History of Governor’s Cup & Last Year Recap

Saturday’s game will mark the 26th Meeting between the Cards and Cats and the 20th consecutive match-up since the renewal of the series in 1994.  Previous to 1994 the series was on hiatus after 1924 when Kentucky defeated Louisville 6 times without the Cards scoring.  Upon renewal of the series Kentucky agreed to play Louisville on the condition that the game be held at Commonwealth Stadium until the Cards had a venue that could accommodate at least 40,000 fans.  As a result, and the evident deterioration of (Old) Cardinal Stadium, Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was erected for the 1998 season.  Currently the Cats hold the overall edge 14-11, with the Cards enjoying the most success in the modern series 11-8.

The Modern Day Scoring is Louisville 565 Kentucky 472.  The All-Time Scoring is UK 682 to UofL 565 as a result of Louisville not scoring in the first 6 meetings.  However, in order to put the proper perspective on the series I’m going to stick with some modern day facts.

The modern series average score is Louisville 29.74 to UK 24.84.  Before last year’s 18 point victory over Kentucky the previous 3 games have been decided by an average of 6 points.  The Cards are just 1-2 in their last three trips to Commonwealth, but do enjoy a 6-5 series advantage on the road in the rivalry.

Louisville has won 2 in a row in the series, but is just 2-4 in the last 6 meetings.

Last Year

Last year the Cards dominated 32-14 in front of a PJCS record crowd of 55,386.  The Cards did whatever they wanted on offense.  Take for example the stats: 466 yards, 247 passing, 219 rushing, Time of Possession of 36:21, and Teddy Bridgewater was 19 of 21 through the air.  Teddy’s incompletions:  A drop by Andrell Smith and a throw away while escaping the pocket.    But, that doesn’t even tell the whole story.  Louisville replaced Bridgewater with Will Stein with about 2:43 remaining in the 3rd Quarter.  Stein got 4 possessions with the Cards and failed to score, and it became clear to all Cards fans just how important Teddy Bridgewater is to the Louisville offense.

You can read my review of last year’s game here. 

Or you can watch CrumsRevenge highlights:

Governor’s Cup 2012: Louisville 32 Kentucky 14 from @CrumsRevenge on Vimeo.

Quick Rundown of the Series 

The Battle for the Governor’s Cup has so many other great moments.  I’ve attended all but two games in the series since it began in 1994, but I’ll never forget the opening game for PJCS in 1998 when Tim Couch sent pass after pass over the heads of Louisville DBs to Craig Yeast and Company.  It was hot. Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was brand new, the concession stands ran out of water and the Cards went down 68-34. UofL would trade that beatdown for another a year later in 1999 for a 56-28 score in Lexington.

But then in 2000, after an hour and fourteen minute storm delay Louisville and Kentucky were able to resume in overtime.  Tony Stallings broke off a 25-yard game sealing Touchdown run that capped off his 15 carry 144-yard and 2 Touchdown performance.  Stallings run and Louisville’s win really overshadowed a HUGE freshman debut by Kentucky QB Jared Lorenzen who threw for 22-34 for 322 and 3 TDs, he also added 3 INTs as well.

In 2002, Louisville was #17 in the Associated Press Pre-season poll and was shocked at Home in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.  Louisville’s Offensive Line was no match for Kentucky’s Defensive line led by DeWayne Robertson and Jeremy Caudill, and Artose Pinner was a persistent runner for 28 carries, 87 yards and a TD.  There wasn’t much pretty in this game for either team, but Jared Lorenzen was able to get his lone win (1-3 against the Cards) in a really hard fought game.  Lorenzen would finish 13-27 for 195 yards and a TD as well.  In contrast Dave Ragone was sacked and hit throughout the game and completed just 35.9% of his passes as he finished 14-39 for 193 yards with a TD and an INT.  (if anyone has any good video of this game I’d love to see it. Please e-mail me CardsandCats2011@gmail.com).

From 2003 to 2006 the Cardinals dominated the series under the direction of Bobby Petrino. Kentucky coach Rich Brooks wasn’t able to defeat the Cards until after Petrino left the school for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007.  Louisville went in to the 2003 game with a lot of questions: new coach in Bobby Petrino, new Quarterback, and questionable depth but the Cards were able to run the ball behind their new two-headed rushing attack in Lionel Gates (13 carries, 75 yards, TD) and Eric Shelton (25 carries, 151 yards, and 2 TDs).  Lefors managed the game 14-23 for 180 yards 1 TD/1 INT.  A thunderstorm also delayed this game but the moment that really should resonate in the minds of fans is that the Cards capped off the game’s final seconds up 33-24 with a last second Touchdown that drew the ire of Kentucky coach Rich Brooks.

There was much discussion on whether or not Bobby Petrino should have taken a knee during the 2003 game.  In 2004 Bobby Petrino did take a knee on the UK 1-yard line for  4th down giving the Cats the ball back with 9 seconds remaining in a 28-0 loss.  Louisville really dominated this game outgaining Kentucky 439-238 yards.  Again the damage was done on the ground with the Cards having a 261-66 advantage.  You can see some highlights including Bobby Petrino’s comments about taking a knee in the video below.

