Brandon Radcliff had waited and waited. He hadn’t played in two of the four games beforehand but that didn’t matter. Against Wake Forest, it was gonna be his day.
He had spent the whole week in his playbook, studying running through each block with precision, each cut with accuracy and seeing if their was anything he could do to improve. He had done this for the most part of his career, but this week was different. This week he had been given the green light to get the first carry. It was a big moment, though it didn’t end has planned. It was a cutback run that ended in a two yard loss. That didn’t matter, this wasn’t going to spoil his night. The Florida product who had may been an unknown to some, ran for his first career 100 yard game en route to a two touchdown, 129 yard evening against Wake Forest.
“I thought he looked faster than everyone,” Bobby Petrino would say after the game. “It was great to see Brandon Radcliff come in and gave us a big burst. He gave us a lot of energy”
His teammates would chime in with praise.
“He’s a dog in there,” center Jake Smith chimed in. “He’s a guy that has a lot of heart. I think if you were to ask anybody who has the most heart in this unit, it would be Brandon Radcliff just because that’s the way he is.
As for Radcliff, he was all smiles. His eyes glowed brightly as reporters surrounded him, this was all new to him. His shirt was reading ‘Showtime’ in bold font. It seemed fitting, he had certainly just exhibited that.
“Every game you expect to do something good,” Radcliff said after the game. “You work hard every day and expect the team to do that as well. When your number is called, you gotta’ capitalize.”
And capitalize he has. Through 40 carries, Radcliff has amassed 252 yards. That calculates to a 6.3 per carry average, not too shabby for a former three star recruit, eh?
Now we can expect things to different for Radcliff, just five days ago Radcliff was slotted last in the depth chart. That’s no longer the case. Expect Brandon Radcliff to be a continued feature in a Louisville offense that has sputtered. Louisville needs the dash of emotion, they did a kick start for their offense, Brandon Radcliff can provide that. His Head Coach said as much Monday in a session with reporters.
“I think he will (play more),” Petrino explained. “The way he practices and prepares, he deserves it. Then he went out and performed really well. He was the fastest guy on the field the other day for us. He made a lot of great plays – broke tackles, got in the end zone, ran really hard. He gave us all energy. That was the biggest thing.”
Louisville offense has sorely needed energy. They may have needed it more than ever against Wake Forest.
Trailing midway through the third quarter, Louisville’s offense was in a bad way. Freshmen Reggie Bonnafon had just fumbled the ball in the in zone giving the Demon Deacons a touchdown and their first lead of the game. They needed somebody, anybody to step up. Brandon Radcliff was the guy. He got four carries on the drive and laughed at any one that attempted to tackle him. He capped the drive with a 25 yard touchdown run, breaking throw tackles and missing others on the way there. It gave Louisville the lead for good.
That was one moment, here’s another. It was third and five midway through the fourth quarter, Louisville led by seven. Just like they had all day, they put the ball in the hands of the one who had carried them to finish off the game. He didn’t disappoint. He was contacted just short of the first down by a host of Wake Forest tacklers, but he wasn’t to be denied. It was ‘carrying’ the team in the most literal sense, the entire Wake Forest defense was at once on his back, yet still he pushed the pile 10 yards farther for a first down with help of the Louisville offensive line. It was one of the best individual efforts we’ve seen from a running back this season, and fitted perfectly with the sweeping notion that Brandon Radcliff and energy go hand-and-hand.
“Guess that’s where all those squats help,” Radcliff would say later.
Dominique Brown, Michael Dyer and even LJ Scott will factor into the Louisville offense as the season progresses. They’re too talented not to,and the Louisville offense could quickly turn into a run heavy one given that other options have worked out so well. However now there’s a new face staking his claim and by all accounts, he’s here to stay. Brandon Radcliff didn’t take a snap in two games this season and yet he’s 24 yards from being Louisville’s leading rusher. It’s becoming nearly impossible to deny him now.
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