First the Tide, Then a Tropical Storm first two weeks of Louisville Football have been a wash



First the Tide, Then a Tropical Storm the first two weeks of Louisville Football have been a wash.

We had such a build-up to the start of the Louisville Football season. So much build-up that the head coach was predicting a victory against college footballs best team. The players seemed confident and even started the game in Orlando with a little swagger in their step.

They were playing some good football. Puma looked poised, the Oline blocked, the running backs were running downhill, TE’s looked good, WR’s running crisp routes and even the defense made some good plays. Things seemed to be going as expected for about a quarter then the wheels started to fall off. So much so that the coaches were having gaffs.

After that game, I was able to put things into some perspective taking into account that they did play the first game of the season against the Tide. We did some things well, and it was a game to build on. Our young guys got hit in the jaw and didn’t respond well.

Heading into the Indiana State game I expected the monsoon rains and knew it would be a student body left, student body right kind of night. Not very entertaining but expected a solid win. I did not expect the breakdowns on offense, and I sure didn’t expect to see the Indiana State O-Line housing our D-Line at times. Knocking them off the ball.

I expected inconsistency with yet another new coaching change but come on… how are you controlling the line of scrimmage on downs against the likes of Alabama one week and losing that battle to an FCS school the next week. Doesn’t add up. Or does it all add up?

Did opening up the season against such a dominating opponent backfire? Did some of these young guys have that confidence tested too early? Did they completely put the last one behind them when heading into the game week with Indiana State? Did the torrential downpours affect the offense that much? To look that bad? Was the Louisville defensive front that beat up and did the weather affect their gameplay?

I’m willing to call it a wash.

That’s right… these last two weeks have been a blur. Louisville fans drove 13 hours to watch the season opener and then had to set thru a monsoon for the home opener. The expansion did not get the appreciation it deserved and we didn’t even get a Card March.

I don’t imagine that these first two weeks have been great for the players either. They did get knocked down to size pretty good in that first game. Confidence was shaken. Then they don’t get a Card March and have to sludge thru a monsoon all night against an FCS school in the home opener. Not much fun at all. They did enough to get the job done and did have some pep in their step to end a miserable night.

I’m excited about this weekend. I liked what I saw out of Malik Cunningham Saturday night. If you paid attention at the Spring Game you know his game is very Lamar’esque. Bobby will now have a few more options. And this could give Puma a little nudge. He has to be the leader of this team Tide or monsoon be damned… It’s good to know that there is someone ready to step up if he doesn’t. Don’t think we have a QB controversy yet. I like what Jeremy Smith brings to this team. He hasn’t missed a step.

Our defense is beaten up. The best player Jonathan Greenard is out indefinitely after injuring his wrist against Bama, and Dorian Etheridge suffered an ankle sprain against Indiana State. A lot of tackles here.

I’m beginning to worry that issues go much deeper than a few injuries on this side of the ball. Charlie Strong built a defensive culture so strong that it lasted up to Grantham’s last season. He was able to use Strong’s mojo for a few seasons. I’m worried about the current culture. Too much turnover and not enough consistency has left a big hole. Coach VanGorder is getting paid handsomely and he has some athletes so I’m not giving up hope yet.

This could be a week for guys to gain some confidence and more experience. Like Jarrett Jackson. This dude wears #8 and his last name is Jackson. He was No. 56 on ESPN’s Top 300 defensive linemen list and one of the top high school defensive lineman in Florida a season ago. Jackson has 7 assisted tackles this season. Guys like Amonte Caban and Tabarius Peterson. They both were trending upward at the end of last season.

Michael Boykin and Derek Dorsey could use another game before heading into the conference grind. Boykin is still adjusting to the speed of things. He was dominating in Juco last year. Dorsey has a mean streak about him but needs to be in right spot. GG Robinson has to step up and lead with Greenard out. GG can be a beast and has 7 solo tackles in the first two weeks. This defense is wet behind the ears and not from the rain last week.

I know that a hurricane is barreling up the east coast. But weather should not be an issue this Saturday night when the Cardinals play WKU. It should be an awesome night for a football game. I expect the tailgating lots to be packed early, I expect a great Card March, I expect the place to be packed, and I expect the expansion to get the crowd it deserves. I hope Louisville plays better and shows some promise. We will know a lot more about this team after Saturday night. Even though these last two weeks have been a wash I still have hope the season won’t be.

