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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Post Thanksgiving Blues -- SUNDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Lamar Loses Grip on Ball; Louisville Loses Grip on Governor's Cup--UK 41 - UL 38

Let me start today by admitting that I knew less about the rules of college football yesterday afternoon than I thought. I was convinced that when the replay was shown, the Lamar Jackson fumble inside the ten yard line with the game on the line would be overturned. I thought that when the ball, or ball hand, made contact with the ground, the player was considered down. Thus, the "ground cannot cause a fumble" rule was born. After the referee announced that the call, not only stood, but was confirmed, I was thoroughly confused. During my walk home, a quick perusal of Wikipedia told me this. "It is possible for the ground to cause a fumble in college football if the ball hits the ground before any part of the ball carrier's body (other than the hand or foot) touches the ground." Basically, the rule states the exact opposite of what I thought to be true. A lesson for you kids at home, don't try to use your ball hand to brace yourself, apparently.

You'll notice that my tone is quite different today than after other losses. I've made a decision to not let the results of sporting events in which I do not actively participate have significant effects on my mental well being. I have spent too many days and nights upset about a game that I had not effect on. No point in being upset about all that, right? So here we are, the day after Louisville lost the Governor's Cup for the first time in six tries, and we have to figure out what is next for this talented football team. Postseason play is still very much at hand, and a 9-3 season is nothing to slouch at. If you had told me that Louisville would go 9-3 at the beginning of this year, I would have expected the third loss to have come at the hands of an ACC team, but I can't be mad at this kind of finish. Now, you might be frustrated at the way the team finished the season with back to back losses, each excruciating in their own way, but 9-3 will still put Louisville in a respectable bowl with the chance to beat a top-25 team and finish the season ranked. 

Fingers can be pointed all over the place about the loss of this game. No single group or player in particular can be blamed, but everyone had a hand in the loss. The coaching staff made interesting play calling decisions. Defensive players seemed extremely undisciplined in their coverage, which led to huge gains for the Kentucky offense. (I have to apologize to Stephen Johnson. I said on the air that it would be Kentucky's ground game that gave Louisville fits and he would not beat us through the air. Johnson made me eat this statement repeatedly yesterday.) Louisville turned the ball over 3 times (I'm not going to count Lamar Jackson's third interception because it was a Hail Mary pass with no time on the clock). I guess the only group I can't really be upset at is special teams, since they broke off a few big returns and I believe the best starting field position Kentucky had was the 35, when Blanton Creque sailed a kickoff out of bounds. All in all, it was just a frustrating game.

I will spend some time to harp on the defense, because something happened to them mid season. Before the season, if you had told me that Louisville would score 35 points in two losses, I would have been baffled. This defense has been the strength of the team since Bobby returned with Grantham in tow. Grantham even shrugged off potential NFL callers after successful seasons. Yet something happened in the back half of this season that caused a breakdown. In the Clemson game they allowed 42 points, but forced 5 turnovers, so I really have no idea what happened there. Duke ran the same 4 plays throughout the game and nearly beat Louisville because of it. Virginia kind of had their way. Against Houston, I can't really blame the defense for the bad position they were put in by the offense. But against Kentucky, I have no idea what happened. The wildcat offense (the scheme not their mascot) was apparently a concept that this defense had never heard of before in their lives. Snell, Kemp, and Williams all three made Louisville pay while snapping the ball. The Cards appeared to be going for big hits on every play instead of being aware of what was actually happening (hello, play action passes) and trying to force fumbles instead of securing tackles. That second one is how Kentucky gained a few first downs. Sure, Louisville had three turnovers, but Kentucky had two, and I have come to expect the defense to make more stops than the other team. Hopefully, Grantham can get their mind right in this month before whatever bowl game the Cards wind up in, and the seniors can end their season with a win.

