Louisville vs. North Carolina and the trip to Chapel Hill

This is horribly belated at this point, but the bulk of it is already written so it's going up. You'll cope.

We'll start with talk of the trip.

The North Carolina football trip is the perfect one to take if you have a family. The campus is gorgeous, the home fans are respectful (also kind of disinterested) and Kenan Stadium is a great place to take in a game.

I would definitely suggest flying if you have the means, though. The drive through the Virginia mountains is gorgeous and I feel lucky to have been able to take it in early autumn, but 18 hours in a car (van) over the course of three days is going to take a toll on anyone. We were about 2/3 of the way home on Sunday when one of the trip-goers finally said, "You know, nine hours is a long way to drive for a football game." We were all thinking it.

After pushing Stephan VAN Treese to his limit and making it to Chapel Hill in what had to have been world record time on Friday, our host for the weekend informed us that we would be waking up at 6 a.m. on game day. He wasn't joking. One of the ladies on the trip simply was not having it, which meant we spent about two hours eating bacon and watching the intros to late '80s/early '90s television shows while it was pitch black outside. There are worse ways to spend a morning.

If you're looking to find a late night place to eat in Chapel Hill, you're out of luck. Taco Bell there closes at 10. On Friday.

If there's any reason to occupy something for a change, it's that. Grow up, Chapel Hill.

We tailgated in this relatively cozy square parking lot that was surrounded by woods. Not only was it very aesthetically pleasing, but the seclusion led to a pretty sweet echo if you did something like, I don't know, smash your fist in anger into a tailgate table after losing a flip-off (wasn't me).

We got people's attention.

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I've never liked that sort of corny "Get 'Em Up" Louisville football song by Code Red ("Now U of L about to take it to the top, the Cardinals is on the run and can't be stopped")...unless I've been drinking at an away game tailgate, in which case it's all I want to listen to. It leaves an impression. You gotta let these people know you don't play.

I'm no worse than the third best baseball (drinking game) player you know. It was true in '05, it's true today.

When it was game time we really didn't know where we were going, so we followed some female UNC fans who had also been tailgating in the area. About half way there, one of the girls turns around, looks at my shirt and says, "Wait a minute, does that say CARDINALS!? Boo."

Apparently the bright red clothing we all were wearing and the fact that we'd told them we didn't know where we were going wasn't quite enough of a giveaway that we would not be rooting for the home team that afternoon.

We stood in the back of the Louisville section behind a group of kids a few years younger than us who were quite awesome. They knew their stuff, started every U of L cheer, and should have all expenses paid for every road trip.

I kicked over a gigantic bourbon and coke right before the second half started. People were upset. The second half was even less enjoyable than it would have been otherwise.

The Franklin Street area is very cool, although the first couple of bars we went to were pretty dead. Also, 92% of the males in the area dress and talk just like the generic unlikeable frat star character in any college movie.

The East Coast enjoys "Super Bass" far more than the rest of the country.

There is a town in Virginia named "Fancy Gap." In a related story, my list of favorite euphemisms has just been updated.

Items bought in rural West Virginia gas station: one toothbrush, one can of deodorant, two packs of lemon heads and two five-hour energy drinks. Afterward, I posed the question of whether or not anyone anywhere had ever purchased those exact same items. The consensus was no.

All in all it was a terrific weekend. Major thanks to our incredibly attractive hosts, Dr. Jennifer Stiff and Not Dr. Patrick Stiff.

The game itself was one of the more frustrating I've ever witnessed in person, and a prime example of why I think there are some strange things happening within the program. People are frustrated. This wasn't supposed to be a banner year for Louisville football, but it's so obvious at times that there's enough talent to win right now. The difference between 5-0 and 2-3 has been razor thin, and I think that's really bugging some people. It's definitely bugging me. 

This team has outgained four of its five opponents, but untimely penalties and an inability to convert inside the 30 have it heading into conference play with a losing record. That's going to frustrate anyone.

Our defensive line is good. They're really good. So great to see Marcus Smith - who came to U of L as a quarterback but embraced an initial move to linebacker - have a breakout game off the edge.

Our secondary is not good. I thought Anthony Conner did a highly commendable job on Dwight Jones, but our second and third corners look like guys who simply aren't equipped to play at this level. I know injuries, youth and messages being sent (Adrian Bushell?) are partly to blame, but there's no shortage of guys who can throw the ball in the Big East, and there's no way this team makes it back to the postseason if this unit doesn't step it up a notch.

One of the most horribly one-sided officiated Cardinal football games I can remember. The kick-catch interference call, the Teddy facemask, the offsides that should have been a false start, the questionable (at best) holding calls made in three seconds after the play had already moved past the line of scrimmage; it was all a little too much to take.

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With the exception of a few calls (first and ten draw down to scores with five minutes left?), I thought Shawn Watson did an admirable job in his OC debut. Obviously, I would have liked to have seen a few more shots downfield, but 1) Teddy wasn't getting much time to throw and 2) With DeVante out, we really don't have a big-time deep threat. I really thought Josh Bellamy would step up more than he has.

I hated not taking a shot at the endzone with nine seconds left, and I really hated it after Chris Philpott shanked the field goal attempt. You have Josh Chichester and Andrell Smith both standing out there, throw it up there and give one of them the chance to make a play. They've already proven they can do it.

Carolina's defensive line getting the better of our offensive line wasn't exactly a surprise, but seeing them do so much damage inside the tackles was disheartening. Mario Benavides did not have a great game.

Outside of the first half interception throw into double coverage, I again thought Teddy looked great. Critics are going to say it's Louisville fans wanting to believe the hype since we've only scored a total of 20 points in his two starts, but anyone with any sort of eye for football can tell that the kid has the potential to be tremendous.

Louisville has had a history of sophomore slumps at the running back position, and it's very apparent that Jeremy Wright is the latest to fall victim to the trend. I don't know what the remedy is, but someone has got to find a way to get him going.

Good to see Kamal Hogan get a touch and respond with a big gain.

Full disclosure: I didn't know who Jarel McGriff-Culver was until Saturday. My B, JMC.

Am I disappointed that we're 2-3 heading into Big East play? Yes. Am I still over-the-top pumped over the idea of getting the keg back inside an NFL Stadium? Absolutely. If we upset Cincinnati will I immediately start having crazy thoughts about winning the Big East? You know me too well.

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