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Friday Afternoon Cardinal News and Notes

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The best part of the first week of school is the first weekend. Collin, Talan and Myles will tell you the same thing.

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I_medium Despite the losses, Rick Pitino remains steadfast in his belief that this trip to Puerto Rico will have an overwhelmingly positive impact on his Louisville team.

I_medium This is certainly worth a look:

I_medium U of L baseball has wrapped up an overwhelmingly successful summer and will now begin its march towards a national title in 2016.

I_medium Devonte Fields met with the media for the first time Thursday afternoon and spoke at length about how thankful he is for this opportunity.

"Words can't even explain how appreciative I am of this second chance," Fields said during his first interview since arriving in Louisville. "I want to make the best of my opportunity and try to get my degree as well. I'm just thankful that I'm here."

Fields, a former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year whose legal case was recently dropped, said he expects to be under public scrutiny this season in his return to college football, but he is focused on a bright future and not his critics.

"I'm pretty sure I'll hear a lot about (his history at TCU), but that really don't matter," said Fields, who spent last season at Trinity Valley junior college in Texas. "That's all behind me, and I'm moving forward. (Over the past year) I heard all type of negative things, but I also was told not to pay attention to all that because it doesn't matter. All that was in the past, and I'm moving forward."

Asked if he felt he has been portrayed unfairly in the past year, Fields said: "Everyone has their own opinion, so I can't fault them for that. I did make a mistake, but that's in the past. I'm moving forward."

I_medium It's all Insider, but ESPN's Chad Ford has Chinanu Onuaku at No. 27 in his latest mock draft.

I_medium The Greatest. Hardly home but always reppin'.

I_medium We mentioned in Tuesday's news and notes that Chane Behnan was apparently a member of the team that won the 2015 Dirt Bowl over the weekend, but apparently he's also making a local splash by working as a commercial actor for a Brownsboro Rd. tailoring service.

I_medium David Hale's 2015 preview of Louisville is up on ESPN.com.

Best-case scenario: As usual, Clemson and Florida State hog the bulk of the Atlantic hype, and even NC State has grabbed the "dark horse" label. But Louisville is still quietly lurking beneath the radar with a team easily capable of winning the division. The opener against Auburn will be a true litmus test, but a 9-2 or 10-1 run the rest of the way wouldn't be out of the question regardless.

Worst-case scenario: The defense takes a step back without its departed stars, no QB emerges from the pack and the offense can't find a weapon to replace DeVante Parker. If all that happens, it could be a long year in Louisville -- but still would probably equate to six wins and a bowl berth.

I_medium This Twitter exchange might be the highlight of my summer:

I_medium We talked earlier this week about Peyton Siva signing a new professional deal in Italy, but apparently he wasn't the only former Cardinal to do so as Rakeem Buckles followed suit. Additionally, Jared Swopshire is actually starting his professional career (as a player) after inking a deal with a professional team in the Czech Republic.

I_medium Mark your calendars for Oct. 17 and help out a good cause before the Florida State game.

I_medium According to Business Insider, U of L ranks No. 9 in the country when it comes to colleges with the most school spirit.

I_medium Sports Illustrated has a bracket of the best NCAA Tournament Cinderellas of all-time.

I_medium For anyone who wasn't convinced that Bompy must be stopped, I present to you this:

I_medium Louisville checks in at No. 7 in TNIAAM's ACC power rankings based on local breweries.

7. Louisville

If this list was based on bourbon, Louisville would be tops. And the same could be said if this list were also based on just one beer, too. Against the Grain, attached to the Louisville Bats' minor league park, brews the excellent Bo & Luke, a hefty, 13-percent ABV Russian Imperial Stout that you should probably go ahead and split with a friend. The bourbon notes are all over it, and it drinks like a beer with half the alcohol. Heading elsewhere after consuming that delicious masterpiece, Cumberland Brews is also worth your while. Bonus selection, because it's Louisville and you probably want bourbon too:Haymarket is an excellent bourbon dive bar. Have at it.

I_medium The U of L women's basketball game against Kentucky in Rupp Arena has been set for Thursday, Dec. 10.

I_medium Here's the complete Q&A from Rick Pitino after Thursday night's game.

I_medium Make a move.

I_medium After a rough rookie season, it's nice to hear that Marcus Smith's sophomore campaign in Philly is off to a better start.