The 2005 game was unexpectedly interesting in the 4th quarter.  Louisville was without Stefan Lefors and was starting sophomore QB Brian Brohm for his first full-time starting role with the Cards.  The Cards raced off for a 28-7 halftime lead but the Cards would manage to score just 3 points in the 2nd half.  In the 3rd quarter Rafael Little broke off a huge 52-yard rush that would set up a TD, and Andre Woodson would find Jacob Tamme for an 85-yard TD early in the 4th quarter.  The game nearly was tied after UK blocked a Cardinal punt, but Andre Woodson fumbled the ball on the Louisville 2-yard line.  Louisville responded with a ball-controlling possession that lasted the final 6:21 of the game basically running the ball with Michael Bush.  Bush finished with 128 yards on 27 carries and two TDs.  But the player of the game was Elvis Dumervil who had 11 tackles, 6 sacks, and two Forced Fumbles.

The 2006 win for Louisville was bittersweet. Louisville dominated as the pre-season #13 team in the nation and beat the Cats 59-28.  The Cards scored on the 3rd play from scrimmage.  The play is still etched into the minds of Cardinal fans and the moment is forever remembered in the photo below.

The rest of the game went much the same way for the Cards.  Louisville outgained Kentucky 631-260, and had 31 first downs to Kentucky’s 8.  But if Bush’s first carry for a 48-yard TD is a signature moment, then what happened early in the 3rd quarter is equally infamous.  Bush took a carry for a 1-yard loss for his last as a Louisville Cardinal when Wesley Woodyard brought him down and Bush’s right leg was caught beneath Woodyard’s body.  The win for Louisville was the last in the Governor’s Cup until the Cards were able to reclaim the trophy last year in 2011.

In 2007 Kentucky surprised college football with an upset of the AP’s #10 Louisville Cardinals.  This game was one of the more exciting in the series and is affectionately known by Cat fans as “Stevie Got Loose”.  The game was extremely well-matched as UofL held the yardage margin with 467-460 yards, and UK had the first down advantage 27-26.  The Cards had two turnovers that was probably the difference along with Kentucky’s Rafael Little having an outstanding game on the ground with 151 yards on 27 carries.  The loss for the Cards negated a HUGE game by Louisville’s Harry Douglas who caught 13 balls for 223 yards.  The game’s final play saw Douglas catch a hail mary 10 yards short of the goal line.  A play that was necessary considering Andre Woodson to Steve Johnson over a nowhere to be found Woodny Turenne. The game & play is considered a turning point in the series as Kentucky would find itself #7 in the BCS standings during the October 14th poll, and Louisville would fall a week later to Syracuse and would fall out of the polls until the 2012 AP pre-season poll.

When you have some classics you are also going to have a few duds….The 2008 Governor’s Cup was probably the most boring game ever witnessed by man. It was hot, and there was no offense.  Compared to the 2007 game that saw a combined 927 yards, the 2008 contest was completely different with the two teams producing just 415 yards total (210 for UK, and 205 for UofL) and 16 combined punts.  The Cards gave the Cats the advantage by giving up the ball 5 times, Hunter Cantwell threw 3 INTs and added a fumble, Bilal Powell also fumbled.  Neither team was likely to score without the other making a mistake.  Kentucky scored their first points on a FG after a punt from the UofL 3-yard line was returned 22 yards and put the Cats in immediate FG range.  Bilal Powell’s fumble was returned for a Kentucky TD & Hunter Cantwell’s fumble was also returned for a UK TD.  Kentucky did put together a legitimate 12-play scoring drive for a field goal, before Hunter Cantwell set up another TD for Kentucky when Trevard Lindley intercepted his pass and returned it to the Louisville 7-yard line.  Tony Dixon would score on the next play.

The Cards managed to score their only points with a sack/safety by then walk-on Will Savoy.  And UofL had few scoring opportunities getting into Kentucky scoring territory 4 times the entire game.  The Cards had a FG blocked in the 1st quarter, then in the 2nd quarter Steve Kragthorpe elected to go for a 4th & 1 instead of attempting a 38-yard field goal while UK was winning 10-0.  Kentucky got the win, their second in consecutive years.  But this game was UGLY.  Kentucky’s defense dominated as they made opportunities against Louisville’s offense.

2009 was a return to entertaining football.  The game was balanced and was full of twists and turns.  It started in the first quarter where after a Louisville TD to put the Cards up 7-3, Derrick Locke quickly answered with a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD.  The Cats would take a 17-7 halftime lead.  The Cards would hit two field goals in the 3rd quarter to pull within 17-13, but then the fireworks began to happen in an eventful 4th quarter.  Two plays into the 4th the Cards capped a 10-play 69-yard drive to take the lead 20-17, and Kentucky answered right back with a 12-play 73 yard Touchdown drive of their own.  Louisville then came right back and needed just two plays to find Trent Guy for a 66-yard TD to reclaim the lead 27-24.

