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Bye Week Ramblings: Isn't This Enough?

Random Thoughts On 2016 Season So Far

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Had a couple minutes and some thoughts about Louisville Football, so here they are in no particular order:

  1. Because of my job I come into contact with people from across the country, and a lot of people who are big college football fans.  As expected, that game, FSU and Lamar generally is all anyone has wanted to talk about for the last couple weeks.  Almost universally the consensus is, that was one of the best games they've ever watched, Lamar is so much fun to watch, and that if we win out we're in the Playoff. 
  2. Being at the Clemson game was quite an experience, as you can imagine.  A couple people around us said that this was the loudest/biggest game they had experienced there, which is hard to fathom.  They also had a pregame video to pump up the crowd, like everyone, and at the end they have a scene from like a signing day ceremony where there are two hats - UofL and Clemson - and someone in a Clemson jersey chooses the Clemson hat.  Setting aside the lack of suspense, the person behind us told me that until Saturday, that had always been a South Carolina hat. 
  3. I attended our road games at Notre Dame and Boston College 2 years ago, have now gone to 2 Clemson road games, and the Auburn game last year.  I went to 15 years of Catholic school and graduated from Catholic grade school, high school and college, so large scale public prayer is not something foreign.  But, of all those games, ND/BC did not have a prayer, and Clemson (a public university) and the Chik-Fil-A game did, and that prayer included a shout-out to Chik-Fil-A as a corporate sponsor.  For good measure, the Clemson game Saturday included a stadium wide Pledge of Allegiance, God Bless America and the National Anthem before the invocation.  So there's that.
  4. That Clemson fans are over-the-top nice is well documented, but there was definitely an undercurrent of meanness.  If we won that game in some controversial fashion (say they call the PI on Cole in the end zone and we score on the next play) I think it would have been a VERY hostile environment getting out of there.  Like, their niceness overcompensates for a very deep and maybe even subconscious meanness.  Maybe we'll find out in January or in 2 years when we beat them.
  5. Obviously if you had told us preseason that we'd be looking at 11-1, a New Year's Six bowl game and Lamar as the runaway Heisman all season, that would sound like a dream season.  But of course, it really feels awful right now, and I can't imagine what the players are going through.  Reliving about 15-20 plays, decisions and moments from Clemson non-stop through the bye week and into next weekend is going to be tough.  It will be good to get back out there and have Lamar and friends hang 60 on Power 5 conference foes.
  6. But Clemson had 5 turnovers, two of which were either in the endzone or right outside it, so it wasn't like we didn't have some luck go our way.  That score could have easily been much worse and the comeback fall 2 TDs short and not 2 yards.
  7. It really is unbelievable what our offense can do.  Lamar is special, obviously, but it's the combination of him, Petrino, BRad, the OL, the defense, everyone.  We are really, really good, and switching from "what might have been" to "enjoying the hell out of this team" will be a healthy step in the process for everyone, at your own pace of course. 
  8. It's prrrrrrobably a little early to start worrying about what pieces need to fall into place to make the Playoff, outside the obvious "win the rest of our games" mantra.  College football is chaos, by definition, and there is still a long, long way to go.  Clemson's ACC schedule, like ours, frankly, is pretty light from here on out.  It's not impossible for them to lose twice.  Really wish FSU had beat NC.  But that's college football - still 2 months of weekly insanity to go.
  9. Some team-specific thoughts.  Where is Mickey Crum?  I know Cole is having an insane season, but Mickey was in on the first play the other night, was the guy who false-started, and then didn't play another snap. He even had a baseball cap on most of the night, even though he seemed actively cheering and rooting for guys.  Very strange.
  10. I have a weird obsession with Malik Williams and wanting him to get more first team carries.  He's a JUCO so I think he just has this year and next year, and I hope he gets more touches over the next month with the first team.  It started in garbage time in the Charlotte game watching on the DVR, seeing them just sort of rotate backups in there and then see him and go "whoa who the f was that??"  I assume the mesh point (football term!) and exchange with Lamar is something he would need to work on since Lamar/BRad have that down so well.  But still, let's see what he can do with the first team on a couple drives. 