I_medium Steve Jones says Josh Harvey-Clemons, Pio Vatuvei, Shaq Wiggins, Trevon Young and Lamar Jackson stood out to him above all other players during the open practices.

I_medium The new U of L freshman class has the highest average ACT score in school history. Use those brains and don't jump in the baby pool, kids.

I_medium Here's the before:

And the after:

I'm sure he thought it was cool.

I_medium Snoop Dogg's son is leaving UCLA, and suddenly the Pac-12 is hemorrhaging children of rap stars.

I_medium If you're heading to Atlanta, the Red Rage Tailgate folks would like to hang with you, eat with you, and potentially give you a tailgating MVP trophy on Sept. 5.

I_medium You should have already known about Louisville's water.

I_medium Three-star running back commit Malik Staples is taking an official visit to Oregon State, and doesn't sound especially set on becoming a Cardinal.

Despite a commitment to Louisville, the bruising running back insists his feelings about Oregon State haven't changed.

"(It's the) same as before, I'm still very high of them because of the awesome staff and program they have going on right now," he said. "Great school also."

Somewhat cryptically, Staples also added that he still has doubts about where he will be playing his college football.

"I'm still committed to Louisville, but at the end of the day I need to find the best college for me in the next 4 years of my life," he said. "I mean, it's a verbal commitment which internally means nothing until you sign the paper. But don't get me wrong, I love Louisville. I just want to make sure I choose the right school for me because this is going to probably one of the biggest decisions of my life, so I'm open to all colleges so I can evaluate each one."

I_medium The Atlanta Falcons have waived Terrell Floyd.

I_medium Senorise Perry produced the two biggest plays of the game for the Chicago Bears in their preseason opener.

I_medium If you're not following the Mr. Quackers (Russ Smith's cat) Instagram and Twitter accounts, well, then I'm sorry you hate art.

How are we ever going to explain Russ to Cardinal fans of the future? Coolest dude alive is the only place to start, I guess.

I_medium Speaking of Russ, there are just 30 tickets remaining for his "VIP Yacht Party."

I_medium We are now just three weeks away from the glorious beginning to what should be a glorious 2015-16 Louisville sports season. If you're interested in becoming an advertising partner with 93.9 The Ville for the entire ride, please shoot me an email at MikeR@espnlouisville.com. I will also accept emails at MikeRuth5@aol.com, but only ones which openly mock AOL.

I_medium Sports Illustrated has Louisville as one of six darkhorse candidates to potentially crash the college football playoff.

Louisville

After a successful debut season in the ACC, Louisville now looks to take the next step and contend for a conference title. That's no easy task in the Atlantic Division with Florida State and Clemson, but the opening is there this year. If the Cardinals can capitalize, they could play their way into the top four.

Despite returning five starters, the offense should build on its 5.1 yards per play now that it's in its second year under Bobby Petrino. When Petrino took over at Arkansas, the Razorbacks also averaged 5.1 yards per play in his first season before leaping to 6.3 in Year Two. Personnel matters, of course, but the track record for improvement is there, especially with all three quarterbacks who played last year returning in addition to the Cardinals' top rusher, Brandon Radcliff. Most of the pieces are gone from last year's elite defense (4.5 yards allowed per play), but Louisville isn't as inexperienced as would be expected thanks to transfers. Key additions like former Big 12 defensive player of the year Devonte Fields and former Georgia defensive backs Shaq Wiggins and Josh Harvey-Clemons should keep the Cardinals thriving.

Louisville has an opportunity to take down Florida State or Clemson and win the division. The Seminoles are rebounding from the loss of Jameis Winston and their running game remains up in the air due to Dalvin Cook's suspension, while Clemson's offense is heavily dependent on Deshaun Watson's health. The Cardinals also have a chance to score one of the marquee victories of the nonconference slate with their Week One matchup against Auburn. With enough key wins, Louisville could present a very compelling case to the selection committee.

I_medium The preseason bowl projections from CBS have the Cards facing Missouri in the Music City Bowl.

I_medium And finally, John Ramsey is sidelined today so I'll be flying the ship solo from 3-6 on 93.9 The Ville. We'll have an update from Puerto Rico and Terry Friggin' Rozier on at 5 p.m., so you'll want to be listening.