The Cards would stop Kentucky with a little more than 5 minutes remaining in the game, but Trent Guy fumbled the punt return and Kentucky’s AJ Nance would recover at the Cardinal 25-yard line.  Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb took just 3 plays to find the endzone and take the lead 31-27.  The Cards had 4:28 to drive the field, but the Cats helped out with an unsportsmanlike penalty that moved the kickoff back to the 15 giving the Cards the ball at their own 40 to start the drive.  Then the Cats helped UofL’s game winning drive again when Micah Johnson grabbed Victor Anderson’s facemask on the first play of the drive, stopping the clock and moving the ball into Louisville territory.  The game was effective over when UK’s Sam Maxwell hauling in a Justin Burke tipped pass off of the hands of Corey Peters.  The Cards would get the ball back after UK forced the Cards to use all of their timeouts while rushing for the next 3 plays before punting with just 50 seconds remaining.  The last minute drive was unsuccessful for the Cards and the Governor’s Cup stayed in Lexington.

The 2009 Game stands out to me for a lot of reasons.  Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb were awesome in this game.  They basically did what they wanted and I felt like UK didn’t use them as often as they should have which kept the game closer.  Locke was particularly impressive with 15 carries for 72 yards and a TD and also had 4 receptions for 47 yards.  Also Terrence Simien lacerated his kidney during this game and was playing extremely well. This was also the post-game press conference where Steve Kragthorpe famously said of Trent Guy: “That guy is a freaking stud”.  Following Guy’s 1 catch for 66 yard, and 5 kickoff returns for 170 yard performance and his fumbled punt that set up the Cat’s go-ahead score. In all the game was very closely matched Louisville had 19 first downs, Kentucky had 18. UofL had 378 yards and the Cats had 348.

The 2010 Governor’s Cup marked the beginning of the Joker Phillips and Charlie Strong era.  Going into the game the Cats were believed to have the advantage having won the previous 3 match-ups, the staff essentially remaining in place with the elevation of Joker Phillips to Head Coach from Offensive Coordinator, Mike Hartline returning at quarterback, and Kentucky having been to 4 straight bowl games.  Contrast that with Louisville who hadn’t been to a bowl in 3 years, had a complete overhaul of their staff, and did not have a sure-fire starting QB.  The game ended up being pretty close, but it was the Locke and Cobb show once again as the Cats tallied 466 yards to the Cards 317 while pulling away to a 23-16 victory in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

The game got started out early for the Wildcats who caught the young Cardinal defense out of position on their first possession.  Before the 1st quarter was over the Cats had a 13-0 lead on the Cards who could managed just one first down in the initial period.  Derrick Locke was HUGE for the Cats in the first quarter and basically dominated for the first 15 minutes.  The Cards were able to get on the board thanks to great field position by Victor Anderson’s 67-yard kickoff return that placed UofL in immediate scoring position. The Cards would not gain a first down, but did settle for a field goal.

After the 1st quarter domination from Derrick Locke it was Randall Cobb’s turn who proceeded to haul in a 51-yard TD run again catching the young Cardinal Defense out of position.  On the day Cobb and Locke would account for 325 combined all-purpose yards. But that Cats would score just once more in the game, a Ryan Tydlacka 41-yard field goal which allowed Louisville a chance (if they could find some offense) to make a comeback.  Unfortunately for the Cards in this contest, Touchdowns were hard to come by. In the 2nd quarter UofL settled for a FG following a 16-play, 8:08, 65 yard drive.  The only Cardinal touchdown on the day was a 1-play, 80-yard TD run by Bilal Powell.  Down 23-13 with 10:24 remaining in the game Louisville put together another long drive only to settle for a field goal in the end.  Louisville’s final possession of 17-plays and 71 yards was efficient, but not for a team trailing by two scores.  It simply took up too much time to score and the Cats were able to churn up the final 3:16 to end the game.  (any good video of this game would also be appreciated).

2011

The Cards were able to stop a 4-game losing streak  in Lexington 24-17 despite losing starting Quarterback Will Stein very early in the game.  In the end, it was Louisville’s ability to run the ball 181 yards on the ground to UK’s 35 that won the game for the Cards.  Dominique Brown made the switch from QB to RB after the Cards fell to Florida International, and he broke out with 91 yards on 14 carries.  Kentucky had a chance to tie the game in the 4th quarter when they had the ball in the redzone and actually looked like they would have converted a 3rd & 2 before UK’s DeMarco Robinson was stripped by Stephan Robinson.  As a result the Cats had to go for a desperation 4th & 6 after the loss of yardage and Morgan Newton’s pass to La’Rod King fell incomplete. You can read my review of the 2011s game with this link. 

Here is a highlight video from our very own UofL fan contributor: CrumsRevenge

FB (2011): Louisville 24 Kentucky 17 from @CrumsRevenge on Vimeo.

