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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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Zoe Adair doesn't mess with anything orange. Never has. Never will.

I_medium Spread check: Louisville by 14.5.

I_medium It felt so damn good to see this again.

Now we've got a season.

I_medium The staff at Syracuse.com makes its predictions for Friday night, and all five writers like Louisville by 10 or more.

I_medium An early Heisman case for Lamar Jackson via Fox Sports.

I_medium The Orlando Sentinel has Louisville-Syracuse as one of the six best games of the weekend.

I_medium Bleacher Report's Greg Couch has a must-read feature on the continuing education of Lamar Jackson.

The education started at home. Jackson's mom would pick him up at high school carrying his playbook, and they would sit down together to figure it out. It continued with Jackson wearing virtual reality goggles at Louisville. It has included lonely daily sessions at 6 a.m. in one of Louisville's football meeting rooms, sometimes the big one, where Jackson was instructed to watch film of himself, over and over, so he could see what everyone on the field was doing. It was just Jackson and film.

And maybe an order of McDonald's hash browns, too.

"At first, I was like, 'Why are they trying to make me do this?'" Jackson says. "'I'm trying to sleep.' It was crazy. I'd watch my bad plays—my good plays, too."

The truth is, at first he wasn't even sure exactly what he was watching. Then it started making sense, and he realized he enjoyed it. "When I started getting more into it, I realized, 'This is what I'm here for.'"

There is a much easier way to go about this. Just put Jackson in the read-option offense, where plays are called for him, he doesn't have to take the snap from right under the center, and he can just run around or quickly make throws without having to read a defense.

But no. That's not what's happening at Louisville, because an unexpected thing happened when Jackson showed up on campus. It turned out he can pass. Big-time. Not just throw. Pass.

Besides, Jackson has no dream about running the read-option, anyway. Petrino is a pro-style coach. And Jackson believes that's the only way to make it in the NFL. Again, that's what he's here for.

The story also includes Jackson talking about the first play of the Auburn game last year, which is hilarious.

And on Jackson's first collegiate play, he...

Threw an interception.

"I choked a little bit," he says. "I was a halfback on that play; it was a trick play. But it didn't work out the way we did all week in practice. When I got the ball in my hand, I paused for a second and was like, 'This is my first college play—my first snap.' Then I saw what was coming at me and was like, 'OH MY GOD. Get rid of the ball!'

Love this dude.

I_medium ESPN's ACC writers are unanimous in picking Louisville to beat Syracuse.

I_medium Virginia is No. 1 in CBS' first "Bottom 25" for 2016.

I_medium From humble beginnings, Travis Rudolph became a household name not because of his play, but because of one act of kindness.

I_medium It's still technically summer, so the tour rolls on.

I_medium Houston's status as a legitimate playoff contender is almost certain to be a topic of conversation in the coming months. That being the case, the SB Nation college football staff decided to get out in front of it and talk about it now.

I_medium John Cassillo lists five things Syracuse fans should be on the lookout for Friday night.

I_medium Syracuse students will have free tickets to Friday night's game.

Not sure just how dramatically that will boost attendance at the Carrier Dome, but it certainly can't hurt.

Here is the letter that apparently sparked the move:

Yeesh.

I_medium The TNIAAM gents have a solid podcast previewing the Louisville game if you're trying to digest everything possible about the game in the next 24 hours.

I_medium DeVante Parker missed practice today with a hamstring injury and seems unlikely to suit up for the Dolphins in week one.

I_medium A 60-second preview of Friday night's game from U of L:

I_medium Chainghazi heated up in a big way Wednesday afternoon, with the ACC coordinator of football officiating himself weighing in to clarify the issue.

ACC coordinator of football officiating Dennis Hennigan provided clarification to a rules debate Wednesday afternoon.

After Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino said he was told by an ACC official that the football cannot be snapped before the chain crew is in place, Hennigan indicated otherwise in an email statement to Syracuse.com.

