It's game week in both Louisville and Miami, and the two sides made it official over the weekend by each naming their starting quarterback for the Sept. 1 season-opener at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
On the Cardinal side of things, the news was as expected, with an official release naming sophomore Will Gardner as the man cast to fill the role left behind by Teddy Bridgewater.
"I thought Will and outstanding fall camp," said head coach Bobby Petrino "He demonstrated good decision-making and executed our offense."
Gardner, a native of Douglas, Ga., replaces first-round draft pick Teddy Bridgewater, who was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the 32nd-pick in May.
Last season, Gardner played in six games as a back-up to Bridgewater. He made his collegiate debut in a 49-7 season-opening win last year versus Ohio, throwing for 61 yards and a 30-yard touchdown to Kai DeLa Cruz. He was a perfect 5-for-5 for 42 yards in a 72-0 win over FIU.
Things were a bit crazier down at The U, where true freshman Brad Kayaa got the somewhat surprising nod over senior journeyman Jake Heaps. The two had been battling for the starting job with Ryan Williams just four months removed from ACL surgery and Kevin Olsen suspended for one game following a failed drug test.
"I have no idea if he is a freshman or not," offensive coordinator James Coley said about Coley. "He acts like he is a senior. He has been extremely accurate and throwing the ball well. He might be 30 with the way he acts. He is making mistakes that veterans make against complicated looks. It is not like he is running out there and forgetting the call-that is a typical freshman mistake."
"He has poise, maturity, confidence, and he is self-assured," coach Al Golden said. "He is a guy that turned a program around in his league and won a whole bunch in a row. He is a great leader right now and doing what he needs to do."
Kaaya also has the confidence of his teammates.
"He's really conducted himself as a vet," left tackle Ereck Flowers said. "He knows the plays. He still is learning more stuff, but since I've been here of all the freshmen that have came in, he's been the most mature. If you just looked at him, I would expect him to at least be a sophomore the way he is just coming in the summer, not even in the spring. I think he's going to be really good."
The news has also made national headlines thanks to the revelation that Kayaa's mother, Angela Means-Kayaa, played the role of Felicia in the '90s comedy classic Friday. Kayaa's role in the film was minor, but Ice Cube's "bye Felicia" line has emerged as a fairly major Internet meme over the last couple of years.
As for Brad Kayaa the player, he was a four-star recruit whom Rivals had tabbed as the No. 8 quarterback in the class of 2014. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound quarterback from West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade Prep chose UM despite there already being six quarterbacks on the roster at the time of his commitment. Now, that commitment has been rewarded sooner than Kayaa himself probably ever thought was possible.