisville has become synonymous with passion, heart and determination. Coach Pitino has used this roster spot to find local kids who have dreamed of playing for the Cardinals and give them the opportunity to fulfil that dream. David Levitch played at North Oldham high school and has said that Louisville is “where he always wanted to play” and that it was his dream school. He said that the best basketball advice given to him was “always work to get better”. He followed that advise and has got better every season and earned himself a scholarship. The effort that David has always displayed when he got his playing time is what has stood out to me. The young man has one gear and that is “go”. He is unselfish and the total team player. It has been fun watching him succeed.

A foot injury provided him a red-shirt year and it seems like Mango Mathiang has been on campus for 10 years. He has always been the guy on the team that provided a lighter side of things making his team-mates laugh. In the serious nature of high profile college athletics that is a necessary thing to have. He has had his ups and his downs and like with every player that comes through the program we have watched him grow up both as a person and a player. He has played an important role in a lot of wins. Two moments that stand out to me was the free-throw he hit in 14-15 to send the East Region Championship game into overtime and the last second shot he hit to beat #2 Virginia in the season finale that same year. Mango said that the best basketball advice given to him was “if you really love basketball, work hard and you will make it.” Well you made it Mango. It’s been fun to watch your journey.

I’m happy that I will again be a part of the Senior Day ceremonies at the University of Louisville and this will be my fourth year covering the event. It’s always a special day and Saturday will continue that tradition. Hope the Cardinals can get a big win over Notre Dame and send these guys out on a winning note. Go Cards!

Signing Day Success for the Cardinals

Coach Petrino has taken the winning culture left at the University of Louisville by the last coaching staff and capitalized on it. Over his first three seasons back he has won 26 games, 17 conference games and became bowl eligible for a 7th straight season this past year. All of this while facing some of the toughest scheduling in years. After a three game losing streak to end this past season it left folks with a lot more questions than it did answers, and it left Coach Petrino heading into year number four knowing that he had to make some changes in order to reach a new plateau. He didn’t waste any time in changing things around in his coaching staff hiring new offensive line coach Mike Summers and a new defensive coordinator in Peter Sirmon. The next step in the process was to address the recruiting needs of his team and yesterday he signed 22 new Cardinals that should do just that.

The 2017 recruiting class could end up being the backbone of things reaching that next level for the Louisville Football program. Despite the results at the end of the season there has been a lot of success on the field at the University of Louisville and now that success is starting to spill over to the recruiting trail. Not only does Coach Petrino have a lot of wins in his back pocket he now can boast a Heisman Trophy winner. The Cardinals headed into this 2017 Class needing receivers, running backs and offensive linemen… The biggest grabs of this class are ESPN 300 WR Justin Marshall followed by WR’s Joshua Johnson and Corey Reed Jr. all out of the Peach State. ESPN 300 RB Colin Wilson was a big get along with three-star tight end Kemari Averett who will be another pass catcher. On the defensive side of things C.J. Avery is a top-10 safety and a tempo changer in the back-end. Three-star safety TreSean Smith is a steal out of Ohio and four-star corner Russ Yeast II could be a true difference-maker. The duo is joined in the secondary by some guys with a lot of upside in Lyn Strange, Kaheem Roach and Anthony Johnson. ESPN JC 50 Ronald Rudd along with 4* OT Toryque Bateman and 3* OG Cole Bentley are the biggest grabs along the line and this group is physically ready to contribute.

Yesterday was a big success for Coach Petrino and his staff and I think that they will be able to carry some of that positive momentum into the spring. Cardinal fans also seem to still be very excited about what the future holds as it was announced to the crowd last night that season tickets were sold out and that there was a waiting list. The 2017 recruiting class had 14 three star signees and 7 four star signees… The class was ranked 29th by ESPN, 28th by Rivals, 32nd by 247 Sports and 31st by Scout. I do think that this class will be big help for years to come especially in helping establish a solid offensive line. I’m already looking forward to getting out to the practice fields this spring and seeing these new guys get after it.

One of the best things about National Signing Day is Louisville’s Signing Day party. I really like how the coaches get up and break down each guy in the class. It gives that inside look at just how they evaluate these guys throughout the process. Below is video of the Coaching staff breaking down the 2017 Class… Enjoy! GO CARDS!