Speaking of a win, the Hot Question now, is how far open did Lamar Jackson leave the door in the Heisman Race? A quick google search to determine how many fumbles he lost this season will gvie you nothing but Hot Take articles about "Jackson strikes Heisman Pose, the fumbles and loses to Kentucky" and "Did Lamar Jackson fumble away the Heisman?" Lamar Jackson, statistically, had four turnovers yesterday. For all intents and purposes, it was three, but people won't pay attention to that. He finished the season with 3390 passing yards, with 30 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He completed 58% of his passes and had a 153 passer rating. On the ground, he totaled 1538 yards with 21 touchdowns. Keep in mind that sack yards affect the rushing total of a player in college. Since apparently no one keeps stats on lost fumbles, I can't say what that is, but let's just assume it was quite a few. If the team had 22 on the year, I think it would be fair to say he had 9 of them for posterity's sake. Over twelve games, Lamar Jackson averaged 282.5 passing yards, 128 rushing yards, 4.25 TDs, and 1.5 turnovers per game. Louisville went 9-3, two losses on the road, one to a playoff team, and all three to teams with winning records. It sounds like a Heisman campaign to me, and I don't think anyone else is really close. I guess we'll find out come December. For once, I'll actually tune into the Heisman ceremony.

Men's Basketball Takes First Loss of Season in Tale of Two Halves

Before the game on Saturday, I figured I would be writing about Louisville splitting the two games I would focus on. At halftime on Friday, I figured I would be writing about two wins. Instead, the Cards knew how much I hated writing about losses, so they went ahead and blessed me with two in 24 hours. The Louisville men's basketball team was in the Bahamas last week, and played in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Looking ahead, I think most people around here anticipated that we would be matched up against Michigan State in the final, but Baylor made sure that didn't happen. I won't spend much time on it, because I'd rather forget this game ever happened, but Louisville tried very hard to keep themselves out of the final game with an opening night thriller against Old Dominion. On Wednesday night, the Cards couldn't hit the broadside of a barn. Fortunately, neither could ODU and the two went into overtime knotted up at 49. The Cards came away victorious and looked better (read: shot better) in a ten point win over Wichita State on Thursday. Before the Cards took on the Shockers, Baylor absolutely demolished Tom Izzo's Spartans in the second half to win by 15. Michigan State dropped their third loss that day, and, although they have all been to ranked teams, I'm beginning to wonder how far Tom Izzo can take them this year since they have literally no inside presence.

Those events led us to Friday's matchup against the Baylor Bears. Baylor has one of the best, if not the best, big men in the Big XII in forward Johnathan Motley. He lit up the first two games of the tournament, including 26 points against Michigan State. He has a great partner in center Jo Lual-Acuil, and the two of them make Baylor's front line a force to be reckoned with. In the first half on Friday, Louisville had all of the answers. Motley and Lual-Acuil were silenced, to the point that Motley was benched during the first half because he couldn't get anything done. Louisville led by 15 at the break and it looked like it would be smooth sailing in the Bahamas. It's "just better, better in the Bahamas," right?

It wasn't. For some reason, everything that had worked for Louisville in the first half, they stopped doing. The offense got sloppy. The defensive alignment changed, and, apparently, Louisville's big men just decided to forget that Johnathan Motley existed. He consistently attempted to remind them by pouring in bucket after bucket, but they continued to ignore him. This leads me to my "Tale of Two Halves" bit. In the first half, Louisville outrebounded Baylor 25-13, and outscored them 28-16 in the paint. In the second half, Louisville was outrebounded 18-10 and outscored in the paint 30-10. Baylor's bench had 33 second half points and the Bears shot 65% from the floor in the second half. I honestly can't remember the last time Rick Pitino's defense was broken down that badly. It was a sour ending to the tournament, but Pitino took the blame, saying that he depended too much on key players and needs to get some confidence in the bench. Whether that means that he needs to find his own confidence in them or get the bench players to increase their own confidence, I have no idea. However, the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one. I hope it gets figured out sooner rather than later, because I am worried that the assumption that Deng Adel is "X point differential" better than VJ King may lead to more losses in the future. Right now, it looks like the Cards are going to live and die by the play of Donovan Mitchell and Quentin Snider. I hope that Rick has the presence of mind to ride whatever hands are hot in terms of supporting cast for those two until other players can consistently prove that they are the other key players he was talking about.