What the Game Traditionally Means

Typically the winner of the game enjoys success throughout the year, while the loser struggles to make a bowl.  The charts below illustrate:

Record When UofL wins wins losses Record when UofL Loses wins losses
1995 7 4 1994 6 5
1996 5 6 1997 1 10
1999 7 5 1998 7 5
2000 9 3 2002 7 6
2001 11 2 2007 6 6
2003 9 4 2008 5 7
2004 11 1 2009 4 8
2005 9 3 2010 7 6
2006 12 1 43 53
2011 7 6 5.38 6.63
2012 11 2
98 37
8.91 3.36

UK

Record when UK wins wins losses Record when UK loses wins losses
1994 1 10 1995 4 7
1997 5 6 1996 4 7
1998 7 5 1999 6 6
2002 7 5 2000 2 9
2007 8 5 2001 2 9
2008 7 6 2003 4 8
2009 7 6 2004 2 9
2010 6 7 2005 3 8
48 50 2006 8 5
6 6.25 2011 5 7
2012 2 10
42 85
3.82 7.73

Statistical Comparison

2013 Louisville Kentucky
Scoring Offense (ppg) 46.5 (16th) 33.5 (55th)
Total Offense (ypg) 545.0 (18th) 547.0 (16th)
Passing Offense (ypg) 406.5 (5th) 308.0 (26th)
Rushing Offense (ypg) 138.5 (83rd) 239.00 (32nd)
Scoring Defense (ppg) 7.0 (9th) 21.0 (47th)
Total Defense (ypg) 239.5 (13th) 304.5 (31st)
Passing Defense (ypg) 145.5 (20th) 147.0 (21st)
Rushing Defense (ypg) 94.00 (21st) 157.5 (71st)
Punt Returns (ypr) 6.43 (70th) 8.7 (48th)
Kickoff Returns (ypr) 22.67 (46th) 26.00 (27th)
Opponent Punt Returns (ypr) 5.5 (43rd) 9.86 (74th)
Opponent Kickoff Returns (ypr) 27.27 (108th) 23.00 (83rd)
Punting (ypp) 46.8 (11th) 42.09 (55th)
Field Goals % 100% (1st) 100% (1st)
Opponent Field Goals (%) 0% (1st) 0% (1st)
First Downs (per game) 23.5 (45th) 21.0 (65th)
Opponent First Downs (per game) 12.5 (10th) 15.0 (20th)
Penalties (ypg) 65.0 (95th) 93.0 (122nd)
Turnover Margin (season) +2 (24th) 0 (58th)
Time of Possession 33:14.50 (26th) 27:06.50 (101st)
Sacks (per game) 2.5 (27th) 3.0 (15th)
Sacks Allowed (per game) 0.5 (8th) 1.5 (49th)
Tackles for Loss (per game) 7.0 (39th) 5.0 (79th)
Tackles for Loss Allowed (per game) 5.0 (55th) 6.0 (75th)
Interceptions (season) 2 (36th)
Passes Defended (per game) 5.5 (31st) 1.5 (115th)
Fumbles Recovered (season) 1 (56th) 2 (23rd)
Fumbles Forced (season) 4 (5th) 3 (15th)
Fumbles Lost (season) 0 (1st) 2 (78th)
Kicks/Punts Blocked (season)
3rd Downs Conversions (%) 68.97% (5th) 38.46% (72nd)
Opponent 3rd Down Conversions (%) 35.71% (56th) 11.54% (2nd)
4th Down Conversions (%) 0% (88th) 100% (1st)
Opponent 4th Down Conversions (%) 0% (1st) 66.67% (75th)
Red Zone Conversions (%) 100% (1st) 88.89% (49th)
Red Zone TD Conversion (%) 71.43% (39th) 44.44% (99th)
Opponent Red Zone Conversions (%) 50% (10th) 62.5% (25th)
Opponent Red Zone TD Conversion (%) 50% (31st) 62.5% (67th)
Kickoffs (ypk) 63.35 (52nd) 53.29 (121st)

Louisville Offense vs. Kentucky Defense

Louisville Offense 

The Cardinal Offense is headed by Teddy Bridgewater.  Bridgewater, as many of you know, is a Heisman Trophy candidate and currently has the 3rd best QB Rating in the country and leads the nation with 9 TD passes.  In addition, many NFL scouts have Teddy in their Top 5 selections for the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft.  In their first two games Louisville’s offense is scoring 46.5 points per game and are compiling 545 yards per game.  Almost all of that production has been because of the passing game (406.5 ypg, and 10 of 12 TDs).

The passing game has a host of options at Bridgewater’s disposal beginning with Wide Receivers DeVante Parker (6-3, 209, Jr.) & Damian Copeland (6-1, 188, Sr.).  Copeland led the Cards a year ago in receptions, and Parker currently is 3rd All-Time in Receiving Touchdowns with 10 games remaining in his JUNIOR season.  Together these two would be an incredible duo of targets for a QB, but slot receivers Eli Rogers (5-10, 182, Jr.) & Robert Clark (5-9, 173, Jr.) are just as dangerous when safeties give up the middle of the field. Other weapons like Kai De La Cruz, Michaelee Harris, and James Quick all are capable of popping up and having big games.

