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Tuesday Afternoon Cardinal News and Notes

Vaida Maye Just wasn't about to miss the start of the football season ... or the two straight weeks of tailgating.

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I_medium Pat Forde has Louisville-Auburn as the 17th-most intriguing game of the 2015 college football season.

17. Louisville vs. Auburn in Atlanta, Sept. 5. On paper it's a legitimate but manageable opening opponent for the Tigers. Then you factor in Bobby Petrino's record in season openers - a perfect 10-0. And then you wonder where things stand with problem-child Auburn receiver D'haquille Williams - one of just four returning offensive starters for Gus Malzahn. This could be tougher than it looks for the Tigers.

I_medium Somewhat surprisingly (to me at least), James Burgess was the lone Cardinal honored on ESPN's All-ACC team. Sheldon Rankins should have gotten a nod.

I_medium James Quick says Shaq Wiggins is "a ghost."

"I call Shaq a ghost," Quick said. "He's always behind me, and he's always going to knock the ball down."

Wiggins started eight games as a true freshman at Georgia in 2013, then sat out last year as a practice player for Louisville, so this is his third season in current U of L and former UGA coordinator Todd Grantham's defense.

"He's comfortable," Quick said. "He knows what he's doing. He knows his place. He can sit there and play back or play close and still be the cornerback that you need on your defense."

I_medium College hoops coaches weigh in anonymously to say that Rick Pitino is the second best defensive coach in college basketball, trailing only Virginia's Tony Bennett.

I_medium Scarf game 100.

I_medium Bobby Petrino not naming a quarterback has left Auburn preparing for multiple styles ... which I suppose is sort of his intention.

"I think the biggest thing is the unknown at quarterback because there's such a drastic difference between the guys that have played for them a year ago," Muschamp said. "You've got a quarterback (Bonnafon) that throws the ball well and also has legs. You got to account for the running game. And you've got a quarterback (Gardner) that's not as mobile but certainly throws the ball extremely well.

"I'm sure (Petrino) won't let us know before the game who's starting so we'll have to prepare for both of them and be ready to go."


Where the contrasting styles of quarterbacks can have a big impact is on Auburn's linebackers and secondary, as Muschamp decides whether to play a Nickel corner or strong-side linebacker against certain formations if a mobile quarterback puts more stress on the second level of the defense.

Auburn has worked JaViere MitchellJustin Garrett and Jeff Holland among the Sam linebackers and Josh Holsey, Blake Countess and Tim Irvin at the Nickel spot.

I_medium The Jacksonville Jaguars waived Damian Copeland (who had been sidelined with a shoulder injury) on Monday.

I_medium Not bad company.

I_medium Mangok Mathiang describing Chinanu Onuaku as having a "gold medal swagger" is one of my favorite lines of the summer.

"(Onuaku) took the whole summer and worked on his game," said Mathiang, who shared the center position with Onuaku last season.

"He's got a gold medal swagger on him right now. The sky's the limit. Nobody can touch him. The way he's finding people, the way he's passing, the way he's rebounding -- everything about 'Nanu right now is exactly what we wanted with him coming back."

Onuaku's impressive finish to the FIBA World Championships helped him jump into the early 2016 mock NBA drafts from ESPN and The Maryland native is projected as the No. 27 overall pick on both sites -- a first-round selection.

That is a far cry from five months ago, when U of L coach Rick Pitino left Onuaku out of his end-of-season comments on which returning players he was excited about for this coming season. That omission, intentional or not, led to speculation that Onuaku would transfer from Louisville.

Pitino said the young Onuaku had a "long way to go," criticizing his conditioning, maturity and work ethic. But Pitino also said Onuaku was capable of making progress.

After watching Onuaku play for gold with Team USA this summer, Pitino raved about his development, saying the experience helped Onuaku understand that every college coach will be hard on him, not just U of L's staff. Onuaku had gotten off to a rough start at the World Championships, but Pitino said he called him while he was in Greece and told him to, in putting this kindly, shape up or miss out on a great opportunity.

"They were having problems with him," Pitino said in July. "In the end, he helped them win a gold medal. He was a direct factor in that game for them winning a gold medal. They could've lost the gold medal if it wasn't for 'Nanu. It helped him mature because ... he wasn't doing things the right way. At the end, he did things the right way and was rewarded with a gold medal."

I_medium There are no Cardinals featured on ESPN's list of the biggest comeback stories in the ACC this season.

I_medium U of L catcher Colby Fitch gets some love from Baseball America.

I_medium Be nice to them. Kindness is all they know.

I_medium Eric Crawford says Damion Lee and Trey Lewis are both wasting no time in their only year as Cardinals.

"Everything we say about Louisville first and play for the front, these guys, it didn't even have to be explained to them," Pitino said. "It's almost like they were born a Louisville basketball player in the way they're thinking."

Lewis, who arrived early in the summer, immediately became a central figure on the team. If you see a group of Cardinal basketball players hanging around, he's likely to be in the middle of it.

