The following was written by former Louisville kicker and 2006 Lou Groza Award winner Art Carmody
It was tough loss last week to the Bearcats but that's already in the past. The Cards get a great chance this weekend to pick up a Big East win at home against UConn. Here's hoping the fair catch is legally called.
I told myself that I wouldn’t get into the habit of posting about my memories dealing with that week's opponent, but whatever, I am going to fold and post my top five Connecticut memories.
5. Hunter Cantwell's first start in 2005. On the road, he led us to a win to finish the season strong before the Gator Bowl. He showed he could handle running the offense.
4. The weather. The first two games in the series were freezing cold. In 2005 I think I spent most of my time next to the heater on the sidelines. Being from Louisiana, I don't think I had ever been this cold in my life. In 2006 it was cold, but a deceptive cold because the sun was shining. In 2007 it rained the night before and then all day of the game. I don't think I had ever been on a field with more water. My teammates will concur.
3. Brian Brohm torching them in 2006 with four touchdown passes, two to Harry Douglas. They couldn't stop us.
2. Dane Mattingly. In 2007, after Earl Heyman had rumbled into the end zone, we were out there waiting for the extra point when I realized we only had ten guys on the field. I couldn't figure out who it was because I would always skip over the snapper when I counted. Dane came running on the field late and we got the extra point off just in time. When he came to tap me on the helmet like he usually did I asked him where he had been. He told me he was getting the crowd pumped up. As I got to the sidelines one of our assistant strength coaches was laughing and told me that they had to go find Dane. Dane had been standing on the bench waving a towel to get the crowd going and forgot that he had to come in and snap the extra point attempt.
1. Clinching a share of the Big East title and "supposed" spot in the Orange Bowl.
It was a lot of fun after the game walking around the stadium and thanking the fans. Over the loudspeakers they were playing John Denver's "Country Road" in anticipation of the Rutgers-WVU game that night. Everyone was throwing oranges all over the field, and in the locker room after the game the Orange Bowl officials were handing us these patches and stickers. I was always the pessimistic one and remember sitting in the corner of our locker room talking to William Gay and asking, "What happens if Rutgers wins tonight?"
I don't think I had ever been more nervous watching an overtime game than that night. I did not want to go to the Sun Bowl, or Texas Bowl, or whatever it was. All I can say is, thanks Jarrett Brown for filling in for Pat White. It was a great day that ended late that night with us winning the Big East outright and punching our tickets to Miami.
All right, now on to your questions.
I opened up my post to answer whatever questions you guys had regarding the program, kicking, life, whatever. Thanks to Louis, Chad, LK, Jordan, B.J. and my little brother’s college roommate Blake Coscino for sending the following questions in. Hopefully we will do this again in a later post.
My question is about the wind at PJCS... How does it affect FGs when it blows south? Does the football complex shield the north goal posts?
The wind at PJCS is not as bad as some other stadiums that I have kicked in, but sometimes it can get tricky. During my playing days I would always hope that the wind would be blowing to the open end of the stadium. The reason I preferred that was because you would have the wind at your back on field goals that way and the closed end of the stadium would somewhat block the wind when you would be kicking into it.
When the wind blows towards the south it comes in around the football complex and will swirl around the goalposts. Also, I learned early on to never judge the flags on top of the goalposts. They are not very heavy and are impacted by the smallest amount of wind. You have to judge the wind in warm-ups and notice any changes throughout the game. The only time I would ever try to "play" the wind would be when I was outside of forty yards.
If you could've kicked a game-winning FG against any team on the road as time expired, who would it have been? And second, who would win in arm-wrestling: You or Todd Flannery? You or Breno Giacomini?
The team I most wanted to kick a game-winner against was West Virginia. We always played classic games and it would have been awesome to beat them in the last seconds. They have a lot of history and Morgantown is a great place to visit if you are a college football fan. I thought I might have a shot in 2005 and 2007, but the Mountaineers pulled those games out. I will write about those later on in the season.
For the question about arm-wrestling, Todd Flannery and I were workout partners for four years in the weight room and we always battled on who could lift more. Personally, I think it would be an epic battle between two kickers. Kind of like the movie Over the Top with Sylvester Stallone, but without the battle for child custody. Now the battle between Breno and me would not be a contest. It would be totally one-sided with me winning.