All in all, I've been a basketball fan long enough to know that November losses are for teaching, not for losing our collective minds over, especially ones to teams that look as good as Baylor does right now. In fact, last time Louisville fell in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game, great things happened in April. The Cards will have another chance to prove themselves against a top 20 opponent when Purdue comes to town for the ACC/Big Ten challenge on Wednesday. Let's hope that they learned some lessons in Paradise. It's a long season ahead, and I'm looking forward to seeing what these guys can do.

Weekend Redemption Chances

Not all is lost this weekend, as there are some huge games to be played today. First, the women's basketball team will face their first (and arguably biggest) test of the season today in Springfield, Massachusetts when they take on the mighty Gamecocks of South Carolina. Jeff Walz took his fourth ranked Cardinals up the east coast on Friday and they'll meet the third ranked team from USCe at 1PM on ESPN2. It should be a huge matchup, and it is sure to go a long way toward determining whether or not either team's early season ranking or success was fool's gold or if both teams are legit. I've got my money on the latter. I'm hoping for a Cardinal win, as I'm sure you all are as well.

Beyond that, one fall sport is still clinging onto its season. The men's soccer team plays host to formerly number 1 ranked Notre Dame this evening at Lynn Stadium in the NCAA College Cup Sweet 16. The Cardinals knocked off Notre Dame 1-0 earlier this season in Lynn Stadium when the Irish were the top team in the land. The script is flipped today as ND will be playing the role of underdog. Louisville will be playing for a chance to host the Elite 8 game, and hopefully return to the College Cup for the first time since falling to Akron in the championship game in 2010. The game's first kick will be at 5PM, and berm/bleacher seats can be purchased for $5 at the gate. Ken Lolla raves about the atmosphere at Lynn, and Louisville truly is becoming a soccer city. If you're free this evening, and you haven't gotten the chance to see this team yet, I encourage you to head out to Lynn Stadium and give them a cheer.

This one isn't very redeeming, but Paulie, Worldwide and I took to the studio Friday afternoon and attempted to play Nostradamus. It worked to varying degrees of success (mostly not). If you didn't catch the broadcast yesterday at the regular Cardinal Couple Radio Hour time, you can find the recording online here. Additionally, Paulie has a nice interview with Kentucky Women Talk Sports cohost Daryl Foust during the show. Tune in next week for another exciting edition in which we talk mostly about games of which we already know the outcome.

As always, until next time, Go Cards.

There is a press conference at 4pm on campus where it is expected that Tom Jurich will announce the new head coach of the Volleyball team.  I will be there to get audio and give updates.  Keep an eye on and I'll try to live update as information comes out.  -- JMcA


  1. Wow good fast pace game,a lot of tick tack foul.

  2. Good test bad results UofL didn't play hard in the second half also didn't block out.

  3. Wow 0 for 3 a bad weekend for the cards, but that alright still strong GO CARDS!

  4. Really good piece. Tough to watch that football contest...

    As far as WBB goes...

    SC is strong. We're not yet, but it's early.

  5. KyLee Shook, played well in the post considering the level of competition ,she didn't back down.

  6. UPDATE: Louisville defeated Notre Dame 3-1 and advances to the elite 8!

  7. UofL post players got schooled tonight,but they are freshman,ciera & kylee will get better with time.
    MHA didn't have a good game,but that ok she'll bounce back.
    Also south carolina took the ball out of Asia's hands by trapping her.
    This team will learn from this game.Go Cards beat MARYLAND !
    PS Mariya moore really battle on the boards tonight & welcome back cortnee.

  8. Taylor needs more minutes but she's not playing well enough to get them. Mariya stunk in the open court. Killed us in the 2nd quarter literally taking us out of the game.

    We didnt have the guns to execute Walz game plan especially up front

  9. Thanks for the comments on Case's fine article and the hoops nightmare. It took me a long time to do the write up on it today...massively disappointed and tried to put it in the best light I could. Compliment the opponent and move on. Plenty of season left.



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