Pitino heard accounts of Lewis' work with the Cardinals' younger players and said he was "blown away," because he hadn't really asked the Cleveland State transfer to do some of the things he was doing.

Talking about himself and Lee, Lewis said, "There's a sense of urgency for him and me. We know we only have one year. Every day, we're talking about how we can become better. We're stepping into this ready to go from Day 1. That was our mindset. I think you could see that. . . . And we know it has to be about the whole team. We need every guy in this locker room to be his best, and they need us."

Lewis has been a shooting guard for most of his career, but he is trying to acquire a point-guard's mindset, especially as regards Lee.

"I'm learning where to get him, where he likes to shoot from," Lewis said. "We're just trying to learn from each other, and about how to fit into the picture with everyone else. I feel like I can't let a day go by without learning something."

I_medium All of the sudden, Kentucky football is hemorrhaging players.

I_medium I enjoy this preview summary of SB Nation's, uh, preview of the ACC.


Biggest game: Florida State at Clemson, November 7

Player to always watch: Jalen Ramsey, Florida State's everywhere man

Team nobody wants to play: Pitt

Coach who really needs wins: Al Golden, Miami

Don't be surprised if ... Louisville and Virginia Tech meet in Charlotte.

I_medium Louisville field hockey will begin the 2015 season ranked No. 12 in the country.

I_medium Super Cardinal yard fan Charles Blair is at it again just in time for football season.

I_medium The U of L women's soccer team opened its 2015 season with a 2-1 win over Wright State, and then a 2-1 loss to Washington.

I_medium We rip on Tom Crean a lot, and understandably so, but this Indianapolis Star longform piece on all the good he does around the Bloomington area is very cool.

I_medium A lot of people have sent me this in the last few days.

I don't know what this is, outside of just one of those weird things that Adult Swim does, but I can't get it out of my head.

I_medium Jeff Greer says that the planned Louisville-Memphis series is unlikely to happen, and also lays out what we know about the Cards' non-conference schedule for this season:


Nov. 9 - Kentucky Wesleyan (exh.)

Nov. 13 - Samford

Nov. 17 - Hartford (Brooklyn Hoops Classic)

Nov. 21 - North Florida (Brooklyn Hoops Classic)

Nov. 24 - St. Francis (NY) (Brooklyn Hoops Classic)

Nov. 28 - Saint Louis (Barclays Center, Brooklyn)

Dec. 2 - at Michigan State (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)

Dec. 5 - Grand Canyon

Dec. 12 - Eastern Michigan

Dec. 16 - Kennesaw State

Dec. 19 - Western Kentucky

Dec. 22 - UMKC (Billy Minardi Classic)

Dec. 23 - Utah Valley (Billy Minardi Classic)

Dec. 26 - at Kentucky

Expect the full Louisville schedule to be released at some point within the next two weeks.

I_medium Attention any UofL fans interested in running the Rugged Maniac Obstacle Race at Paoli Peaks in Southern Indiana on September 19th: you can now get 20 percent off the price to run simply by using the promo code "CCBM."

Rugged Maniac and we are one of the largest obstacle course races in the country targeting those who love fun, fitness, and festivals. Participants get to tackle obstacles such as bouncing on trampolines, jumping over fire, crawling through underground tunnels, and rocketing down a 50' water slide. The 5-kilometer races also include a large daylong festival filled with music, activities, food and plenty of beer. For more information or to sign up, go here.

I_medium Steve Jones ranks his top 10 Louisville football players and has Sheldon Rankins at No. 1.

I_medium Auburn is now fully turning its attention to an expected "dogfight" against Louisville.

"We're expecting a dogfight," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "We're playing a top 25-type team."

Louisville was rocked by the NFL Draft as 11 players went pro, leaving the nation's sixth-ranked defense with six holes to fill, but there's still plenty of experience in the two-deep depth chart.

"They attack you," Malzahn said. "They were great on interceptions, turnovers, and they were great on sacking the quarterback. They put a lot of pressure on offenses."

The defensive line is especially concerning for the Tigers. Defensive end Sheldon Rankins returns, and while his stats were impressive in 2014, a deeper dig by Pro Football Focus' team of analysts reveals the season may have been underrated last season. Their study discovered the defensive end should have been credited with 24 quarterback hurries instead of two, leading the website to name him the ACC's best returning player.

The Cardinals also received an on-the-field boost with the addition of Devonte Fields, a former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and added SEC experience in the secondary with the arrivals of Georgia transfers Josh Harvey-Clemons and Shaq Wiggins.

"We'll have to tighten up for that bunch," Auburn offensive line coach J.B. Grimes said. "They've got a good football team and I know how well-coached they are. That will be a well-coached, well-prepared football team."

I_medium And finally, if you missed our interview with Rick Pitino from yesterday you can listen to it here. And brace yourselves for the final Twitter Tuesday of the offseason today from 3-6 on 93.9. Ish is gonna get wild.