Go Cards!

GAMEDAY


GAMEDAY!

Another game today where I don’t think we learn much about the Louisville Football team especially if we get the monsoon the weather folks suggest. It will be a great game for all of the Coaches to work on getting their calls in and Gametime reps. It’s a great opportunity for the Louisville defense to gel more and to get more game ready with Coach VanGorder.

I think we see a steady flow of Running Backs tonight for the Cardinals but hopefully will stay dry long enough to see Jawon get a chance to work on some game rhythm with his wide receivers. Special teams should get some in-game action tonight. Should be a lot of Kickoff coverage practice (much needed), and field goal/extra point work. Hope we don’t see any punt work. (sorry Mason)

This game will be good for the players and should juice them back up some after being demoralized by Alabama. Football is very physical but can also be mentally exhausting. The young guys were very overwhelmed last weekend. Today is another chance for them to learn and gain some much needed confidence.

It’s going to be awesome to see these guys run out of that tunnel for the very first time of that beautiful new expansion. Should be a feel-good night all around and Cardinal Football needs it. L’s Up!

Go Cards!

The Cardinals pay a Toll in opener with Bama



It wasn’t the ending that Louisville and Cardinal fans had hoped for but a lot of young guys got action last night and there were some things that this team can build on moving forward. They played possibly the best team in the country and maybe one of the best programs in the history of college football. In Florida, they are big on their toll roads. Not all but a lot of things that happened last night was the toll a team pays when playing the Tide. You find things you can build on from this one and move on. Coach Petrino said in the post-game: “it’s only failure if you don’t learn from it.”


I like Pass and think that he is going to be a good one. He looked poised in the first quarter especially considering it was his first start in College Football and especially since he was playing the best College Football team on a pretty big stage. His throws were efficient in those first few sequences and he made the right choice with the football. He made some crafty moves in the pocket and was able to advance the football getting some first downs. This guy is still a ball of clay and there is still some molding to do. Jawon said after the game “ I just tried not to give up.” This kid won’t give up. We can’t give up on him.


When I get back to my old Kentucky home I will have to gather all of those aggravating toll slips and pay the tolls from Florida. When our Cardinals get home they’ll have to pay a different toll. I don’t imagine practice will be much fun after the film work. I won’t mention any names or call anyone out specifically but not helping our QB off the ground after a sack, missing blocking assignments, missing route assignments and some general apathy happened last night. You gonna talk a big game you better be ready to play one. But. Get your guts ran out and do better in the next one.


I think the general message I’d have for Cardinals fans would be to look forward to the next one and the season ahead. Our Cardinals hung with the best in the country for almost a quarter of football. The O-line blocked, the defense played aggressive and smart, our Redshirt Sophomore QB looked good in the pocket and the offense was moving the ball down the field. A lot to build on here folks. And just think about how exciting the new stadium will be. If you are giving up on this young and talented Louisville group after an ass whipping by Bama you are cheering for the wrong sport. They are the standard. Get over it. See you all at the beautiful Cardinal Stadium next weekend.


On a side note, it was great seeing #8 in the building last night. That guy really bought in here. He was a Louisville football player but will always be a Cardinal at heart. Luv you #8!

We lost but I’m still going to Disney World. L’s Up!

bbblbbbr

 

The Beak Football Media Day Wrap-Up


Media Day is a signal that our sports dry spell is almost over Cardinal Fans. Another exciting Louisville Football season is now only weeks away. It’s always great to hear from Coach Petrino, his staff, and the players during this time of the year. Especially since the end of last season left most of us with more questions than answers. Talking with these guys on Saturday morning I felt the anticipation and excitement from them to get to Orlando and open up the season. Everyone seems very optimistic but did not undersell the hard work they still had ahead of them to get ready.


Raise your hand if you thought that the Cardinal’s offense became too one-dimensional at the end of last season. I loved Lamar Jackson just as much as the next guy. And when he tucked and ran for an 80-yard score I was in awe of the talent and speed. But I feel like the offense as a whole kinda revolved around that. I wouldn’t ever say that the offense will be better without Lamar. That’s crazy talk. You don’t lose a weapon like that and get better. I do think the offense this season will be more dynamic. Meaning I think that the process of getting that production from the team as a whole will pay off. This team is full of new energy and positive attitudes. Guys are just waiting for their shot.