Coach Petrino talks Russ Yeast & Caleb Chandler Signing Day Party 2017

OL Coach Mike Summers talks Ronald Rudd, Toryque Bateman & Mekhi Bectom Signing Day Party 2017

WR Coach Nick Petrino talks Malik Cunningham & Joshua Johnson Signing Day Party 2017

Secondary Coach Cort Dennison talks CJ Avery & Anthony Johnson Signing Day Party 2017

LD Scott talks Kam Jones & Malik Clark at Louisville Signing Day Party 2017

Coach Klenakis talks Kemari Averett & Cole Bentley at Louisville Signing Day Party 2017

Kolby Smith talks Colin Wilson & Mitch Hall at Signing Day Party 2017

Coach Lorenzo Ward, talks Kaheem Roach & Lyn Strange at Signing Day Party 2017

Coach Lonnie Galloway talks Justin Marshall & Corey Reed at Signing Day Party 2017

Coach Peter Sirmon talks Rodney Owens, Dorian Etherdge, & TreSean Smith Signing Day Party 2017

OL Coach Mike Summers Returns to Louisville

With the way, the Louisville football team ended their season it left more questions than answers for Cardinal fans. Well maybe Coach Petrino is starting to answer some of those tough questions. We learned this past week that Todd Grantham had been replaced as defensive coordinator. That coaching shake-up was a little unexpected as most thought if anything it would be the offensive line coach Chris Klenakis that would be replaced. Today during the Duke game, we have now learned that will indeed happen. Florida offensive line coach Mike Summers will be the new head man for the guys in the trenches.

The Cardinals finished the season ranked 124th allowing 3.62 sacks a game and 95th in Tackles for loss allowed. When you have a guy as fast as Lamar Jackson being tackled so much in the back field you know that the O-line must be doing something wrong. After years of inconsistent play out of the O-Line position something had to be done to try and correct things. College football games are won and lost by what happens in the trenches. All of Louisville’s losses over the last three seasons can be attributed to the poor play up front. It was time to shake things up.

Enter Mike Summers who will try to get this unit better. Summers is no stranger to Louisville fans as he coached the offensive line here during Coach Petrino’s first time around. The Cardinals rushed for 2,974 yards in 03, 3,005 yards in 04, 2,278 yards in 05, and 2.411 in 06. In 2003, the Cards set a then-school rushing record while ranking fifth nationally in total offense (488.9) and 10th in rushing offense (228.2). Two offensive linemen, Jason Spitz and Travis Leffew, were All-Conference USA first-team in 2004 and All-Big East first team in 2005. During his tenure, Louisville won the 2004 Conference USA Championship and 2006 Big East title, and played in the 2007 Orange Bowl, 2006 Gator Bowl, 2004 Liberty Bowl and 2003 GMAC Bowl. The 2004 and 2006 Cardinal teams both finished ranked No. 6 by AP.

In 2006, his Louisville offensive line paved the way for the Cardinals offense, ranking second nationally (475.3), seventh in passing (290.0) and 12th in rushing (185.3). Three of his linemen (Renardo Foster, Kurt Quarterman and George Bussey) were All-Big East first-team picks. The 2004 line helped the Louisville offense set school records with 6,468 total yards, 3,005 rushing yards, 597 points and 47 rushing TDs. The Cardinals led the nation in both total offense (539.0) and scoring offense (49.8).

Coach Klenakis is a great guy and a great recruiter and will remain on the staff as the tight end coach. I’m glad that he is staying with the team but there had to be a change made with how this season ended and I think that Mike Summers is a good hire. He already has chemistry with Coach Petrino and has a proven pedigree. Welcome back to the Card Nation Coach Summers…

Twas The Night Before the Heisman

As Louisville Football fans we have seen the program soar to prominence over the years. This can be attributed to great administration, great coaches and great players. I remember watching Teddy Bridgewater and saying to myself that it would be a long time before we had a program changing player like that again. I feel like Teddy bridged the gap to help Louisville be a legitimate contender in the college football world. When Teddy was winning a Big East Title with one arm and on one leg to give the Cardinals a berth to the BCS and then shredded the Florida defense to win the Sugar Bowl he was creating a winning legacy that would live on even after he was gone.

Now here we are three years after Teddy Bridgewater threw his last touchdown pass in a Cardinal uniform getting ready to watch the Louisville Football program win it’s very first Heisman Trophy. Lamar Jackson has said Bridgewater is a reason he ended up looking at the Louisville program. While I was thinking to myself years ago, that we wouldn’t see another player like this in a long time little did I know that the next man up was just a few years away from taking over that role. Where Teddy bridged that gap Lamar Jackson has helped the program take a giant leap on to the College Football stage.

