Apologies for not getting to this sooner, but I've been preoccupied over the last 48 hours with stuff for the new gig at the dot com. I thought about skipping this entirely, but then realized I'd rather lose an appendage than continue to talk about conference realignment.
Louisville was favored to beat Kentucky in every meeting between 2001 and 2008, which means we haven't experienced an "upset" victory over our arch-rivals to the East in quite some time.
To put it mildly, it was cool.
None of us had ever had to deal with an extended period of Kentucky supremacy until the past four years, and it's something I hope we never have to go through again. It's a sentiment shared by Charlie Strong, apparently, as several of the players mentioned after the game that Strong had told the team that Kentucky would never beat Louisville again.
I'm good with that.
As far as individual performances are concerned, there's nowhere to start other than Teddy Bridgewater.
I'm not joking when I say that the freshman's play on Saturday might have been the best sign we've seen as far as the future of Louisville football is concerned since the hiring of Charlie Strong. It's one thing to read all the praise for a recruit or to watch his highlight film or even to see him in practice, but to actually watch Teddy Bridgewater step onto the field in about as pressure-packed a situation as there is for a Cardinal football player and to perform the way he did; I was blown away.
There wasn't one second where Bridgewater looked rattled or unsure or...like a freshman. I went from being terrified of the situation to having complete faith in the span of two series. He made three tremendous throws downfield, never forced the issue when it wasn't there, made great plays with his feet, and really only made one "freshman decision" (not throwing the ball away once early in the 3rd quarter), and it wasn't especially egregious.
I was excited about the future before Saturday, but watching Bridgewater in extended action for the first time took that excitement to the next level. We will be in the mix for the Big East title next season.
Gotta love the Scruggs.
The Island tweeted that pic under the caption "Go Cats" after the game, and has since been thoroughly harassed by UK fans on Twitter. He doesn't seem especially bothered by it. Of course why would he be? His last game against Kentucky will always be a victory.
A gigantic tip of the cap to the members of the coaching staff who made the decision to utilize Dominique Brown in all the ways they did. Victor Anderson has reverted to his old habit of dancing around the line and Jeremy Wright suddenly has a case of the fumbles, so Brown coming out-of-nowhere to be U of L's incredibly reliable power back could not have happened at a better time.
Strong said after the game that you can't have a guy like Dom on the sidelines, and I couldn't agree more. If we're talking difference-makers on Saturday, then Brown has got to be right at the top of that list.
Odds that the UK whistle blower was going to be overweight and wearing a camo hat? Nine-thousand percent?
Someone sent me the link to his Facebook page that I think most people have seen by now, and yes, he's everything any of us could want him to be and more.
He also cost Stephon Ball like 20 yards.
Most underrated play of the game: Stephan Robinson's strip on the final drive. If that play doesn't happen Kentucky has a first down and four shots at the endzone from just outside the 10-yard-line. If the Cats do end up punching it in, then they have all the momentum in the world (not to mention the home crowd) heading into overtime.
The converted wide receiver could not have made a bigger play at a bigger time.
Love my Dex.
A lot of people predicted he would have a monster senior year, and I think his production's only going to increase.
How good was Adrian Bushell? That kid was everywhere.
After seeing him, Andrew Johnson (who only has a high-ankle sprain) and some of the other young guns in the secondary this season, I don't think the weakness of the defensive backfield will be something discussed as thoroughly heading into next season as it was this past summer.
I think I'm still a little hungover.
Brian Griese continuing to pin the whistle blowing on the U of L band after the cameras had just shown whistle guy being escorted out of the game and actually GIVING HIS WHISTLE to the authorities might have been the most mad I got all night. And this was a Louisville/Kentucky game so that's saying a great deal.
DeVante Parker: The one-sided love affair continues.
I'm telling you, All-Everything by the time he's a junior.
I still can't believe how thoroughly our defensive line manhandled the UK front five. Holding Kentucky to less than 40 yards rushing wasn't something I would have predicted on even the sunniest of mornings last week.
I think we all drastically underestimated the impact Roy Philon and B.J. Butler have on this defense. Butler came up huge on a handful of blitzes where we needed him to get to Morgan Newton, and there was a period of time where Philon pretty much took the game over up front.
Another huge reason to be optimistic about the season going forward.
After people had started to toss "sophomore slump" around, it was great to see Hakeem Smith snap out of it and play three really great quarters of football.
When you outrush an opponent by almost 150 yards, a lot of the credit has to go to the offensive line. You have to feel good for Louisville's front five for performing the way they did after a week where I'm sure they heard about their poor play against FIU nearly everywhere they turned.
The young guys really stepped it up at a time where the team would have been helpless if they didn't. Also, a tip of the cap to Kamran Joyer for filling in nicely at left guard after John Miller went down. Strong said after the game that he doesn't think Miller's injury was too serious, and let's hope that's the case because the true freshman has been very good so far.
Was very impressed with the Cardinal contingent at Commonwealth, both in terms of size and audibility. Props to all of you who made the trip to Lexington.
The long-term ramifications of this victory are pretty clear, but as far as this year goes, I don't think it's a stretch to call this a season-saving victory. It might seem silly considering it was a touchdown victory over a Kentucky team that barely managed to sneak by Western Kentucky (which was blasted by D-2 Indiana State on Saturday) and Central Michigan (which just received a similar beatdown from Western Michigan), but this was a highly emotional victory and it would have been an equally deflating loss.
Especially with a team that's so young, you can't put a value on the impact of going into a rowdy stadium and winning a game the players know is one of the biggest on the schedule.
West Virginia and South Florida both appear to be tall tasks for the Cards (doesn't help that each is on the road), but I'd still venture to say that three weeks into the season, there isn't one game on Louisville's schedule that appears overwhelmingly "unwinnable."
These guys are only going to get better. I think saying Saturday was "just the beginning" is a true statement on a number of levels.