Bridgewater isn’t solely focused on his wide receivers.  His ability to use all of his options in the passing game is what makes him so dangerous.  Teddy will often check down to his running backs & tight ends on plays that normally would result in a sack or a throw away for small to medium gains.  But the tight end group isn’t just a safety option for the Cardinal signal caller, Gerald Christian (6-3, 242, Jr.) has a long reception of 35 yards, and Ryan Hubbell (6-5, 227, Sr.) hauled in a 37-yarder.  Also it hasn’t happened as much in 2013 as of yet, but we have seen the running backs heavily involved in the passing game in this offense.

Protecting Teddy Bridgewater is an offensive line that has done a really nice job in pass protection allowing just 1 sack in 2 games.  The Cards have 7 offensive lineman who can mix and match based on situation & health:  Left Tackle: Jamon Brown (6-6, 350, Jr.); Left Guard: John Miller (6-2, 321, Jr.); Center: (Jake Smith, 6-3, 312, Jr.); Right Guard: Chris Acosta (6-3, 275, Jr)/or Kamran Joyer (6-3, 282, Sr.); Right Tackle: Nacho Garcia (6-5, 347, Soph)/or Ryan Mack (6-5, 319, Soph).    This is a really solid group that really has done a nice job replacing Mario Benavides and Alex Kupper from a year ago, with the biggest surprise being Chris Acosta.  Acosta has been in the program for a long time and Kamran Joyer missing  a lot of time during Fall Camp allowed Acosta an opportunity to shine…..and he did.  The emergence of Acosta really fixed a problem for Offensive Line coach Dave Borbely, as offensive lines generally need 7-8 viable lineman to be effective over the course of an entire season.

The running game stalled in Week 2 vs. Eastern Kentucky gaining just 78 yards (-1 yard for a sack) on 28 carries.  In Week 1 the Cards rushed for 199 yards on 40 carries against Ohio.  Many fans panicked about the running game from Week 1 to Week 2.  But I don’t put much stock into that.  The Louisville Running game was straight up & down vs. EKU and very few rushes outside with a pulling guard.  Still lining up and dominating EKU should be the expectation.  The running back rotation is slowly coming into form: Senorise Perry (6-0, 187, Sr.) is the #1 back a year after tearing his ACL during the Syracuse game.  Perry is FAST and is surprisingly very good between the tackles for his size.  Michael Dyer (5-9, 215, Jr.), in my mind has moved solidly into the #2 position (if not pushing for #1).  Dyer is an elite talent and is the 2011 BCS National Championship MVP (Auburn).  Dominique Brown 6-2, 216, Jr.) broke out in the 2011 Kentucky game at Commonwealth, and will continue to get a great deal of carries despite missing all of last season with a knee injury.

Louisville’s offense is multiple and predicated on the passing game. As of yet the Cards haven’t consistently lined up and rushed for huge totals, but I do believe they have the potential to be that kind of offense in a crucial 4th quarter.  I’d just like to see them do it in the 4th quarter before it matters.  The Louisville Offensive Line has provided excellent protection in 2013 for Teddy Bridgewater and as long as that remains true the Cardinal offense will continue to put up big numbers.

Kentucky Defense

Last year the Kentucky Defense was better than the numbers.  We’ll get to Kentucky’s offense in a minute but the defense had to play more plays and had almost no time to recover due to the Wildcat offense’s inability to move the ball and gain first downs.  This year, the Cats may actually have better personnel  in their front 7 to go along with a better scheme.  Still I think the Cats are susceptible to the pass and will rely on pressure on the Quarterback to cover up that weakness against Louisville.

Up front the Cats upgraded the defensive end position from a year ago where just about anybody could get the edge.  Bud Dupree (6-4, 252, Jr.) is a really good football player that may eventually move back to linebacker, and Za’Darius Smith (6-6, 254, Jr.) who currently leads the nation in sacks. True Freshman Jason Hatcher (6-3, 250) has also been productive in the rotation posting 5 tackles & a QB hurry thus far.  It will be interesting to see if this group can maintain their edge when Louisville runs the ball while also getting the right rush lanes on passing plays.

Inside the mainstays from last season Donte Rumph (6-3, 320, Sr.) & Mister Cobble (6-0, 338, Sr.) return and will start with Mike Douglas (6-4, 288 Jr.) & Tristian Johnson (6-1, 265, Sr.) providing depth. This group attempts to take on blockers and allow their linebackers to run free.

I always say, “Find me a good middle linebacker and I’ll show you two good interior defensive lineman.”  In this case of Avery Williamson (6-1, 238, Sr.)  all 3 are true.  I’ve interviewed Williamson on a handful of occasions and in my limited involvement with him I found him very likable. Ball carriers probably find him differently.  Williamson in two games has 20 tackles, a hurry, and a fumble recovery.  He is highly productive in the middle linebacker position for the Wildcats. On either side of Williamson, the Cats do have a problem. At strongside linebacker the staff still hasn’t settled on Kory Brown (6-0, 203, Jr.) which brings the questions about moving Dupree back to Linebacker.  Instead the staff often opts to go into nickel with Blake McClain (5-11, 190, Fr).  At weakside TraVaughn Paschal (6-4, 242, Jr.) has been productive with 11 tackles through 2 games.  Overall this group is highlighted by Williamson.