Behind the raw athleticism, electrifying play-making and his will to win Lamar Jackson had Louisville in the national conversation and playoff picture for most of the season. Now for those efforts he has himself in a position to win the biggest individual prize in college football. He has been on a whirlwind tour over the last couple of days picking up different hardware along the way but nothing will be as sweet as hoisting that 20-pound bronze statue on Saturday night. The excitement level has reached an all-time high as Cardinal fans show their support by bathing their homes and businesses in Red light for the QB sensation. We all know what this means and how important it is. Especially for that winning legacy to continue.

I had a fan share this great little poem over on the Fan Page and I think it sums up well how excited we all are.
Thanks for sharing Susan.

Twas the night before Heisman and all through the street,
the houses lit red for the man with the feet.

The Cardinal player who can do it all
Now waits in New York for his name to be called!

Fans wearing RED to support number 8,
Lamar is a player with humble, great fate!

So raise up your L’s and keep the faith PROUD
With hope that the Heisman will land with “our” CROWD!

#L1C4LIT – Susan Blake Turner

College Football Playoff was Not In the Cards

Just a few weeks ago we were buzzing about the Cardinal’s Playoff chances and counting down the hours until the Playoff Rankings show came on. Louisville climbed to that 5th spot and it became a real possibility that they could still do this. The excitement reached another level. For the first time in program history the Cardinals had a College Football Playoff shot and a Heisman front runner. The hype swirling around the Louisville program was astounding. There was extra coverage on ESPN, extra coverage from national print media, and social media back-and-forth between players, fans and media. It’s the kind of exposure that every major program wants to achieve. The run that the Louisville football team had during the regular season was special. But the kind of pressure that comes along with that will make a great team shine or expose leaks in the foundation.

Unfortunately we had leaks in the foundation…

This weekend I sent out a tweet that I thought the players had let the hype ruin their season. After having a few days to process it all I still think it played a part. The extra posing, the extra gestures… a lot of stuff we weren’t seeing from these guys when the season started. I really do believe that these guys started reading their headlines. Somewhere in all of that complacency set in. When this team played hungry and with something to prove it masked their inability to play clean football. When they got complacent they weren’t able to overcome all of those turnovers, penalties and mistakes. This Louisville Football team is really good. They have explosive playmakers on both the defensive and offensive side of the football field with talent everywhere. But they have turned the ball over 31 times and had 93 penalties along the way. The Cardinals had 19 penalties and 7 turnovers over the last two games.

The offensive line accounted for many of those penalties and allowed 39 sacks this season. When the national spotlight was on them at Houston they gave up 11 sacks. This group was out-manned for most of the season as they faced some very good defensive units. Physical struggles turn into mental struggles resulting in a complete breakdown. There was some improvement this season but this unit still needs a major upgrade to compete for a national title.

Lamar Jackson is such a fierce competitor that sometimes he tries to do too much. Over the last couple of weeks this has become more apparent. Trying to make the play himself while not making the right read, diving for the extra yard while not protecting the ball and throwing into tight coverage all trying to make something happen for his team. This young man is an incredible athlete, but is still very raw. I’m reminded of the story about the old bull and the young bull standing on top of the hill. Lamar is going to learn that if he walks down the hill he can be more effective sometimes. Lamar Jackson will mature a lot as a result of this season. He is going to take that Heisman honor as a personal challenge to live up to what that standard is. It will help him be a more complete player next season. Yes we have him again next season…

The Louisville defense was just good enough but good enough didn’t cut it in the 3 losses. I think some of this responsibility falls on the players and some of it does fall on the coaches. The Louisville staff was out coached at Houston and against Kentucky in my opinion. It’s up to the coaches to have the players in the right spot so they can make the play. That didn’t happen at times. We have seen more big plays on this defense in the last two weeks than we’ve seen in two seasons. I think the defense got complacent and lost some of their intensity. They gave up 943 yards in the last two games and the defensive line only had 1 sack and 9 tackles for loss over the last two weeks. This group can say they had a pretty good regular season but sometimes just being good isn’t good enough.