  11. Along those same lines, I'd like to see young WRs like Seth Dawkins, Spence and Peete play more, or at least let Kyle throw them the ball if he comes in late up a bunch.  I assume Dawkins has played too much to red shirt (although really I have no idea) but if we don't see him on kickoffs or mop up duty anymore, maybe that is the plan.  Amazing that guys like Dawkins, Fitzgerald and Pass are all buried/redshirting.  Have a lot of talent with experience on this team. 
  12. With the first 5 games including FSU and Clemson then a bye, and the next month being relatively easier (although that road game at UVA promises to be weird) I assume/hope that the plan was to rely heavily on the vets, but to start playing the younger guys with the first team more over the next month on both defense and offense.  Obviously you never want to look ahead to next season, but there are a lot of guys who will be asked to step in and replace our best players on both sides of the ball, and playing them in real games with Lamar and other first team guys seems like it would help both this season and next.  Playing the entire second team defense and offense at the end of conference and OOC road games because you are up by 100 is a luxury, but so is having 2nd teamers during the game who don't cause much drop off as you get into the Houston/UK/bowl games and injuries pile up. 
  13. Jaire Alexander.  Wow.  If not for Lamar, I think he would be the most hyped and exciting guy on the team right?  He needs a nickname to start getting the Honey Badger-like attention he might deserve. 
  14. Kickoffs.  Ugh.  It is clearly a strategic decision to make the kick off team catch the ball at the 1 in the corner, and I would love to hear the full story on it.  Ironically, the one kick that went into the end zone at Clemson was kicked to the wrong spot which hurt the coverage and, combined with the special dispensation the pregame prayer leader secured to allow Clemson to hold and block in the back on kickoffs, set up Clemson for the huge return and easy score when we had all the momentum in the world.  Of course, there were about 10 plays AFTER that equally as What If.
  15. But the point is, as much as I and everyone hates it, it is a deliberate decision by Petrino to kick off like that.  For player safety, fan heart health and pure math, I'd rather just give them the ball on the 25 over and over than give them 6+ chances to make a game-altering return (Houston last year and Clemson this year) considering how often we score.  Anyway, it's not about the kicker's leg, he said again and again to people, hoping to inform all of Card Nation before season's end.
  16. Look at where we are, look at where we started: last year at this time our bye week was after a close road win at NC State, coinciding with a potential hurricane, that got us to 2-3 heading into FSU, where we would drop to 2-4.  Now, we are 4-1, everyone in college football is giving us the Alabama-Here's-How-They-Are-Still-In-The-Championship-Despite-Having-Literally-Just-Lost treatment, Lamar is the Heisman front runner by a mile and a sixteenth.  That should be enough.
  17. James Quick.  Man, has anyone had a career with more weird, outcome determining plays in big spots?  His first TD was the UCF game where he returned the blocked punt for a TD and looked so fast like he had just been shot out of a cannon.  His sophomore year he had the punt return fumble at UVA that was not really his fault, got caught from behind by a freak of nature NFL player in the Clemson game because of a bad angle, had the punt coverage fumble he caused last year against UVA, had three TDs in the FSU game, the great catches against UK including the uncalled targeting in the endzone play, the between the legs catch against FSU that somehow he didn't score on or even try to juke that guy before the end zone, and then had this Clemson 4th down play.  10,000 words could be written about his career arc here, and expectations and results, but this is not the time for it.  I'm sure I'm forgetting plays too, but just overall there's some sort of weird (not bad, just weird) aura around Quick that connects him and game or season altering weird plays. 
  18. Even though there are going to be as many as 4 huge brand name programs with openings this off season, I do think Petrino will stick around.  Setting aside all the other stuff, why would you leave Lamar Jackson?  And he's been stockpiling offensive talent that redshirted this year and a lot of younger guys haven't seen the field much yet this year because of the senior trio ahead of them.  And Reggie and Samuel are both really good for our offense and are the 4th and 5th options.  Crazy.  So, all that said, it's college football, anything can happen, but on the list of things I'm worried about, Petrino leaving again is not high up there.  If he does, oh well, I think we can probably attract a good coach to take over the Lamar Experience next year.  
  19. We thought we had a once-in-a-lifetime QB with Teddy, so its weird to say we have a once-in-a-lifetime QB again 3 years later.  But here we are. 
  20. Since there's no theme or structure, I'll just end on the default which is enjoy the precious present.  We have a really, really good team, and at the end of the day, it's just a game with a weirdly shaped ball.  Look at where we are.  Look at where we started.  Just stay alive, that should be enough.