The University of Louisville Football team moved to 3-1 (1-1 ACC) on the season after a lightning delayed win over the Florida International Panthers 34-3 in Miami. It wasn’t a pretty win or as easy as last year’s 72-0 blitzkrieg of FIU. But that was a different Panther team……and this is certainly a different Louisville squad as well.
Things started perfect for the Cards as Michael Dyer returned to action and UofL scored on their opening possession for the 2nd time in as many weeks. Then the same problems from last week came, lack of protection on the offensive line, questionable decisions and throws from Will Gardner. Punt. Punt. 1st quarter ends with the Cards leading 7-0.
After driving the ball 62 yards the Cards looked like they might be find a groove, Will Gardner was sacked and stripped by Michael Wakefield after Skylar Lacy missed a block. Lacy made his first start for Louisville against FIU and had his good moments, but this wasn’t one of them. Louisville gave up the ball in scoring position and for the 1st time this season, the Cards went scoreless in the redzone.
Then it was the Louisville Defense’s turn to get the momentum going. Gerod Holliman, the nation’s leader in interceptions with 5, housed a pass from Alex McGough for Louisville’s 2nd score of the day (14-0), and then picked off a 2nd one on the very next play from scrimmage from Holliman. Gerod made some huge hits & tackles on the day and is finally playing like the U.S. Army All-American that the Cards signed out of High School. This is two fantastic games in a row from Holliman who has registered 2 interceptions in his last two games.
The offense was still stagnant, but James Quick took it upon himself to make a play over FIU’s Richard Leonard along the sideline, turn and score 74-yards down the field. Electrifying. Quick was not done and would score again before halftime on a two-play drive (both plays to Quick) capped off with a 37-yard TD pass from Gardner). Quick finished with 7 catches for 174 yards and 2 Touchdowns to add to his 61 yards of punt returns to tally 235 All-Purpose Yards on the day.
To start the 3rd Quarter a horrid backwards pass from Will Gardner to Dominique Brown was recovered by the Panthers. It was the 8th turnover of the season for Louisville (averaging 2 per game) and the 7 turnover of the year from Will Gardner. In addition to 7 of Louisville’s 8 turnovers happening inside the Louisville 35 in easy scoring position for Cardinal opponents.
In the 3rd Quarter the Cards suffered injuries to LJ Scott with an ankle injury (X-Rays Negative) and also lost Quarterback Will Gardner who left with a knee injury on the same knee that has had surgically repaired twice. Gardner was struck below the knee and the Cards did get the 15-yard penalty, but UofL could have lost its starting Quarterback for more than just the 2nd half of FIU. After the game, Petrino said that they would evaluate him tomorrow.
In all, the Louisville rushing attack managed just 12 yards after 4 sacks. Brandon Radcliff led the Cards with 8 carries for 26 yards. Its safe to say that the Louisville rushing attack MUST get better, along with the offensive line. Will Gardner finished 16-28 for 295 yards, 2 Touchdowns, 0 Interceptions, and 2 fumbles lost.
But the real story is the Louisville Defense. DeAngelo Brown, Sheldon Rankins, Pio Vatuvei, BJ Dubose, Lorenzo Mauldin, Deiontrez Mount, Keith Kelsey, James Burgess, Charles Gaines, Gerod Holliman, James Sample, Trumaine Washington, Andrew Johnson…………..I have one word to describe the Defense: AWESOME.
The Cardinal Offense has struggled with the change of staff, the Cardinal Defense has thrived. Todd Grantham & Company has carried Louisville football in 2014. Louisville has questions it needs answered on offense. The Good News? It has Bobby Petrino. The Bad News? The schedule reads: Wake Forest, Syracuse, Clemson, NC State, Florida State, Boston College, Notre Dame, and Kentucky.
There is time, but Louisville is fully in discovery mode 1/3 of the way through the 2014 season.