Kentucky’s main weakness on defense comes in the secondary.  The front 7 must apply so much pressure in the passing game to cover up for this, that they were actually very susceptible to the run against Western Kentucky.  Still the Tops passed for 271 yards.  Ashley Lowery (6-1, 211, Jr.) & Eric Dixon (5-11, 187, Jr.) are the safeties for the Cats and have combined for 15 tackles on the season.  UK needs to get more production from their safety spot to really make a jump on defense.  Right now, they just aren’t getting the type of play they need from their safeties.

At corner, the entire group should probably be wearing green jerseys.  There just isn’t a lot of experience, but there is good size.  Nate Willis (6-0, 180, Jr.) came in late from Junior College & Fred Tiller (6-0, 171, Soph) played in 11 games as a true freshman in 2012.  Willis is good in coverage and has 2 pass break-ups, while Tiller is a nice boundary corner and is a very good tackler. But these two still leave plenty of room for a good QB to work with.  With experience that will change, but for now this is what Kentucky is dealing with.

Who Has the Edge?

Louisville.

I don’t want to fully discount Kentucky’s Miami (OH) game where the Cats allowed just 122 yards of total offense to the RedHawks.  But there is a big gap between Week 1 & Week 2 when the Cats allowed 487 yards to Western Kentucky.  Where is the truth?  Well I’d like to take a look at WKU in Week 2 (gained 393 vs. Tennessee), and Week 1 for Miami (gained 239 vs. Marshall).  Numbers can lie, but I feel safe in saying that Kentucky’s Defense is worse than Tennessee’s & better than Marshall’s.

What does that mean?????  Nothing.

Western Kentucky’s offense is more like Louisville’s than anything, and the weapons that Cards have are better than what the Hilltoppers currently have. Teddy Bridgewater and his stable of receivers is a distinct mis-match against this Kentucky Defense.  I do expect Kentucky will blitz.  A LOT.  I also think the Cats will try to mix in a lot of different coverages, but in the end I think they will eventually go to strict man so they can try and bring as much pressure as possible on Louisville.  It will become clear early, that if Teddy has time to throw the Cats will give up yardage and first downs, leading to TDs.  So I believe Stoops & DJ Eliot will try and maximize the pressure.

In the running game Defensive End play will be the big factor here.  The Cards like to get outside and got all that they wanted in 2012 against UK.  With the emphasis on getting pressure on UK I expect the Cards to try and get some outside runs in order to protect Teddy using play-action, and also keep those Defensive Ends guessing so they have to wait on their responsibility.  Of course, some of these runs will go directly into the UK blitz, but the Cards only need to break a couple nice runs to keep the Cats on their toes.

This is a big advantage for Louisville.  The main thing Louisville will be concerned with is protecting the ball and staying on schedule.  Everyone loves the big-hitter, and Shawn Watson even spoke at yesterday’s practice about being more explosive. But being explosive also means being patient and running the offense while finding opportunities.  Patient & ready is exactly what Teddy Bridgewater is at the Quarterback position.  The Cards have all the weapons here, they just need to avoid the mistakes.

Kentucky Offense vs. Louisville Defense 

Kentucky’s Offense

Neal Brown’s ‘Air Raid’ offense is not in its final state in 2013.  Not by a long shot.  Wildcat personnel fits better with a strong running game, the future is in the air.  As a result the Cats have used 2 quarterbacks in 2013.  Max Smith (6-4, 218, Soph) is a pass only option, Jalen Whitlow (6-2, 220, Soph) is a dual-threat.  Thus far Max Smith has a recorded win over Miami (OH) and has passed for 23 of 36, 435 yards, 4 TDs.  Jalen Whitlow was at the helm for the WKU loss and is 20 of 27, 181 yards passing, 0 TDs through the air.  Whitlow also has 14 carries for 123 yards and 2 TDs rushing.  Max Smith will start against the Cards, but don’t be surprised to see a few packages with Whitlow at QB.

The Cats like to spread the ball around and through 2 games, 12 players have recorded receptions.  Junior College Transfer Javess Blue (6-0, 190, Jr.) leads UK with 9 receptions, 139 yards, and 1 TD.  Blue had a long of 88 yards for the lion-share of the yardage, but is easily the most targeted Wildcat in the passing game.  True Freshman Ryan Timmons (5-10, 185, Fr.) has 6 hauls for 61 yards and is currently 2nd on the team in receptions. Behind Timmons Tight End Anthony Kendrick (6-3, 233, Sr.), WR Demarco Robinson (5-10, 158, Jr.), and Alex Montgomery (6-2, 210 Fr.) are tied with 5 catches a piece. Freshman Jeff Badet (6-0, 170, Fr.) also figures to have an increasing role in the passing game as the season rolls along for the Cats.  With Max Smith or Jalen Whitlow, the Cats really like to spread the field and complete short to intermediate throws.  There is a lot of shotgun and quick reads to negate pressure.

