Wanted to wait a few days to let Louisville’s 31-1o win over the Connecticut Huskies simmer before I went in-depth with my thoughts. By all intents & purposes, it was a ‘fair’ outing for the Cardinals. Louisville sleepwalked their way through a road win and what was essentially a snoozer. Not much was pretty about Louisville’s Friday night win. That being said, their were a few positives and negatives that we can take from it. Let’s break them down here:
The Play of Charles Gaines
I have always been high on Gaines. For the last two years, I’ve told anyone that would listen the same thing: “If he can get out of his own way, he is going to cause some problems for opposing offenses.” Check and check. After getting off to a rocky start with Head Coach Charlie Strong, Charles Gaines has finally got it together off the field and delivered on it. He’s really started to come on as we near the end of the season and Friday night was perhaps his best game of the season.
Gaines had the flashy plays: A blocked punt and sequential return for a TD of the blocked kick, along with an interception. But Gaines did some pretty ‘normal’ things really, really nicely. After a brief film review, I could only find one instance where he gave up a reception to a receiver he had single coverage on. Regardless of the talent disparity on the Uconn team, that’s a pretty impressive thing to do.
This stellar play – as noted above – hasn’t simply been limited to this one game. In his Sophomore season, Gaines has three touchdowns in the form of a Punt returned for a TD, Interception returned for a TD, and Blocked punt for a TD. That’s getting it done.
This is one of those instances where the stats don’t really show the full story. Bridgewater’s stats only threw the ball for 288 yards and a TD on 21/37. Although he’d be disappointed in the amount of incompletions he had & the interception, it’s hardly any performance to be disappointed about. Despite this, the stats still truly don’t show how good Teddy Bridgewater was on Friday night.
While most of the Louisville Football team seemed to be lethargically walking through the motions against the Huskies, Teddy was locked in. His 28 yard TD pass to Devante Parker featured one of the most beautiful safety look-offs that I’ve seen this season (it also helps when the coverage falls down). Despite getting pressured at times, he was able to get out of the pocket with ease and rush 7 times for 21 yards. Bridgewater should have had over 300 yards with ease, if it wasn’t for the seven drops that his receivers had.
I believe that on Friday, Bridgewater was as crisp as as he has been on season. Even with frigid temperatures that sometimes cause Quarterbacks to play below par, Bridgewater wasn’t phased by it. Following a night that a Heisman Hopeful stock took a plummet in the form of Marcus Mariota, Bridgewater was able to elevate his. He proved once again that he – at the very least – deserves to be in New York City for the celebration.
Folks have been clamoring to see the 5 star prospect on the field. I often get asked the same question: “Why is Charlie holding back James Quick?”. Well, you got your answer on Friday night.
It may be nerves. It may be learning the system or it may be something that is completely unknown to all of us, whatever the case, Quick was a liability to have on the field Friday night. I counted 4 drops for the Freshman stud and 2 of which were for third down conversions. That just can’t happen at the level that Louisville Football is competing.
The good thing is that Quick is just a Freshman. The jump from high school football to college football is quite possibly the biggest jump in any sport. Things move light years faster at the Collegiate level and even faster at the level that Louisville plays. He has shown flashes of the potential in his game. This one game certainly won’t define his career at Louisville and I still remain with the high expectations that I had before we came into the season.
I believe there is only one instance where you can say the Louisville Coaching Staff was outcoached this season, this isn’t one of them. However, this certainly wasn’t one of their best performances.
It was pretty disappointing to see how unprepared the Louisville team looked on Friday night. The coaches take some responsibility for doing a poor job of motivating and keeping the team with a sharp focus. However things like that happen to every College Football Program across the nation. 18 to 20 year olds struggle to get motivated for a bad team and play poorly. It happens everywhere, thus I won’t hold that against the Coaches too much.
The most glaring thing was the amount of the times that the Louisville Football team was penalized. It is absolutely unacceptable. 12 of them for a grand total of 121 yards. That can happen against Uconn but it can’t happen against Houston or any other above average team. It will get you beat. The players hold some responsibility for this too, but many of the flags thrown we’re a direct result of a lack of focus and that’s on the players.
Louisville produced an average win Friday night. The fanbase wants to see more: More points, More creativity, More dominance. Those type of performances – the DOMINANT ones- have barely happened this season and makes me wonder if the Cards are capable of it. Louisville simply took care of business in a less than extraordinary performance. It was on the road, so it’s a tad bit more impressive.
Team Grade: C+
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