Louisville/ Murray State; It was what it was

As I walked from the Stadium to the green lot, where Indie's potato wedges and chicken wings were waiting to soak up the overpriced beers I had consumed, I heard several fans in full-on panic mode. " Better enjoy that one, cause it's probably the only win we'll get this year" or, the obligatory "We suck!" I know that some people who read the Chronicle share some of those same sentiments; and, I'd just like to say that I think everyone needs to calm down and put that game into the proper context. Step back from the ledge,.. take a deep breath,.... and listen to a voice of reason.

On the defense: First of all, if you weren't pleased with the performance of the defense last night then you're expectations are a little unreasonable and you might need to ingest a frozen Tylenol, or two. Scruggs barely played but when he did he looked dominant (appeared to be un-blockable at times and notched his first sack of 2011). The secondary, which is supposed to be the weakest link of the defense, held Brockman to 148 passing yards, ZERO touchdowns, and the defense (as a whole) picked him 3 times. Just so ya know,.... Brockman put up XBOX-like numbers last year and only threw 6 picks vs. 15 touchdowns. The Louisville defense had 8 interceptions in 2010 for the entire year,....THE ENTIRE YEAR. The DBs were only out of position a few times and they often found the ball while it was in the air (in time to make a play); and, overall they tackled very well. The Hal Mummie offense, which Murray was running, is predicated on throwing wide and hoping a DB misses a tackle, something which our DBs didn't do very often last night.

In with the good air,........ out with the bad.....

Other than that, on defense, you have to take into account all that was missing from the field. The #1 defensive end was banged up and played a very limited amount of snaps, while the other starter at DE didn't play at all. The starting nose tackle and the backup defensive tackle didn't play at all. That's a whole lot of missing snaps from group of guys who are supposed to be our best linemen. Also, take into consideration that Adrian Bushell didn't play last night either. If he's as good as advertised (fingers crossed), he will have a huge impact on this defense from both a personnel and scheme standpoint. Having a "lock-down corner" allows you to do things with your play calling that you couldn't do otherwise.


On the offense: Ok,.. I'll admit that the offensive line looked less than stellar. There were plays when you wondered whether or not they knew who they were supposed to block; and, there were plays when they didn't seem like they were blocking anyone. However, there were also several running plays where they blew the other guys off the ball (like Victor Anderson's touchdown). There were even more plays where the line did a good job of blocking but the backs flat out missed gaping holes or cut back lanes. You certainly have to take into consideration that Mario Benvinedes didn't play. I've got to believe that he would have been good for (at the very least) a few more "CARDS FIRST DOWNS" and, probably another score..... maybe two. Not only is that guy a monster with more game experience than the rest of the line combined, he's the starting center. Which means he makes all the calls, which means he gets the other linemen into the right protections; and, he's on the Remmington trophy watch list (for the best center in the nation) so yeah...... he's pretty good at what he does.

On Will: Stein wasn't nearly as bad as I've heard people making him out to be. First of all, he's not they type of QB who's going to go all Aaron Rodgers out there and make one ridiculous throw after another to win the game for you; but, neither were the guys under center last year. Much like Froman and Burke, Will "Sunny Stein" is going to have to be a game manager, and I thought he did a good job of that last night. You could tell that the timing between him and his receivers was a little off but that will improve with more "game speed" reps. There were also several plays where Stein and his receiver were on a completely different page; again,.... these things are to be expected in the first game. Especially with so many inexperienced players on the field.

Even with the miscues between Will and some of the receivers, the talent of that group was on display. Devante Parker looked like a man among boys, Bellamy looked razor sharp until he went out(?), Harris looks like a speed demon, and Radcliff looked like a young Wes Welker. Chichester, who I will not be referring to as "Chi-Daddy" until he shows me more, still looks like he's having trouble catching the ball but so did several other players (not Parker, that kid is an absolute S-T-U-D). So I'm going to chalk that, along with all the fumbles, up to first game nerves.

On Teddy: I was pretty disappointed that he only got the one series. It wasn't his fault that the left tackle jumped twice in a row; and, (to me) it appeared that the coaching staff took entirely too long to get the play in to him on the delay of game penalty. In any event, 1st and 25 is not a good way to start the first drive of your college career and 3rd and 17 is an even worse down and distance to attempt your first collegiate pass. Like I said, I was pretty disappointed that he didn't get another series. The score was still 21-0 on the drive after the pick, and stayed at 21-3 until the 4th quarter. Not gonna question Charlie, because he just might send Pat Moorer to rip my arms off and beat me to death with them, but the offense had stalled and TB-5's ability to make plays with his legs could have been exactly the spark it needed.

In with the good air,..... out with the bad.......

All I'm saying is this: if you left a stadium, bar, or living room hanging your head last night thinking that what you saw was as good as it's going to get...... then you don't have nearly enough faith in the players who didn't play; or, the coaching staff's ability to foster growth/ improvement in the ones who did. Have faith, remember how evident the improvement was from game to game last year. If you have tickets then get there early next week and be loud, I will. This group will improve and make you proud to be a Cardinal Fan, so get out there and support them.


With that being said,... that growth better come pretty fast, and the training staff better get some of those players back onto the field before Friday night; because FIU will have a lot more speed and talent than Murray State did. They return 15 starters from a team that won the Sun Belt last year and they're the overall favorite to win it again this year. Injuries and inexperience can reek havoc on a team. Even more so on one that is in the process of rebuilding; but, I have faith in this staff. Whether this team gets Mario and the other players from the defensive line back next week or not, I can all but guarantee you a couple of things, based on what I saw last year. You will see less miscues between QBs and WRs, the offensive line will look a lot more cohesive as a unit, the DBs will take another step in the right direction, the running backs will do a better job of holding onto the ball, and we should win this game with or without the missing players.


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