30 days away
Card fans have been waiting for September 1st, 2018 after it was announced a while back that their opening game in 2018 would be perennial powerhouse BAMA. The defending champs will meet Louisville in Orlando, Florida in what is set for a prime time game kicking off at 8pm. I vowed never to step foot in Orlando again after the summer of 2006 ( I don’t want to talk about it) so unfortunately the BHK won’t be making the trip down south for this one.
But, as I did last year I am going to provide 30 burning questions and 30 burning answers that you may or may not have been asking yourself. One question and answer for each day that we have left to wait for the pigskin to fly and the tailgates to commence.
Before we get started, let me say that these are strictly my thoughts and I am taking a friggin’ shot in the dark like most of you. I am not going to pretend I know what the hell I am talking about and I am sure one of you are already chomping at the bit to “well actually” me. So that is why I include this disclaimer, cover your a** folks. It pays in the long run.
Lets’s get started:
30. Will Puma Pass live up to the hype?
I have always had a gut feeling that Puma was going to be the next best QB in a line of of great QB’s that have played here at UofL. I have seen nothing that has told me otherwise…….literally I have seen nothing. Puma has only played in a handful of games and been super productive while in. We all know Bobby loves the big, pocket passer QB type so we have all been licking our chops for the past 3 years waiting. He has been in the system for 3 years and had been in the weight program the same. He has this quiet demeanor about him like “yeah I know you know I am a beast”. Only thing left to do is play. Unfortunately Puma, you are replacing the greatest Louisville Cardinal of all time in Lamar Jackson. No pressure…….
29. Who has the most to prove on defense?
Three people do honestly. Number one of course is new Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder. He has to prove that he still is capable of producing a high powered, nasty defense. He has bounced around a ton and got canned at Notre Dame. VanGorder was a analyst before he got called to Louisville. I watched a few of his games on YouTube while he was at Notre Dame and he brought pressure at times, he just didn’t send a blitz every time like 3rd and Grantham used to. That, coupled with the fact his defense knew how to line up, gang tackle and wrap up the ball carrier pleases me already. Last’s years defensive coordinator Peter Subtraction coached half the season without his headset being plugged in.
Number two is Amonte Caban. He has been in the program a few seasons and I really thought he would be a huge difference maker by now. Then again, I am sure Amonte didn’t plan on playing for his 3rd defensive coordinator either. Hopefully this is the year it all comes together for Amonte.
And lastly, I think Henry Famurewa has been patiently waiting to make his presence felt. Again, this all hinges on VanGorder and how he uses his defense next season.
28. Will the stadium sell out for the Indiana State and WKU?
Both are Saturday night games slated for 7pm kickoffs. Both give fans a chance to see the newly expanded stadium. Both games give fans ample time to tailgate and drink responsibly. If the weather does it’s job I think we get the lower bowl full and the newly expanded section full as well. The UPS flight deck will remain empty and this shouldn’t come as a surprise. We all know those seats belong to people who haven’t figured out how to leave the party deck. I am going to stop while I am ahead…..
27. Who has the most to prove on offense?
Some people would obviously point directly at Puma being he is the full time starter at QB1. While I don’t disagree I am going to take it step further and say Mickey Crum. After a dynamic freshman season Mickey has dealt with the injury bug as well as inconsistency on offense. Now as a senior he is healthy and should be primed to see the field more. I hope the fans get to see Crum return to his freshman form where he was laying wood and catching TD’s.
26. What can we expect from 5th year Bobby?
I have no clue. No one really does. Bobby has not stayed with any program for longer than 4 years. So I guess we can let our imaginations run wild with this one. I’d like to think 5th year Bobby shows up the games shirtless wearing some Louisville basketball shorts and Adidas flip flops. He ditches the hat for a visor that he wears backwards and shoots a shot of bourbon each time we score. He also refers to himself in 4th person the entire season and during halftime interviews he gives a new reason on why Logan’s Steakhouse is trash. Take from this what you will.
25. How many games will it take for Sean Moth to butcher “Pass’s Pass”?
None, Moth does not mess up on the mic. Now Jesse Palmer on the other hand is a different story. That dude would mess up a free cornbread dinner if given the chance.
24. What rally animal will show up this year?
If you were fortunate enough to attend the Kent State game from last year then you are familiar with our buddy Rally Squirrel. The squirrel who ran on to the field and into our hearts last September reportedly passed away not long after being caught and released. Now this story has been disputed so if Rally Squirrel is in fact still alive he may return for an encore. Other possible animals are Rally Possum, however that school down the road already has claims on him since they play dead at home and get killed on the road often. Rally Pigeon could be one but not sure the facility crew at the stadium wants to clean poop up during the game. Rally Geese could be one, but if he normally resides on Linn Station road it’s only a matter of time before he brings 50-60 of his homeboys to camp out in the endzone.