Coach Galloway’s track record of recruiting and producing NFL talent at the wide receiver position is well-known. He is still working with enough speed and talent this year that the Cardinals could quickly develop into one of the nation’s most versatile offenses. He talked very confidently on Saturday morning about his guys moving forward.


With the help of Coach Mike Summers, the 2006 Cardinals were ranked 2nd in the nation in total offense. Coach Summers has a great football mind and knows that it all starts with fundamentals. In listening to him yesterday It seems that he will use that philosophy to bring even more improvement to his group this season. I think he will have those guys ready to be more physical and playing harder. He enters this season with one of the best groups Louisville has had up front. With guys like Becton, McNeil, Bentley, Thomas, and Foy there should be some big holes to run thru. Coach Summers talked on Saturday morning about how he liked the progression his guys were making. Even with all of the exciting players on the depth chart, I’m most excited about the O Line. Games are won and lost in the trenches.


The Louisville Defense also has a lot of speed and talent. A lot of that talent is young and unproven and some guys in this unit will be working with their 3rd coach in four years. I talked with Coach VanGorder on Saturday morning about his transition into the locker room. He seems like a very old school no-nonsense kind of guy. He seems confident that the turnover at his spot can be negated by sticking to his and the teams’ core principles and if you ask some of his guys they seem to be buying in. As hopeful and optimistic as I am about the defense this remains the biggest question mark of the season for sure.


I expect that we will see Goldwire, Peterson, Robinson, and Boykin along the Defensive line this season but I’m most excited about Jon Greenard. He is a big-time pass rusher who has 9.5 career sacks and was one of the top pass rushers in the nation in 2017. With added bulk to allow him to play with his hand in the ground, I expect him to be more dangerous and versatile this season.


Another guy I’m excited to see at the linebacker spot is Dorian Etheridge. One of the top defensive players in West Virginia coming out of high school he said he was impressed with Louisville’s “Light Up the Ville Camp”. With this guy holding down that LB spot I hope he can help this young Louisville D stop opposing offenses from ”Lighting up the Ville”.


The Louisville Wide Receiver corps will be one of the best units in college football this season. Guys like Jaylen Smith, Dez Fitzpatrick, and Seth Dawkins are expected to lead the way. These are some very talented guys and they are also a very confident group. I don’t think you’ll see them be intimidated when the Cardinals play Bama in a few weeks. In fact, I think they are all looking forward to the challenge. I really like our wide receivers.


As far as the Louisville running game is concerned I think it has been pretty much by committee during off-season work-outs but the guy who is standing out is Trey Smith. Smith is a hungry kid who has waited for his time to shine. I think he’s got 2018 in mind for that to happen.

bbblbbbr


I’m tired of talking about football and I’m ready to start watching some. Only two more Saturdays without football Cardinal fans…

Cards Kick-off year number 5 at ACC Media Days


Wednesday marks the unofficial start of the college football season for us here in ACC country. It’s a lean time of the year for college sports but conference media days is a thirst quenching event for all avid fans. Coach Petrino will have WR Jaylen Smith and LB Jonathan Greenard with him at the 2018 ACC Football Kickoff, July 18-19, at The Westin Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina. Two great players that will certainly play a major role in the Cardinals success in year five of the conference.

Coach Petrino and the Cardinals are 21-11 heading into year five of ACC play. There will be a few more questions heading into this season than in seasons past. Who will step up and fill the roles left by guys like Reggie and Lamar? How will life without Lamar look? You don’t replace that. And who is ready to step up and bring the pop for Coach VanGorder on defense. I expect these to be a few of the many asked over the next three days.

Senior Wide Receiver Jaylen Smith will be one of eleven student-athletes at ACC media days who were chosen first-, second- or third-team All-ACC in 2017. He will also be one of 7 returning starters on the offensive side of the football for the Cardinals. He had 980 yards with 7 touchdowns and became a highlight reel catching some long passes from Lamar Jackson. He averaged over 16 yards a catch in 2017. Jaylen will highlight a very talented Louisville receiving corps. He is sure to be a big target for the Puma this season.