Raymond Sanders (5-8, 187, Sr.), Jonathan George (5-10, 209, Sr.), and JoJo Kemp (5-10, 190, Fr.) are Kentucky’s three main running backs thus far in 2013.  Sanders has 20 carries for 137 yards, 1 TD; George 13 carries for 39 yards, 1 TD; and Kemp 13 carries for 87 yards. George also has a 48-yard reception to his credit, while Sanders has 4 catches for 25 yards.  This group is going to get their chances as the run/pass mix is 84/63 thus far in favor of the run.

The UK offensive line is highlighted by Right Guard Kevin Mitchell (6-6, 289, Sr.) who was the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week last week against Miami (OH).  The Left Tackle position is held down by Darrian Miller (6-5, 284, Jr.), while the Cats have gone between two different left guards in Zach West (6-4, 308, Soph) & Teven Eatmon-Nared (6-7, 330, Jr.).  This week is looks as if West will get the nod at LG. The Cats have also flip-flopped the Center between Zach Myers (6-3, 277, RS-FR) and Jon Toth (6-5, 285, RS-FR) and Toth should get the start with Max Smith under center.  Finally the RT spot is held by Jordan Swindle (6-7, 290, Soph).  This group is probably feeling really good having allowed just 3 sacks on the season and fresh off a 675 yard performance against Miami (OH), including 262 yards on the ground.

Louisville’s Defense 

Up front the Cards are lead by senior NT Brandon Dunn (6-3, 300).  Dunn has been outstanding to start the year compiling 9 tackles and 2.5 sacks from the interior.  Next to Dunn is Lexington native Roy Philon (6-3, 290, Sr.) who has 5 tackles and a sack thus far.  On the outside the Cards use a healthy rotation of 5 players:  Marcus Smith (6-3, 260, Sr.) 5 tkls, 1 TFL; Deiontrez Mount (6-5, 243, Jr.) 3 tkls; Lorenzo Mauldin (6-4, 243, Jr.) 6 tkls, 1.5 TFLs; Nick Dawson (6-3, 261, Fr) 8 tkls 1.5 TFLs; and BJ Dubose (6-5, 287, Jr.) 2 tkls.   So far the Defensive Line has been completely different than it was in 2012.

At linebacker the group is headed by Senior MLB Preston Brown (6-0, 260) who leads the Cardinals in tackles with 17, 3.0 TFLs, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble.  The way Preston Brown is playing in 2013 has been outstanding.  Brown has always racked up big tackle totals, but him adding TFLs, Sacks, & Forced Fumbles will set him apart and take the Cardinal defense to the next level.  James Burgess (6-0, 214, Soph) has also really stepped his game up from a year before. Burgess is 2nd in tackles with 15, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 2 pass break-ups.  At strong side LB George Durant  (6-0, 245, Sr.) has been very steady with 6 tackles.

When the Cards go to Nickel package Andrew Johnson (5-9, 186, Jr.) comes in and either Durant or Burgess (usually Durant) comes off the field. Johnson is also Louisville’s 3rd or 4th cornerback in the rotation.  Jermaine Reve (6-0, 180, Soph) & Terrell Floyd (5-10, 201, Jr.) are the #1 group and have been fantastic thus far in 2013.  The Cards are 20th in the nation in passing and have allowed just 145.5 yards per game in the first two games.

A big part of that passing game production has been because of Safeties Calvin Pryor (6-2, 208, Jr.) & Hakeem Smith (6-1, 179, Sr.) both ALL-Conference performers.  Pryor has 11 tackles and an INT thus far, Hakeem has 5 tackles & an INT himself. With the way these two play the Cardinal Corners can play with confidence, and so can the Louisville Front 7.  Pryor and Smith make the Louisville defense extremely effective both against the pass & the run.

Who Has The Edge?

Louisville.

Last year the Cards couldn’t rush Max Smith due to the quick drops & throws, but it still didn’t matter.  The Cards didn’t allow much to the Wildcats until late in the contest and the game was decided.  UK had 419 yards against WKU, but tallied 675 against Miami (OH).  I think the Cardinal defense is significantly better than both of those groups and should be able to do a nice job.  That being said, UK is light years ahead of where they were a year ago in terms of yardage production and are much more likely now to break a big play. The Cards have a distinct advantage on 3rd down, and that really is going to be the difference.  If Louisville doesn’t give up the big gainer they shouldn’t have much problem slowing the Kentucky offense.

My Prediction

I think the game will play out pretty quickly on Saturday.  The weather should be perfect and it is a road game for the Cardinals, but there should also be plenty of red in the stands at Commonwealth.  Kentucky’s offense was one of the worst in the country last season, and they just switched quarterbacks last week.  I do think Max Smith gives UK a better chance to beat Louisville, but Kentucky’s offensive line probably isn’t ready for the challenge they will face on Saturday.  In addition to that, I don’t think Kentucky receivers have the seasoning to go against this Louisville secondary, and Raymond Sanders running the ball is probably’s UK’s best weapon.  But the Cards are very good against the run.  UK is improved offensively but I think they still have quite a ways to go, especially against this Louisville Defense.

