The Opening Week of College Football is when we make exaggerations. It’s when every player who has a good game is a Heisman candidate, every player that plays poorly should never start again and a team that misses expectations wasn’t who we thought they were – even if they win. Louisville’s 31-13 win over Miami in it’s ACC Debut is no expectation. There are plenty exaggerations to make.
I could talk about Will Gardner. I could be overly critical. I could talk about how his two fumbles within his opponents 10 yard line should be a cause for a concern. The two fumbles that only resulted in three points for the Hurricanes. But then I could tell you something else. I could ask if you think Heisman Winner Famous Jameis debut last season would have went so well if he’d have lost, say Kelvin Benjamin, a week before. I could also then go on to tell you that his 206 yards against the Hurricanes was more than both Stefan Lefors and Brian Brohm threw for in their Petrino debuts. Lefors and Brohm had the benefit of going against Kentucky, Gardner did not.
I could ask his Head Coach what he thought of his Sophomore QB in his first collegiate debut.
“I thought he did pretty well,” Head Coach Bobby Petrino told the media. “He had a couple mistakes. But you talk about poise and spirit. The way he responded after those mistakes, I’m really proud of that.”
That’s good enough for me.
I could get carried away with Dominique Brown. It’s easy to do so. The big, bulky tailback from Cincinnati was left bruised. He had a small gash below his ear, a battle wound of the victory. He didn’t care, he had earned it. He had earned it in the form of 33 carries, 151 yards and a touchdown. More carries than any running back in College Football’s opening week, almost as many as a guy named Michael Bush got in his career at Louisville – 37. Maybe he could be the next Michael Bush, he sure looked like it. He kept pleading with his Head Coach to give him the ball, he told him he would preform and he did just that.
“It’s a great feeling,” Brown said following the victory. “Especially when you have a Head Coach that wants to keep you out there and keep giving you the ball.”
I could also remember that maybe, once healthy Michael Dyer will have something to say about that. That maybe he’ll claim some of those carries.
One thing that isn’t an exaggeration is the road to Bobby Petrino 2.0 at Louisville is still under construction. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing either.
He’d like more drives to be like the second series of the Louisville Cardinal offense. The one where Will Gardner when 4 for 5 and executed two beautiful play action calls in Vintage Bobby Petrino style. If Hurricane winds had a remedy, it would be a drive like that one. A stab in the heart going 90 yards down the field. That drive ended in a two yard TD pass to Tight End Freshman Charles Standberry. Another Petrino staple. In a night that had plenty reminders of the past with Howard Schnellenburger, Deion Branch and other former Cardinal greats in attendance – that drive served as another one.
“That was a great,” Gardner noted of the series. “It was a long drive. I think it started at the ten. To get that first touchdown and the crowd into right away was a great feeling.”
Petrino wants a few things to be different, though. His first priority may be getting Corvin Lamb the ball. That 4.2 speed guy. That guy that touched the ball once on Monday night and may have had the biggest impact on the game. The play was a 97 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It came at a time when Miami had a 10-7 lead, their only lead of the game and one that Lamb quickly erased. Yes, perhaps getting him the ball more wouldn’t be a bad proposition.
“We’ve got to find a way to get him the ball more,” Petrino explained. “We didn’t see him much in camp but every time we saw him he got better.”
Petrino will also want something to stay the same – his defense. Todd Grantham, the Defensive Coordinator that Louisville spurned from Georgia, the guy that Dawg’ fans were so happy to see go, inherited the defense we thought he did. It was evident on Monday night. Both times when their Quarterback needed them to make up for his blunders – they did. They held Miami to just three points, not once but twice within their own 10. They pressured Miami Freshman QB Brad Kaaya sacking him twice and forcing him to go on the move countless of other times. They forced two interceptions, with those interceptions came flashes of the new, one from Junior JUCO James Sample and one from Gerold Holliman who played sparingly under the defense we had grown to know.
That’s new for Bobby Petrino. He’s used to outscoring teams, not holding them to less points.
Maybe that means that once this road is fully constructed, the Bobby Petrino 2.0 project will be something we’ve never seen. Maybe it’ll match genius playcalling, unstoppable offense with unstoppable defense. Maybe this is all so. Maybe I’m just spit-balling. Maybe I’m just exaggerating, after all, it is the first week of College Football.
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