The Louisville defense lost seven players. A lot of tackles and a whole lot of heart graduated last year. One of five returning starters on defense and next man up is Jonathan Greenard. Greenard led the team with 15.5 tackles for loss and tied for team honors with 7.0 sacks in 2017. He finished 32nd nationally in tackles for loss and 47th in sacks… James Hearns was nasty at that linebacker spot. He will be missed. But Geenard could help fill some of that void.

Seven of the returning starters on the offensive side of the ball is on the offensive line. Big, athletic and quick on their feet this will be our best group up front in a long time. Coach Summers has those guys ready to win those battles in the trenches. That and a young hungry and talented group of defensive players has me optimistic about year five in the ACC. The first four years of this great conference has been a blast. I’ve been on many cool adventures and watched a helluva lot of good football. I’m looking forward to another season of that.

You can watch all the happenings at ACC media days on the ACC KICKOFF PAGE. The Coastal Side of the conference will be at the podium on Wednesday. The Atlantic side will get the spotlight on Thursday. Coach Petrino and the guys are up from 11:30 am till noon on Thursday.

Go Cards!

It’s Howling Time… Kentucky Derby 144


Derby Week is the one time during the sports cycle that I feel completely out of place. This is the week that the Universty of Louisville and those who cover it go to the horses. The UofL band will play my Old Kentucky Home at the Derby for the 82nd time today, New Mens Basketball Coach Chris Mack called ”Riders Up” at Oaks and you’ll catch a glance at Cardinal Stadium as the horses come down the stretch.

The who’s who of Louisville Sports folks have spent all week on the backside at Churchill Downs covering the 4 legged athletes. Usually, I’d have an urge to be right in the mix but not this week. I don’t know anything about horse racing. Nothing! But I do enjoy watching and betting on the yearly event. And every year that leads me on a hunt for any advice I can get before my wager.

About 7 or 8 years ago that hunt landed me on Justin TV. Anyone remember that streaming site? I stumbled upon a guy who calls himself the Howling Wolf. He had an interactive horse racing show on Justin TV. There was always a room full of folks watching him pick winners and letting out a big Howl after doing so. Trust me folks this guy picks winners.

I have hit several pick 4’s over the years and cashed more than a few tickets with the Howling Wolf. I recently found my old friend again on Facebook. Feeling like the only Louisville Blogger that isn’t somehow connected to this week I asked the Howling Wolf if he’d write something for the Big Race. He was nice enough to share his Derby Picks with us.

KENTUCKY DERBY SELECTIONS:

TOP SELECTION :
#12 ENTICED 30/1- GOT BUMPED TWICE IN THE WOOD MEMORIAL BY VINO ROSSO. WILL BE STALKING THE PACE EARLY AND SHOULD START MOVING UP CLOSER TO THE PACE IN HALF WAY INTO THE RACE AND GIVE HIS BEST KICK DOWN THE STRETCH.
THE JOCKEY ALAVARADO STAYS ABOARD

2ND CHOICE :
#5 AUDIBLE- HAS FACE AND BEATEN SOME OF THE HORSES IN THE FIELD. GETTING CASTELLANO BACK ABOARD AND WITH HIM ABOARD HAS WON BY ALMOSE 16 LENGHTS ABOARD. LIKES TO STALK CLOSE TO PACE AND GETS TIRED LATE FROM THAT. ILL LIKE TO SEE HIM STALKING BUT NOT TOO CLOSE TO SEE HIM GIVE A BETTER LATE MOVE.

3RD CHOICE:

#16 MAGNUM MOON 6/1- IS 4 FOR 4 TRYING FOR THE 5 STRAIGHT TO STAY UNDEFEATED. WILL LIKE THE STRETCH OUT IN DISTANCE. SO GREAT WORKOUTS THE LAST ONE WAS 47.70 BREZING AT THE CHURCHILL DOWNS TRACK ON APRIL 29TH.

GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE!

There you go, folks! The Cardinals Beak finally gave you some Derby love. I really appreciate the Howling Wolf for his Derby Picks. If you are looking for a cheat sheet for the rest of the Derby Day slate please consider giving my friend a look. I hope you are Howling when the winners cross the finish line today. Good Luck!

