Louisville Wins 44-12 over Wake Forest...Others Struggle to do the Same
Last night's game started in a way that I would be inclined to describe as sub-optimal. Louisville's first play was a pass for a gain of 7 or 8 that was fumbled to Wake Forest. On the ensuing drive, Louisville seemed like they'd get away with the turnover by stopping the Demon Deacons on fourth down, until a flag was thrown for unsportsmanlike conduct and the drive extended. Three first half fumbles and a flexible defense allowed Wake Forest to build a 12-0 lead on 4 field goals. Louisville picked up a field goal of their own in the second quarter to avoid being shut out in the half. Louisville trailed Wake Forest 12-3 at halftime. Clemson had just lost to Pitt on a last second field goal, Michigan's hands were full with Iowa and Washington was trailing USC. Everything looked to be going in the Cards favor (except the Clemson thing? Who really knows at this point?), but Louisville needed to win for it to matter.
|Jaire Alexander celebrates (?) a pass breakup.
After halftime, Louisville seemed to come to life. Wake continued to try to hold the ball, running the clock out to win looked like their aim. The fans started getting restless. Yesterday, on the radio show, I mentioned that Louisville needed to get Brandon Radcliff going again. He had been held in check of late. In this one, though, he broke out in a big way. He would go on to finish the game with 141 yards on 11 carries. His 12.8 yard average was the second most by a Cardinal with more than ten carries in a single game. In the third quarter, his 55 yard touchdown run put Louisville within a single score. It truly looked like this might be another case of Louisville having a rough game against an outmatched opponent. I was concerned that the game would come down to the wire.
And then the fourth quarter happened. Louisville took the field after the Muhammad Ali fourth quarter hype video and mopped the floor with Wake Forest, to the tune of 34-0 in the quarter. Radcliff had two more touchdowns in the quarter, Malik Williams got in on the fun, Lamar Jackson made sure he wasn't shut out with a touchdown pass to Cole Hikutini, and Ronald Walker took an interception back to the house. Riding high on a halftime lead, Wake left the field with their tail between their legs. They had been beaten, badly, not by Lamar Jackson, but by "a bunch of other dudes."
Last night's game saw a strange occurrence. Lamar Jackson never really got going. He finished the game with 298 total yards and one touchdown. He was held to only 14-26 passing for 145 yards. Some of those were drops, but others were just not great passes. Even the touchdown to Cole Hikutini was a fingertip catch. If Jackson felt it absolutely necessary to have a game in which he appeared to be an actual human quarterback, I suppose it is good that it came in a game in which the rest of the team was up to the task. In my mind, the Heisman is still his to lose (Jabrill Peppers, Jake Browning, and Deshaun Watson all lost yesterday), and the touchdown record is still in reach. Lamar needs 18 more touchdowns to break the record. Assuming Louisville plays three more games, he needs to average 6. If they make it 4 games, he only needs 4.5 per game. I really think it can be done.
Yesterday was a mess in college football. Three undefeated teams lost, and 5 of the top ten teams went down. I won't even pretend to know what is going to go on in the Playoff Committee's room on Tuesday, so I'll spare you my analysis this week. If I had to give you an answer, I would say that there is no way that Louisville gets left out of the top 4 this week, but I would fully expect the playoff committee to prove me wrong. Just like any other week, there is nothing that Louisville can do but win games, and watch the rest of the world burn. Chaos is still on the doorstep, for he is persistent, but the Cards continue to close the door in his face. Louisville finished ACC season with a 7-1 record. They currently sit a half game ahead of Clemson. A Wake Forest win next week over the Tigers would send Louisville to the ACC Championship Game.
If you're reading this, Cards, just win.
Men's Basketball off to Booming Start; Defeats Evansville 78-47
On the same night that Coach Jeff Walz and the Louisville women opened their season with a rout at UT Martin, the men's team tried to do the same in the KFC Yum! Center. With the frequency of games and the infrequency of my writings, I will generally keep these sections short. There are loads of other places to get your fix on men's basketball commentary (this is the University of Louisville we're talking about), but I'll still be here to give my thoughts on the team as the season progresses, giving more love to some of the bigger games.
