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Friday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

'Sup, Steel City?

I_medium Spread check: Pittsburgh by 2.

I_medium It's officially the Friday of a road game weekend.

Can't believe we've only got two of these left.

I_medium Louisville checks in at No. 25 in Fox Sports' college hoops power rankings.

I_medium Congratulations to James Burgess, who has accepted an invitation to play in this year's East-West Shrine Game.

I_medium Keith Kelsey Sr. is understandably proud of his son's accomplishments.

For Keith Kelsey Sr., whose family travels to several U of L games, watching his son thrive and succeed at the game he loves and the same position he used to play is as rewarding as it gets.

"I'm very elated, and I'm at a loss of words about his play and his maturity," the elder Kelsey said.

Though Keith Sr. critiques his son, he also is quick to point out all the excellent work Keith Kelsey Jr. has done in becoming one of the top players on the nation's No. 14 defense.

"He's done a marvelous job," Keith Kelsey Sr. said. "He has grown tremendously as far as football knowledge, knowing the game and being a leader. I tell him, the more work you put in, the better you're going to get, and he has taken heed to it."

I_medium Louisville baseball has received a commitment from Murfreesboro, Tn. shortstop Andrew Benefield, one of the highest-rated players in the class of 2018.

I_medium According to his head coach, U of L wide receiver commit Keion Wakefield will play in top-ranked Male's state championship quarterfinal showdown with Trinity tonight.

I_medium Mick Cronin showing Scotty D some love:

I_medium Louisville swimming is dominating fools at the 2015 UofL Invitational.

I_medium I'd actually prefer it if Greg Schiano didn't say over-the-top complimentary things about Teddy Bridgewater. The man doesn't have a great track record recently.

I_medium Help Lamar Jackson and Keith Kelsey bring home some ACC hardware by voting for them here.

I_medium Louisville's running game and its offensive line are both finally coming around. Those two occurrences are not coincidental, says David Hale.

If we filter out sacks and QB runs and focus simply on the running backs, Louisville has averaged 7.05 yards per rush and 4.84 yards per rush before contact in the last two weeks, which both represent massive improvements over the first six games played against Power 5 foes (3.52 and 1.72, respectively). In fact, Louisville had almost as many rushing yards before contact from its running backs in the last two weeks (266) as it had in its first eight games (281).

And even compared to Syracuse and Virginia's average performances vs. Power 5 running backs, Louisville's yards-per-carry was 28 percent better and its yards-per-rush before contact was a whopping 56 percent better.

As the Courier-Journal notes, however, one of the big changes for the Cardinals has been fifth-year senior Aaron Epps, who has started in place of true freshman Kenny Thomas at right tackle. Indeed, Epps has made an enormous difference. In the first eight games of the season, Louisville running backs averaged 3.69 yards per carry running to the right side of the line. In the last two, they've averaged 10.35 yards.

But Epps won't be around next season, and like the rest of the Cardinals' young linemen, Thomas will need to make some massive improvements this offseason if Louisville wants to see this trend continue into 2016. For now, however, the Cardinals will be thrilled if the running game looks as sharp this week against Pitt — a team that just so happens to be allowing 3.74 yards per rush before contact to opposing Power 5 running backs, the worst rate of any defense Louisville has played so far.

I_medium The ACC Digital Network has a video on James Quick and Jamari Staples.

I_medium Is that good?

I_medium WAVE-3 outlines 10 sporting events that you should be watching this weekend.

I_medium The Louisville men's cross country team is getting ready to compete in the NCAA Championships, which will be held tomorrow at Tom Sawyer Park. It's the Cards' first appearance in the big .... run? .... since 2010.

I_medium Chinanu Onuaku isn't yet where Rick Pitino would like him to be, but he's on his way.

Some issues persist - Onuaku is still prone to commit foolish fouls and turnovers - but the workouts with his brother helped erase a lot of them. They worked out nearly every day they were together this summer, Chinanu said, including some two-a-day sessions. Arinze, who is listed at 255 pounds by his Israeli club Maccabi Tel-Aviv, pushed his little brother around.

Arinze said his little brother improved in several areas, particularly conditioning, physicality, footwork and shooting touch.

"The type of work that we did, he had no choice but to get better," Arinze said. "He was also doing drills and competing with myself and other pros, so he was able to be a part of it. He learned a lot of little things that I think have helped his game."

Onuaku started slow with Team USA. The U19 coaching staff, comprised of head coach Sean Miller (Arizona) and assistants Ed Cooley (Providence) and Archie Miller (Dayton), saw a smart, high-IQ big man loaded with potential. But they also had trouble engaging him and motivating him, Archie Miller said.

How did they fix that?

"Text Coach Pitino," Archie said, laughing.

"He wasn't doing things the right way," Pitino said in July, joking that he had a few off-the-record suggestions for Onuaku.

I_medium The latest Ken Pomeroy projections have Louisville beating North Florida tomorrow, 82-70.

I_medium The U of L women's basketball team has a date with in-state foe Western Kentucky this weekend.

I_medium The "I got your back" movement is extremely popular with the 3-year-old contingent of Cardinal fans.

New movement? Little Ones For Lee? We'll talk about it.

I_medium Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Sam Werner answers some questions about tomorrow's game.

I_medium This seems like a serious personal issue, and not one which should be revealed, let alone broadcast, publicly.

I_medium Illinois missed a dunk near the buzzer which cost them a win over Providence.

I_medium Good luck ever hearing this song without thinking about this tweet again.

Not even sorry.

I_medium The most important takeaway from Rick Pitino's radio show Thursday night is that he still plans on playing seven or eight JV games in January and February.

I_medium Athlon likes Louisville to spring the upset of Pitt tomorrow.

3. The best player on the field is likely Pitt receiver Tyler Boyd. How will he be used?

Boyd has caught nearly three times the amount of passes the next most prolific Panthers' receiver, Dontez Ford, has. Yet his yards per catch average is half that of Ford's.

Granted, it's likely the more catches a receiver has, the more he will catch shorter passes that will bring down his average. Yet one wonders if Boyd barely averaging 10 yards a catch is due to short routes or double teaming.

As such, Narduzzi has found all sorts of ways to get Boyd the ball, including rushing and returning. Last week against Duke, Boyd had eight carries against only three catches.

The dirty little secret is that while Pitt's defense has received more ink than Louisville's, the Cardinals are actually ranked higher (14th), primarily because of their ability to stop the run with ACC defensive linemen of the week Devonte Fields.

But there's a big difference between thwarting the fullback dive and being able to guard against a reverse with a receiver that has a run-pass option. Boyd's performance will likely determine the outcome of the game.

Final analysis

A lot to like on both teams. And a lot to be worried about as well. What isn't deniable is Louisville has been hotter lately.

Prediction: Louisville 24, Pitt 21

I_medium And finally, beat North Florida, then beat Pitt.