Here’s the link to Howling Wolfs site:

HOWLING WOLF’S HORSE RACING PICKS

HAPPY DERBY DAY!

Coach Mack finally gets his man


It’s no surprise that we have had our problems recruiting, and securing transfers. And can’t you blame the kids? Louisville has not been in the best light as of late. But the ship is headed in the right direction. With the pickup of graduate transfer Christen Cunningham from Samford, it is a huge boost to our program.

Cunningham missed a majority of last season due to an illness but was cleared to play another season. The former Henry Clay star is returning home. The last time he was here he put up 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists on our Cards at The Yum last season.

Cunningham is a true guard and with the loss of Q this will pay out huge. He will be a huge experience boost on the court and at the guard position. He is an assist monster, so with some of the shooters that I think will step up this year including McMahon I think it will blend well.

Cunningham is a huge boost for our program for what he brings to the court, but also to the program as a whole as we are rebounding from a rough spot in recruiting.

Welcome to the Ville Christen!!!
L’s UP!

Maxwell Bird
#L1C4

Photos & Post Game Thoughts Spring Game 2018



Pass’ Pass

Pass played well overall. I feel currently he is our guy. He had some turnovers that bother me but are fixable. He struck me as his nerves had a little bit of him. Hopefully this will get worked out. With him being a non-contact target, we didn’t get to see much oh him running minus a few scrambles to the Line of scrimmage. He is physically larger which makes me much more comfortable at the quarterback position, especially for a mobile QB. And I won’t get tired of hearing Pass’ pass no matter how annoying it is over and over ha-ha

Malik…. Malik Cunningham was the biggest surprise for me of the spring game. Malik played excellent. He ran the ball great and was almost dead on his passes. My eyes will be on him 10x more!

Dez Fitzpatrick – What else can you say but SPECTACULAR. He had some great catches, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a #1 target for Pass.

Kemari Averett…. HUGE. He stood out to me. It may have been his 6’6″ 265lbs stature… or the 5 catches for 37 yards… that doesn’t sound like much but after a season where a 6-yard pass seemed difficult at times this is huge for me.

I’m happy with defense. White team had a pick and a fumble recovery. Hopefully it carries over into takeaways into the season.

Was great to see so many former Cards players at the half time awards ceremony. Between Deion Branch signing his name and taking pictures along the sideline (took him 30 minutes to get 50 yards to leave) to Jaire Alexander coming into the stands forever to sign autographs and take pictures. A line formed in the stands on the home side and he happily seen all that he could…They showed the truth in #L1C4

And the new catch phrase….

PASS’ PASS…

Maxwell Bird
#L1C4

bbblbbbr

“It’s your time” A Spring Game Preview



“It’s your time.” The phone call that Jawon Pass received from Coach Petrino just a few months ago when Lamar Jackson decided to take his game to the NFL. The end of another great quarterback era in Louisville… The end of our first Heisman Trophy winner’s reign… The end to one of the most entertaining college athletes to ever spin across the gridiron. The man who gave us some of the most memorable wins in our program’s history. But all great things must come to an end, and instead of being sad or hopeless we should be excited to see what the future holds.

Our future is bright at Louisville, from a great player stepping up at quarterback that has now had years of experience under a Heisman winning quarterback, too upperclassmen in key positions at receiver, linebacker, and safety. So what do we expect to see at the Spring Game on Saturday?

First off, I was lucky enough to watch Jawon play in high school at Carver in Georgia when Louisville played Auburn in Atlanta in 2015. The Man was amazing to watch as a high school player. He brought a spark to the field that reminds me of Lamar. I am extremely excited to see him take a team that is 100% his now and see what he is capable of early on before the season starts. He is a playmaker that is more than capable of making plays in the air or on the ground. He may not be as fast as Lamar, but running a 4.5 40 yard dash I think he is more than capable on the ground. He can air it out and punish a secondary in the blink of an eye. Jawon will be an amazing player to watch develop in the offseason and through the season, and I’m happy to say I think he will make a great impact on our team.