23. Will the 3rd down music change?
Oh sweet Jesus I hope so. I am starting to believe that the sound crew at the stadium does it just to spite me. Imagine having the influence over thousands of fans on a crucial third down and your only option is the piano riff from Van Halen’s “Right Now”. WTF. I would rather hear Alex Jones mouth breathe. I would rather listen to the Kentucky Derby pre-show with that horrible crew at NBC. I would rather hear Owen Wilson say “wow” all day. I would rather hear Vin Diesel talk about family than to hear that song again this season. It really is not that hard to find a song that will have the fans pumped once it starts playing. For the love of Cardinal football, change it up. Hell, we use K-Dogg as an in house DJ, I am quite certain he could help.
22. Which redshirt or true freshman are you most excited to see?
I am really excited to see Justin Marshall this season. He was a big time wide receiver commit and I really thought it anyone was to see the field it would be him. Things didn’t work out that way and instead we saw Corey Reed take the lead and see early playing time. Marshall should see some time this season and we hope he makes an impact. I am also excited to see Tutu Atwell who’s name has been buzzing since he signed to play at UofL. With Traveon Samuel transferring after last season it looks as though Tutu will battle Josh Johnson, another dynamic slot receiver who saw early playing time as a freshman. Both are shifty and both can take a short pass to the house if given the chance. Other candidates are Hassan Hall, Trenell Troutman, and Malik Cunningham.
21. Will the Louisville Football intro video pump you up or put you to sleep?
See Question 23, that applies here as well. We have had some good intro videos but I think they nailed in in 2016 with the Ali intro video. I really would have kept that and just revamped it each year with different sound. I have no idea what the video was last year because that is how uninspiring it was.
20. What home game aside from Florida State or the Governor’s Cup are you most excited for?
I am actually excited for the Indiana State game. I love night games at the stadium and I think we are all excited to see the finished north end zone. Georgia Tech is high on the list as well. That is a Friday affair and the first meeting between both the Cards and the Yellowjackets. While I am not overly excited about facing the triple option, that game could be a good one. To round out things, its always good to play in-state opponents and WKU should be played in front of a sold out crowd.
19. How good can the offensive line be?
They improved drastically in 2017 and a lot of the sacks given up was due to Lamar holding the ball too long. Mekhi Becton was a huge piece as was Robbie Bell who took over at center. Cole Bentley will see his role increase as will Caleb Chandler. We all know that Mike Summers is the O-line whisperer so I expect even more productivity from this group. They only lost Geron Christian who was drafted in the 3rd round by the Redskins. Look for this group to be at the top of the ACC barring any crazy surprises or injuries.
18. Does Brian VanGorder have the toughest job this season?
Replacing 9 starters on defense is not going to be easy so I am going to say yes. We also have to consider L.D. Scott who is in charge of breaking in a new defensive line. I would venture to say the entire defensive side of the ball has a tough job ahead of them.
17. Can we expect the running game to improve this season?
That all hinges on two things. One, if the offensive line is a good as advertised. And two, if the running backs can stay healthy. Dae Williams and Colin Wilson both were expected to be dominant backs but both suffered knee injuries. While Dae was able to make his way back on the field and provide an impact, Colin was lost for the season. If both are healthy and Hassan Hall or Javian Hawkins can play as true freshman then I think the running game will be trending up. Right now there are too many questions that need to be answered.
16. What team worries me the most?
Georgia Tech. At times last year Louisville had trouble stopping the run even with a experienced defense. Now a lot of that was because of the defensive coordinator but I digress. Facing the triple option is never easy and it’s a grinding, boring game mostly. Louisville will need to play some disciplined football for 60 minutes and stay on their toes. Tech may not win a ton of games but very rarely do they get blown out.
15. How many slappies will we see per home game?
Ah yes, a tradition unlike any other. You can count on 3 things in life. Death, taxes, and UK fans showing up at Louisville home games wearing UK colors. It should come as no surprise that they are at all Louisville events, so much so a twitter page was created to mock them. The over under is set at 4 but here lately I have seen that increase. I will say 6 just to be on the safe side. I GUARAN-DAMN-TEE there will be a group of UK fans in Orlando cheering for Bama while wearing blue and white. Mark my words.
14. Who is QB 2??
I will give Malik Cunningham the slight edge here only because he has spent a year in the program already. But make no mistake, Jordan Travis is gonna be tough to keep on the bench for long. While everyone loves the dual threat QB I tend the think Travis, who is also a dual threat, can also pass the ball well. One thing is for sure, we will get to see Malik Cunningham if Louisville takes care of business against the lesser opponents on the schedule. Cunningham should win the back-up job.
13. What newcomer on offense will have a breakout year?
Tutu Atwell is my pick but that also depends on the guys who took a redshirt last season. Justin Marshall, Josh Johnson, and others could provide a boost to the offense this year.
12. What newcomer on defense will have a breakout year?
Mike Boykin has become an urban legend here and he hasn’t even suited up yet. Louisville fans have long awaited his arrival and finally after a stop in the JUCO’s he is here. Boykin looks like he has been in a weight program since kindergarten and with the right coaching I am sure he will eat and eat often while on the field. I am assuming he will see the field this season and hopefully can make his presence felt.