My question is, out of all the other kickers you have gone toe to toe with, who was the most unliked? (I changed some choice words into "most unliked") Im hoping you say Jeremy Ito. That picture of him pointing up at the ESPN cameras after beating us kills me everytime.
I was fortunate in that all of the kickers in the Big East were great guys. Kickers are like a fraternity. We all know each other and make it a habit before the game to talk to the other kicker, ask how things are going, and wish him the best of luck. I try to keep up with most of them.
Conor Lee from Pittsburgh was a really great guy, and I always enjoyed talking to Pat McAfee from West Virginia. Pat was hilarious and always had funny stories. I was reading about his incident in Indianapolis and couldn’t stop laughing because I could picture him saying all of those things. If you haven’t read what happened I would Google it.
I am sure everyone wants me to say Jeremy Ito, but in all honesty Jeremy was a pretty nice guy to me. He didn’t adhere to some of the kicker habits and there were some other kickers that didn’t like him, but I have nothing but good things to say. I still don’t like the finger point, but it is what it is. A lot of people (not Cards fans) forgot that he missed the kick before he made the game-winner. If that would have been me I would have been so relieved to get another chance that I would have just ran off the field.
(Editor's Note: Art claims every human being alive is "a really good guy." There's no way Ito is cool)
From your perspective, how much of the kicking game is really "in your head" and how much is based off of unappreciated (at least by casual fans) conditions, like environmental, snap, hold, (insert laces out joke here), etc.? If kicking really is so finicky, how were you able to maintain consistent success?
Kicking is very mental and way more important than the physical aspect of it. It was an aspect that I worked to get better at as my career progressed. It also helps when you have guys that are serious about their jobs. I was fortunate to have some great snappers and holders. Not only were they good, but they were willing to do the work necessary to get us better as a unit. Snappers Matt Webb, Michael Sturgeon, Dane Mattingly; and holders Stefan Lefors, Harry Douglas, and Bill Ashburn. I can’t thank those guys enough for the extra time they would put in whenever I asked them too.
The only time conditions (wind, rain, etc.) really come into play are for distances going either way. For example, based on the way the wind is blowing, you might feel good from 53 going one way but only good from about 45 going the other way. To be completely honest I was able to maintain a lot of my success by trying to keep Coach Petrino from chewing me out on the practice field. He was tough on all his players, kickers included. I learned that as long as I would make all my kicks he wouldn’t have anything to say. It worked out well for both of us.
Were there really a plethora of problems with UofL football when Kragthorpe got here, or is he just a horrible coach who milked this city for over 5 mill?
This is a topic that has sort of bothered me. First off, let me clear the air on Coach Kragthorpe. I really enjoyed playing for him and I still believe that he is a very good football coach. However, it just didn't work out for him when he was here. That is just part of the game and it was magnified by all of the success the program had prior to him taking over. I really do not think that Coach Kragthorpe inherited a mess of problems when he got here. He inherited a good, not great, football team in 2007.
During the Petrino era, I thought that Bobby ran a tight ship. One of the things that he did well was he had his assistant coaches take ownership of their players. They were always checking in with us and monitoring our grades, etc. In 2008 after I had left we started hearing that Kragthorpe inherited a mess, he inherited a bunch of hoodlums, etc. I did not like that and neither did a lot of my former teammates.
In 2008 when Brian Brohm was with the Packers, I went down to New Orleans when they were playing the Saints for Monday Night Football. We went to dinner down at Mr. B's Bistro (Great place that I recommend if anyone is ever down that way) and were talking about the season the cardinals were having. Brian brought up what all the media was saying and expressed how disappointed he was in what was being said. I agreed and we talked about all of the work we had put in to be successful during those years and all of the stuff off the field that we did as a team. All they could talk about though was how the program was a mess. There were some guys that transferred, some guys that left on their own, and some guys that didn't abide by team rules. That is part of every college football program year over year. I was proud to be a member of the football program from 2003-2007 and thought/think that we left it in a better place than we found it.
Lastly, my brother’s roommate at Ole Miss asked me, how many beers do you think we could get if we took out the Groza?
The answer is not how many beers we would get, it is how many kegs of beer we would get, and it would be a heck of a party. Hopefully Bilal Powell will be bringing a Doak Walker Award with him as well. Everyone is invited.