I cover these guys from summer workouts, thru spring football and into the season. I know nobody in that lockerroom took failure lightly. They are going to get back to work and be ready for the Bowl game in a few weeks and will finish strong. Losing the playoff hopes and the Governor’s Cup over the last two weeks was rough. Putting it into perspective just being in the playoff picture was great for the program and we had held that Cup for 5 years. The program will also have its first ever Heisman Trophy winner. Did I mention that Heisman Trophy winner will be back next season?

Next year we will be back in that playoff picture and we will take that Cup back. Go Cards!

No Hurricane Lamar, but a Hurricane Evacutaion on a Bye-Week

The loss to Clemson this past Saturday left a bitter taste in the mouths of Louisville fans. And thanks to a bye week one that will linger for awhile. Thanks to a trip to Disney World that begin last Sunday and a Hurricane evacuation this week I was able to avoid those feelings of disappointment. But now that I’m safe at home and looking through the stories I missed this week. I can’t help but feel for our guys. This group has worked hard and has paid their dues. They deserved a big win like that.

But just because you deserve something doesn’t mean it will be handed to you. And there was no way that Clemson was going to give the Cardinals anything. One of the Clemson players didn’t even want to give Lamar Jackson’s head back to him after a tackle. I digress but do want to give credit to Clemson for winning their big game. They had some guys step up. They have a great team and a great coach.

I had mentioned in my pre-game and it wasn’t a big revelation that Clemson would ride that big wave of emotion that comes with a Saturday night Primetime game in Death Valley. That place was electrifying. And their guys were amped up. This really stood out in the trenches.

The Cardinals O-Line and D-Line struggled getting beat both physically and mentally. The O-Line allowed a QB as elusive as Jackson to get sacked 5 times. And the penalties were staggering. Especially with them trying to overcome the emotion in that place. The D-Line struggled to contain Watson and allowed him and Gallman to play well above their rushing averages.

The mistakes weren’t limited to that part of the game but it did set the tone for the night. Being under pressure all night Lamar struggled to really get things going missing some throws and missing his reads. And the Louisville DB’s had their hands full with Watson getting time to deliver to his receivers. The absence of Shaq Wiggins didn’t help either.

I expected big time performances from Josh Harvey Clemons and Devonte Fields. The reason these guys came to Louisville for their second chances were for games like this. Harvey Clemons got his 11 tackles, but Fields was nonexistent with just two tackles. I think the defense really missed his presence. He can really set the tone when he’s getting to the QB.

Lamar missed some opportunities with Staples and I really thought that this would be a big night for this duo. Really thought Staples would have a huge outing. He like the guys I mentioned above came to Louisville for big games. Hope he can get it going soon. He’s got a lot of big play potential and the offense is going to need him.

The Cardinal’s lost the game but not all was lost. We got to see the Heisman Run of Lamar Jackson solidified. Clemson slowed him down but they couldn’t stop him. We got to see the coming of age of one of the best tight ends in College Football. Cole Hikutini fought through extra contact, holding and tripping for 7 catches and 84 yards. He is going to be fun to watch during the home stretch. We also got to see the emergence of guys like Jaire Alexander and Zykiesis Cannon who really made some great plays to help change momentum at times.

And finally we got to see this Louisville team take a big punch in the gut and fight to come back. They gave themselves a chance to win this game and even in defeat showed the 3rd largest TV crowd to ever watch a Saturday night football game that they do belong in the discussion this season.

It was a crushing loss and that game could have big implications on the rest of the Louisville Football season. Emotions tend to get the best of us sometimes but I was extremely disappointed to see some fans on social media bashing James Quick after the game. Without his play we wouldn’t have had a shot to win that game. No chance.

It’s all about perspective anyway isn’t it? As I mentioned above my family had to evacuate from our fall vacation due to a deadly hurricane coming across the southeast. This storm will cause all kinds of damage and loss of life. I’m so thankful we made it home safely and happy to be at home watching the storm from my TV instead of in person.

If you got so upset about a loss that you lashed out at a student athlete then you need some perspective. There were many mistakes Saturday night. But those mistakes will be corrected and nobody wanted it more than the players who have laid it all on the line.

The bye week is hard on the fans especially after a loss. It’s good for the team. Time to heal up and the extra practice time will give the Cardinals a chance to get back to work to correct things. Duke has a very good team and it should be a competitive game. Like most of you I Can’t wait! Go Cards!

Prayers to all of the folks in the path of Hurricane Matthew. Stay safe folks!