11. Will fans still call the stadium “The Oven”?
We all know the stadium underwent an emergency name change after some not so flattering words were dropped by the guy who it was named after. For the past 20 years it has been called the same name and adopted some great nicknames. I don’t expect the nickname to die out just yet but who knows. I wanted UPS to rename it so we could at least call it the Hot Brown. Yeah, I tweeted that a few weeks ago and folks laughed but when it happens you won’t be laughing then will ya….
10. How many marriages will end because of the Ladybirds?
Fellas, we did this last year and for some reason the divorce rate still went up. Part of that was because of Ryan McMahon but that is besides the point. So pay attention and follow these instructions. And before I get started, yes I have only been married for a solid eight weeks but ignore that and focus on what I am saying. At some point during the home games, the Lady Birds are going to waltz out there and do some dance moves that should be banned in 7 countries.
- Stare straight ahead or at your phone. Stare at the person’s head in front of you. Stare , then glance. Stare, then glance. Got it?
- Comment ONLY if the wife does and only if she is talking about the dance routine.
- Do NOT, make any sound other than a burp, yawn, or throat-clearing while the routine is being performed
- Clap only when its over and if the wife does.
I just saved your marriage, pay it forward.
9. Will Pass, Punt, and Kick have another winner soon?
I don’t know man. I have been campaigning for Frisbee dogs for years at the halftime show and still nothing. It has been a while since someone won a car. Maybe this is the year the streak will end.
8. Will Gameday make an appearance for the 3rd straight year?
Technically it would take both Louisville and Florida State to be undefeated for this to happen? That is really the only marquee game on the schedule with ton of story lines. Granted they could come for the Governor’s Cup but both the Cards and Cats will have to be undefeated and playing for a spot in the CFP for that to happen. . I seriously doubt they make a third straight trip but stranger things have happened.
7. How many times will the Courier Journal’s Jeff Greer be asked about channels and game times?
As many times as it takes damn it!!! Just because Jeff is our favorite writer over there doesn’t make him exempt from these questions. This is happening Jeff, gonna be long season bud.
6. Will cargo shorts finally get the respect they deserve?
Look, I have attempted to explain why cargo shorts are needed and yet I still have to keep answering these questions each football season. Yes, my shorts have 18 different compartments. But what you fail to realize is that I have my keys, wallet, gum, passport, first born, phone charger, jumper cables, poncho, and other stuff I will not name here. Cargo shorts are the Swiss army knife of shorts and if you choose to remain ignorant on this then that is your own damn fault.
5. Will the offense be better without Lamar?
I believe it will, mainly because when Lamar was here the offense was molded around his abilities. We had a once in a lifetime player on our team and the consensus was to place the ball in his hand as much as possible. Puma is a pocket passer, which leads me to believe that we return to the traditional balanced attack that Bobby is known for. I really believe that folks are underestimating this offense based on Lamar not being here. I think the offense will still put up points and I also think the wide receiving corps will have a big year.
4. Will the tackling improve?
I sure hope it will. I spent some time watching old games of VanGorder’s defense while he was at Notre Dame. It appears that there are normally 2-3 guys running to the ball and making a stop. It also appears that they wrap up well and there are no arm tackles by any of the defenders. Too many times last year opposing teams where able to break tackles or easily shed defenders. I think with a new defensive scheme and coordinator that will be corrected. I guess we will all find out as the season goes
3. Will PJ Mbanasor and Rodjay Burns be the corners we expect them to be?
I will say this, I feel more comfortable knowing that we have them both on the roster. I am not sure if they will play together or lock down one side of the field while Russ Yeast tend to the other side. Both were 4star recruits coming out of high school and both have played at the highest level already (Oklahoma and Ohio State) so once they get acclimated from sitting out a year I think they will be key pieces on this defense.
2. Who is the starting center?
Robbie Bell started all 13 games at center last season and played extremely well but I am thinking Mike Summers moves some pieces around this year and looks at different options. I am starting to think that Cole Bentley is the guy who snaps the ball this season while Bell plays at another spot. Nathan Scheler can also see some time there as well. The good thing is, we have options at this spot which is something this team could not say a few years ago. Mike Summers has to be grinning from ear to eat about the possibilities.
1. What will the final record be?
Best case scenario is that Louisville’s offense goes nuts and doesn’t skip a beat. The defense struggles some but then really becomes dominant as the season plays out. Worst case scenario is the offense struggles to score and the defense has issues stopping anybody including lesser opponents. Injuries also take a toll on the team and the Cards are out of bowl contention early. I have been saying it all summer and I will continue to say it, I think this team goes 7-5 with a trip to the Belk Bowl to cap off the year. BUT, I would not be surprised with a 8-4 or 9-3 finish as well. Something tells me this team will overachieve and shock some folks. I am not sold on Boston College nor do I think NC State is better after losing some key piece.
Clemson will probably go undefeated in league play and Florida State will be better. This is really a weird season in the ACC because there is so many questions left to be answered.
So there you have it. 30 questions and 30 answers to last you all the remaining 30 days we have left until football season starts. I look forward to the new season of BucketHatism and recapping another season of Cardinal Football for the fans. It should be a good one.