Another key area to watch is our Receiver stable. Senior Jaylen Smith, Redshirt sophomore Dez Fitzpatrick, and sophomore Josh Johnson are a talented core of receivers that are expected to be at the top of the depth chart as of now. Jaylen Smith is a proven player that has put up nearly 1000 yards (980) and 60 catches in 10 games last year. Smith missed the first practice of the season to an undisclosed injury but we are hoping to see him lead the receiver core Saturday as one of the only expected seniors on offense expected to start as of now.

At tight end, we are used to hearing the name Crum a 5th-year senior, but we may need to get used to hearing Kemari Averett much more. Averett a Sophmore is expected to be the starting tight end on paper, but expect to see Crum have plenty of playing time as with Jordan Davis. Switching up tight ends have become a major part of the offense in today’s football, and with the mindset of Coach P, the options are endless.

At running back with the loss of seniors Reggie Bonnafon, Jeremy Smith, and Malik Williams expect to see Dae Williams, R-Sophmore, Colin Wilson, Sophmore, and Trey Smith, R-Junior all take handoffs from Pass in the spring game. Much in the running back is up in the air as of now, but expect by the time we step on the field with Alabama it to be figured out.

Stacy Thomas is a major loss for us at Linebacker, but I expect to see 5th year senior Isaac Stewart (OLB), Freshman Robert Hicks (MLB), and sophomore Dorian Etheridge(OLB) step up. Having Stewart as a 5th year senior on the field behind the d line is a great contribution and should pay off well with the other young linebackers.

To be completely honest, Cornerback is where I’m the most fearful with our team. We are extremely thin at CB and with little to go off of, the spring game will be a big stage to see how the positions are covered. Expect redshirt sophomore Rodjay Burns, and redshirt sophomore P.J. Mbanasor to lead the depth chart for us in CB. As I said, this is a major area to keep eyes on Saturday.

Senior Dee Smith and sophomore C.J. Avery head up our safety positions. Smith had an excellent season last year, and an amazing bowl game. We have recruited well for the safety position so it is a possibility to see Blue, Character and Trenell Troutman. Marion Character was a huge ju-co pickup for us so I expect to see great things from him. When TreSean Smith returns from offseason knee surgery he could take the Starting spot from Avery as well, but time will tell.

As far as special teams go, we return all kickers from a good lineup last year. As far as returners, your guess is as good as mine. It is very likely to see multiple players plugged into returning positions so another thing to keep an eye on.

All in all the game Friday should be a great game, and a much-needed dose of football we all crave as Louisville fans. There are some positions that could come to light and make things much more clear after Friday. I hope to see all players play excellent and to see some youth step up.

As always #L1C4 and #gocards

Maxwell Bird

When the NCAA gives you lemons you turn them into some Red lemonade.



After a tumultuous season of ups and downs, a heartbreaking loss on Senior Day and missing the Tournament on selection Sunday Louisville basketball had hit its lowest point. Then something happened in that first game of the NIT.

Fans showed these players that their love for the Louisville program means more than an NCAA bid. They showed that the passion for Louisville basketball extends well beyond wins and losses. Somewhere in the second half of that first NIT game, the current team got that message and responded.

Over the past week, the players were reminded that sometimes it’s not about wins or losses but how you play the game. And somewhere in all of this, the players started to have fun again. They’re enjoying playing the game that they love with their teammates.

When you’ve hit rock bottom there’s only one way to go. And the Louisville Basketball program has shown the college basketball world that we aren’t going away. The NCAA gave us lemons and we packed the Yum Center with thousands of screaming fans for the NIT. Our team has turned them lemons into a big old glass of Red lemonade and are a few games from winning the whole damn thing.

There is still meat on the bone and the Cardinals will face a Mississippi State team that is drinking some of their own lemonade. They took out the top seed Baylor on Sunday and will come into the Yum Center riding a lot of momentum.

The Cardinals are outscoring teams by 12 points and allowing just 40.2 percent shooting at home this season. Mississippi State is being outscored by nearly six points and scoring under 70 points on the road this season. They are a very efficient offensive team but if the Cardinals play defense like they have been it will be another great evening for the home team.

We have a chance at a redo. It’s going to be the last time we see all of this current team together playing on the Yum Center court. Hopefully, this final farewell will have a better ending. One game away from NYC.

#WinTheWholeDamnThing

official Stats and UofL Gameday Breakdown:

Go Cards!