I usually start typing the blog on Wednesday and then finish it up on Thursday. However, this week I am starting late Thursday night and had a whole theme planned on the West Virginia-Louisville rivalry, but just to see what had been posted on Card Chronicle I fired up Safari web and saw that Mike had pretty much had this one covered. So as much as I love the WVU-Louisville rivalry (every game is hard-fought), I didn’t really feel like writing about the games because all of them but one (2006!!!) resulted in losses, some of them deflating. Also, since it is pretty late right now I am going to just write about whatever comes to my mind regarding Louisville football.
Finishing up my thoughts on Quarterbacks:
Here are two quarterbacks who contributed a lot to the cardinal football program and don't get a great deal of recognition.
Justin Rascatti (2002-2003) – Justin was a great quarterback who got lost in the shuffle. When Brian committed in 2004 he was automatically made the backup quarterback to Stefan Lefors. Justin understood the circumstances and had no choice but to transfer after the spring. He took his talents to James Madison where he immediately led the team to a 1-AA National Championship. All of his former teammates were rooting for him. He is now the offensive coordinator at KCD in Louisville where he has done a great job for Coach Greene and the football program.
Bill Ashburn (2004-2008) – Bill was the third string quarterback and the backup to Hunter Cantwell in the 2006 Gator Bowl. He came very close to playing that game. He made his biggest impact though as a holder and did a great job filling in for Harry Douglas when Harry was hurt in 2007. I also caused a bit of a controversy during practice in 2007 when I broke the kicker’s rule of never blaming the holder. I had missed two kicks during our hurry up field goal drill and blamed Bill for spinning the ball as I was making impact. I used some choice words and for a while the quarterback/kicker relationship was damaged. Even though Bill and I patched things up after practice, the quarterbacks wouldn’t let it go. I heard about it for a few days.
Adam Froman/Justin Burke/Will Stein – these guys have played their butts off the last two years and even though I don’t know them that well, I have heard nothing but great things about them. Will Stein gained a lot of respect from the former players with his performances last year and earned a well deserved scholarship before the season. He also plays a pretty good guitar. Burke and Froman have been great leaders this year and have had some signature games, Froman against Memphis and Burke on the road against Syracuse.
Thoughts on Last Week:
-Loved the call by Charlie Strong to go for it in overtime, case closed. I liked it because he trusted his guys to get the one-yard needed.
-I spent a good amount of time thinking about the icing the kicker decision in which the coaches make the timeout call the split second before the ball is snapped. I was iced a few times in college but never to where I got to kick the ball first and then had to kick it again. I think from that distance it would be harder to make the second kick after making the first. It is much easier to shank one, learn from your mistake, and drill the next one. I haven’t done any research or analysis on the subject, but when I do I will get back to you. Also, Charlie celebrating after the icing worked was awesome.
-I heard that the locker room was crushed after the game, which is a really, really good sign. This team expects to win each time the ball is teed up, which is something that has not happened the last couple of years.
Thoughts on the West Virginia – Louisville rivalry
-Morgantown was a tough place to fly into, so in 2005 we flew to Pittsburgh and then drove to outside the West Virginia state line where we stayed the night before the game.
-The 2005 game was not decided by us knocking out Adam Bednarik. Yes it changed the dynamics of West Virginia’s offense and Pat White gave them all the momentum they would need (for that game and the next three years), but we had far too many opportunities on offense and defense to win that game. The no call on the onside kick didn’t help either.
-I almost missed the first extra point to tie the game in overtime. Harry put the ball down laces in (which I am convinced he liked to do just to mess with me) and I hooked it right. As the ball left my foot I had a sinking feeling that it was no good. I looked up, saw the ball inside the right upright, and my heart came out of my throat. I turned to Harry and as I gave him a little dap he said "Don’t you ever do that to me again!!!" He later said from his perspective on the ground he thought I had missed it as well.
-The walk back to the locker room was not fun, they were playing "Country Roads" by John Denver and the whole place was going nuts. To make it worse, the visitor’s locker room was right next to the WVU weight room and locker room, so we could hear them celebrating the whole time.
-My grandfather and dad came to the game in 2005 and the next day they were driving back to Pittsburgh to fly out when on the radio they heard an ad for a law firm in Morgantown that said: "If you lose your hunting guns and or hunting licenses due to arrests or domestic abuse, we can get your licenses reinstated." True story.
-In 2006 after the Syracuse game Coach Petrino got a big smile on his face and said, "Now we can talk about West Virginia." He wouldn’t let us mention the game before that and the leaders of that team did a great job of keeping every focused. Later on in the week after a practice he would get real animated and say that the coaching staff had been preparing for this game since the end of the previous season. That they had wanted this game, and that we would finish. There was no way we were going to lose this game. It was the most electric I think the city had ever been in anticipation for a football game. The cardmarch that night was incredible and to have the whole nation watching was why college football is such a great sport. There were so many great highlights from that game but my favorite was the Trent Guy punt return for a touchdown. I love big special teams plays and Trent made one that night. It was a signature win for the football program.
My Most Embarrassing moment as a Card:
2005 Pittsburgh at Louisville, Thursday night ESPN game. The night we first wore the black jerseys. We had been planning a fake field goal for weeks and the coaches thought that this would be the perfect game to run it. The offense had been stopped in the first quarter at that the eight-yard line. Coach Petrino gave me the call and the fake was on. The fake was a simple option play, I would break left and Harry would be the QB. All week I had caught every toss from Harry and felt really good about it.
The ball was snapped and Harry and I broke left. The whole Pittsburgh defense collapsed on Harry and he pitched it to me. There I was, chance to score a touchdown, take the ball into the endzone for six. Problem was I never caught the ball. The ball hit off my hands and rolled out of bounds. I couldn’t believe it. I made the long jog back to the sidelines where our assistant strength coach Tim Socha had some words of encouragement for me. With a big smile on his face he said, "look at the bright side, now that you fumbled the coaching staff will never, ever call that play again." Kirk Herbstreit and Mike Tirico couldn’t understand why they would pitch the ball to a kicker. I went on to kick four field goals that night and at one point Herbstreit said that I had redeemed myself for the drop. However, we watched film a few days later and I would have walked in for a touchdown. Everyone executed it perfectly except for me and I blew my only chance to score a touchdown.
-Also, if anyone remembers my onside kick against Syrcause in 2007, that was another great performance. Down by three Coach Kragthorpe called for the "dribble" onside kick, where I would kick the ball, let it roll ten yards, and I would fall on it. I ran up to kick the ball, tapped it, and it barely went one inch. The ball just sat there by the kickoff tee and everyone was running downfield. I put my hands to my helmet in disbelief that I had actually kicked the ball one inch. It made Sportscenter that night, real proud of that.
I looked forward to the West Virginia game each year that I played and now as a fan I look forward to it even more.