Things get out of hand when the Cards have the ball.  The differences in personnel on this side couldn’t be further apart.  Bud Dupree is playing out of position and both linebackers on the outside of Avery Williamson just don’t measure up.  Behind the front 7, well……..Teddy Bridgewater should have things his way.  I think Louisville has a big time advantage in the match-up against their defensive backs.  I think they have a big-time advantage with their tight ends against UK’s safeties & linebackers.  Louisville’s running game is still rounding into form, but they held a lot back against EKU.  I expect that more pulls and outside runs will be used against UK and I think Perry, Dyer, and Brown have a big day.

In the end I think Louisville wins 42-17.

Press Conferences

Attending, Listening, Watching

-Tickets to the Governor’s Cup are still available on Ticketmaster.com, but you can probably find them cheaper on StubHub. Louisville sections are from 114-116 in the lower level.

-Paul Rogers, Joe Tronzo, and Doug Ormay will call the game on the Louisville Radio Sports Network.  In Louisville the call can be heard on WKRD 790.  840 WHAS will carry the Kentucky play by play with Tom Leach, Jeff Piecoro, & Dick Gabriel on the UK IMG Sports Network.

-Satellite Radio: Sirius Ch: 98, XM Ch: 199

-The Governor’s Cup will be broadcast live on ESPN with Beth Mowins (pxp), Joey Galloway (color) and Paul Carcaterra (sideline).

 

Howard Schnellenberger Award Honors MVP in Governor’s Cup

For the fourth consecutive season, the Louisville Sports Commission will present the Howard Schnellenberger MVP Award to the most valuable player on the winning team in the annual rivalry between the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky football teams. The Cardinals and Wildcats will meet on the field at noon EDT September 14 at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. The game will be televised on ESPN.

The Howard Schnellenberger MVP Award was created in 2010 by the Louisville Sports Commission and received the blessing of both schools and Schnellenberger, who has strong ties to both programs and remarkable football credentials. The award winner is selected by a vote of the working press covering the annual game as identified by the SIDs from each school; the Award will be presented on the field immediately following the game.

A Louisville native, Schnellenberger was recruited to UK by the legendary Bear Bryant, earned varsity letters in 1952-53-54-55 and was an All-American tight end for the Wildcats under Blanton Collier as a senior. Schnellenberger later served as an assistant coach at UK under Collier in 1959 and 1960. As the head coach at UofL for 10 years (1985-1994), Schnellenberger is credited with rejuvenating the football program and boosting support for a new, on-campus stadium. He led the Cardinals to signature victories in the Liberty and Fiesta Bowls.

As a result of his contributions to college football in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Schnellenberger is the only person enshrined in the athletic halls of fame at both the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.

During his storied career, Schnellenberger was offensive coordinator for national championships at Alabama in the 1960s and Super Bowl wins with the Miami Dolphins in the 1970s, then led the Miami Hurricanes to national prominence and the 1983 national championship. Schnellenberger was an integral part of four national championships in college football and two Super Bowl victories. He coached the University of Miami to the 1983 national championship and was offensive coordinator under Bryant at Alabama for national titles in 1961-64-65. He was the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins under Don Shula, including the 17-0 season in 1972. Schnellenberger went on to build and coach an NCAA Division I (FCS) football program at Florida Atlantic University. At Miami, Louisville and FAU, Schnellenberger-coached teams were a remarkable 6-0 in bowl games.

He retired as FAU coach following the 2011 season and now works in the University’s Division of Community Engagement.

2012 Schnellenberger Award Winner. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater earned the Award with a sterling performance in Louisville’s 32-14 win over Kentucky at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. He completed 19-21 passes for 232 yards and no interceptions and set a UofL single-game record by completing 90.5 percent of his passes. He led UofL on a 15-play, 99-yard scoring drive on the Cardinals’ first possession and a six-play 85-yard scoring drive on their second possession for a lead they would never relinquish.

2011 Schnellenberger Award Winner. A senior linebacker and Louisville native, Dexter Heyman earned the 2011 Award as the Cards defeated the Wildcats 24-17 on Sept. 17 at Commonwealth Stadium. Heyman made 12 tackles, two for a loss, and a forced fumble recovered by a teammate, leading the Cardinal defense that limited the Wildcats to 35 yards rushing in 32 carries.

2010 Schnellenberger Award Winner. UK senior running back Derrick Locke was named the inaugural recipient of the Award for his performance in the Wildcats’ 23-16 win over Louisville on Sept. 3 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Locke registered 150 all-purpose yards, including 104 rushing yards on 23 carries. He scored two first quarter touchdowns for a lead UK would never relinquish.

The Award. The Howard Schnellengerger MVP Award is a genuine Louisville Slugger Bat handmade at the factory in downtown Louisville. At the request of the Louisville Sports Commission, the legendary Hillerich & Bradsby company created this unique award, where one side of the bat is Wildcat blue and the other is Cardinal red, crafted with Louisville Slugger’s proprietary spray finish system. Both sides of the award bear the unmistakable Louisville Slugger oval logo that represents 129 years of athletic excellence, and the engraving reads:

Howard Schnellenberger MVP AWARD, KENTUCKY VS LOUISVILLE, SEPTEMBER 14, 2013.

The game MVP will have his name engraved on the side of the bat representing his team.

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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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