If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck. Louisville Football entered 2015 in the midst of a major rebuilding process with question marks surrounding the two most important components of a team, quarterback and offensive line. The goals were to steal a few tough games and contend for an ACC Championship, mission not accomplished. However, the season has been a tremendous learning experience for the freshmen and sophomores. We received our answers to the questions enveloping the quarterback and o-line immediately and they were answers none of us wanted.
The Cardinals are simply an average football team; good enough to beat the bad, bad enough to lose to the good, and ugly enough to incite fits of rage. The major goal for every team is to end the year on a positive note building hope for the future. It is do or die week for the 2015 Cardinals, beat Kentucky, or else.
The hottest debate amongst Cardinal supporters and the coaches continues to be the quarterback position. Lamar Jackson is the future face of this program and should be named the permanent starter when bowl practices begin. His arm is better than Bolin's, his athleticism is unrivaled in most of football, he is 18, and has gained invaluable experience. Jackson's goal is to learn every page of the playbook frontwards and backwards, master his footwork, and in the name of all things holy figure out how to play under center. When the 2016 season begins, Jackson should be a complete quarterback and essentially a seasoned veteran.
With that being said, Kyle Bolin should start Saturday against Kentucky. The Cardinals have played their best football with Bolin when facing bad football teams. UK is a bad football team that is also poorly coached. Our rivals rank 57th in total defense, 61st in scoring defense, and most important to Louisville, 89th in rushing defense. The Cardinals have dominated games when they can establish the run and Kyle's ability to go under center has produced Louisville's best rushing attack. Bolin should get the chance to establish the run during Saturday's cold and rainy contest, but if the offense doesn't deliver Lamar will be willing and able to run wild against the mildcats.
Big Blue Nation proudly frequents the Kentucky State Fair to create homemade t-shirts pronouncing that Louisville doesn't exist. Surprisingly to them and to a large portion of their fan base that calls the River City home, Louisville does exist, but for a period of 30 minutes in Pittsburgh the Cardinal Defense magically evaporated into thin air. The secondary continues to have its moments of embarrassment and even made Pitt's quarterback look like Joe Montania. Grantham's unit has been a roller coaster during 2015, byt that roller coaster is starting to run off track. The defense helped secure key victories, yet, in the team's biggest moments Grantham's side of the ball has often been a major disappointment.
Grantham and those around him have done phenomenal on the recruiting trail, but there needs to be a major focus on fundamentals during the offseason. Also, with Louisville's inconsistent defensive efforts there shouldn't be too many NFL defections. Grantham's job is not in jeopardy if he delivers against UK and restrains their stagnant offense in the same manner Louisville's defense held down Clemson, Samford, Syracuse, Wake Forest, Boston College, and N.C. State. Kentucky has been held to 21 points or less six times in 2015. If Louisville can make it seven, a bowl game won't be in the Cards for Stoops.
2015 hasn't been a season for the dreamers, but the dumpster-fire-suicidals among us need to extinguish their negativity. The writing was on the wall before kickoff in Atlanta and a strong foundation has been built for a successful future. If 2015 is to be deemed a success, the Cardinals must defeat Kentucky and prevent our beloved brothers in blue from attending their first bowl game since 2010. The mission is clear, beat UK and have a hell of a lot of fun doing it.
All Hail UofL !!
P.S. No one hates Kentucky as much as our head man Bobby Petrino. You can sleep well at night because Petrino won't sleep until Saturday after he extends his UL record to 6-0 versus UK.