It’s a Win!
The Cards desperately needed a notch in the W column after an 0-3 start and losing 4 games in a row dating back to its bowl game vs. Georgia. Everything is relative as Louisville did defeat FCS Samford, but things looked good for the Cards. 562 yards of offense, 288 rushing, 274 on the ground and allowed just 201 yards of offense.
Lamar Jackson was outstanding and the offensive line with new starters T.C. Klusman, Lukayus McNeil, and Kelby Johnson seemed to find cohesion with the scheme. Lamar was able to set a school record 184 yards rushing by a UofL QB and added 212 yards through the air on 15 of 22 passing. Reggie Bonnafon mixed in a QB and Running Back….who saw that coming?
The Cardinal offense had rhythm. The Louisville defense played like we expected forcing 4 turnovers. Players tackled well, Louisville RAN THE BALL the way they wanted to. The Cards got out of the game mostly injury free (Jeremy Smith did not return to action but did return to the sideline after a 2nd quarter injury) and now head to 4-0 NC State.
What will be interesting to see is if the new offensive line changes stick or if things continue to evolve in the weeks ahead. After the game Bobby Petrino did say that he they had “settled” on Lamar Jackson as the starting Quarterback for the foreseeable future and that he liked getting Reggie Bonnafon on the field because it makes the offense “faster”. Kyle Bolin did not see action after starting the Clemson game and coming in relief vs. Houston.
Getting James Quick back from an ankle injury proved to be a major blessing as he led the Cards in receiving
Defensively there were a few wrinkles. Jermaine Reve started at Free Safety with Chucky Williams at SS and Josh Harvey-Clemons at the Star Position. Additionally James Hearns got a lot more run in favor of Pio Vatuvei and also moved inside on 3rd downs.
Trumaine Washington had a HUGE game with an INT, Forced Fumble and a Pass Break Up. Keith Kelsey continues to be Louisville’s most consistent defender in 2015, and when the defense is getting off the field like they did vs. Samford the offense feeds off that production and transforms it into points.
Finally……Lamar Jackson and the freshman were outstanding once more. Lamar’s ability to keep plays alive is a major asset but Traveon Samuel, Jaylen Smith, Devante Peete, and Micky Crum really are PRODUCING offensively not just tonight against Samford, but they have been all season.
It’s difficult to say how much Louisville has grown in the long week between Clemson and Samford, but getting a win under their belts is bound to result in some confidence heading into two tough road division games in the next 3 weeks. This Louisville team is by no means a finished product, but tonight was the first step in the right direction. The Cards won a game and they may have found their Quarterback.
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