Unlike the women, who did their soul searching last year and will look to hone their team identity this season, the men's team is changing their approach this year. To paraphrase Coach Rick Pitino's description of the new philosophy, "If you're open, shoot the ball. If the other team has it, steal the ball." We saw this new style work with varying degrees of success on Friday night. Evansville gave the Cards all they wanted in the first quarter of play, when back to back threes forced Rick Pitino to call a timeout with nine minutes to play in the first half. Louisville trailed 26-20. At the half, the Cards led 43-27. Boom University is back again. Louisville went on to dominate in the second half as well, playing every member of the team before the game was over.
In addition to the big Cardinal win, we got to see quite a bit from different players, both the ones we expected to break out and the ones we might not have. During last season, I told a couple of friends that I honestly expected Jaylen Johnson to grow into a better all around player than Montrezl Harrell. Whether or not that will end up coming to fruition is yet to be seen, but he took a big step toward a strong season this year on Friday night. Johnson finished the game with 19 points and 14 rebounds, finishing 9-11 from the field, including 1-1 from three. Unfortunately, he was 0-2 from the line, but hopefully that can get cleaned up. All of that was done in a mere 24 minutes. Donovan Mitchell started his season the way most people expected him to, finishing with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 assists in 26 minutes. He finished 6-11 from the field but a strong 4-5 from two point land. We'll look for him to clean up his 3 turnovers, but his aggression was promising.
Louisville takes the floor again Monday night against William and Mary at 7PM. No word on if William and Mary will bring anymore players along with them or if they'll just face the Cards 2 on 5 for the whole game.
Promising Field Hockey Season Comes to Heartbreaking End
The Louisville field hockey squad saw their postseason hopes of grandeur dashed yesterday afternoon with a hard loss to Delaware in the first round of the NCAA championship. Louisville's offense pressed hard, but was shut out for the first time all season, losing 1-0. The Cards held an 11-4 advantage in shots, including 8-0 in the second half, and a 4-1 advantage in penalty corners, but it was a ninth minute goal, slotted in the top corner off a cross, that proved to be the difference. After that, despite their best efforts, the Cards were unable to bring in the tying goal, even with pulling goalie Ayeisha McFerran late in the game. Credit must be given to the Blue Hens' goalie, Emmaline Oltmans, who finished the day with six saves.
All in all, the Louisville field hockey team put up quite a good season, finishing the year 15-6, 3-3 in a conference that made up one third of the NCAA tournament field, and being ranked in the top ten for ten weeks. The Cards lose eight seniors, but will look to build on the success that the youth on the team had this season. It was a heartbreaking end to a magical season, but those are the type that fuel you even harder for the next year.
I'll take 'Potpourri' for $600, Alex.
The fifth ranked Louisville women's basketball team opens their home season today against Belmont. The Cards and Bruins will tip off at 2PM in the Yum! Center. If you're free, it seems like a perfect day to see for yourself what the ladies will be working with this season.
The rowing team finishes up its fall season today in Virginia at the Rivana Romp. Louisville is taking on Virginia, Penn, Columbia, Clemson, and Duke. There are fewer events at this week's competition than last week's, but the Cards will look to build upon their success from Tennessee. At time of posting, Louisville had finished the 5th, 11th, and 15th in a 19 boat "Varsity 8s" field.
Swimming and Diving coach Arthur Albiero has Team USA in the lead after day one at the USA College Challenge. He's helped by current U of L swimmers, Andrea Cottrell and Mallory Comerford, as well as former Card, Kelsi Worrell. These swimmers were involved in 4 wins and a new American record in the 400m Medley Relay. They'll look to continue the good weekend in the pool as the event wraps up today.
The men's soccer team will find out their postseason fate when the NCAA tournament bracket is announced this evening. The Cards are almost assured a spot in the field after their successful regular season, but we'll be watching to find out who they'll be squared up against and whether or not Lynn Stadium will play host to a game.
Finally, we were joined in the studio yesterday by Jared Anderson of River City Cards. We talked a lot about football and women's basketball, as well as the fact that I desperately need to find a new intro song (suggestions welcomed in the comments). Check out the replay on WCHQ's website by following this link. (It's for sure here this time. I checked.)
Until next time, Go Cards.