"Assuming that the offense does not substitute, the officials will allow the offense to snap the ball when the officials are in position, and when the "box," i.e., the down indicator, is set," Hennigan said. "The officials do not wait for the chains to get set. Both the box and the chains move upon the direction of the officials."

Here's Petrino's quote from the ACC coaches' teleconference earlier on Wednesday.

"The chains have to be set," Petrino said on the ACC coaches' teleconference. "You've got to let the chains get down before they can snap the ball again. There were a couple times in that game where they didn't get set. So we have talked to the conference office and that's part of the official's responsibility, is to make sure the chains get set before the ball is snapped."

Hennigan's explanation aligns more closely with Babers' understanding of the rules.

"I was always under the impression that the (down) box was the most important thing," Babers said. "If the box was set than the chains could come later."

I adore ridiculous game week storylines, and this one is right up there with the best.

I_medium Syracuse's injury report lists three players who won't be available Friday night.

I_medium Donovan Mitchell is the No. 2 player in the country who best fits Luke Winn's formula for a breakout sophomore season.

2. Donovan Mitchell, 6' 3" PG/SG, Louisville

Freshman minutes per game: 19.1
Freshman points per game: 7.4
%s of team possessions used / shots taken: 21.0 / 21.6 (but 23.0 in ACC play)
Offensive efficiency rating: 113.1

I called Louisville Breakout Sophomore U in an August column from adidas Nations, where Mitchell and Deng Adel were two of the best college campers. While Adel is a strictly-eye-test breakout candidate, in that he looks improved but his freshman-year numbers don't portend success, Mitchell passes the eye test and the advanced-stats test. He looks ready to emerge as the Cardinals' leading scorer and one of the country's better lead guards—and although he mostly came off the bench during ACC play as a freshman, he used a team-high 23.0% possessions with decent efficiency, suggesting he has the DNA of a go-to-guy.

I_medium Carlton Bragg of Kansas is the only player listed ahead of Donovan.

I_medium Yeahhhh, I can carve 10 minutes out of my day to do that.

I_medium Remember when Jeff Brohm turned down Alabama to stay at Louisville in 2007, only to be used as a scapegoat after the next season. Yeah, that happened. Now Brohm has an opportunity to make his biggest coaching statement yet against the top-ranked Crimson Tide on Saturday.

I_medium By popular demand, here's an update on your Card Chronicle puppy, Penny:

She is awesome. Learned how to sit and shake in less than 24 hours, has only had one minor accident in the house, and deals with strangers and other animals extremely well. There has been one exception, though.

Yesterday, we took her on a second "mini walk" just to get acclimated with the process. She saw some fellow dogs, some squirrels and some other people, and took it all in stride. Near the end of the walk we moved to the side of the road for a guy on a bike who was wearing a bright orange Syracuse shirt. Penny flipped the f--k out. She gets it.

Outside of that, she's just an awesome pup ready for her first game day.

Won't stop talking about Jeremy Smith.

I_medium If you're interested in how Bristol Motor Speedway is turning into the biggest college football stadium in history, here's a nice explainer.

I_medium The injury that almost kept Stacy Thomas out of the season-opener for Louisville was .... unfortunate.

University of Louisville linebacker Stacy Thomas revealed Tuesday night that the non-football-related surgery he had a month ago that kept him out most of preseason camp was for a testicular torsion, or a twisting of a cord to a testicle, that occurred during his sleep.

"It was a freak accident, had never happened before," Thomas said. "But everything is good now."

The condition required a trip to the emergency room for an immediate corrective procedure, and he spent a night in the hospital. From that outset, Thomas' injury, which occurred a month before the first game, wasn't expected to cost him much game time, but he said was initially worried he may have to miss some of the early season.

As it turns out, Thomas returned to practice during the final week of training camp and ended up as U of L's leading tackler last Thursday against Charlotte.

Not sure you can give Stacy enough praise not just for leading Louisville in tackling after that, but for doing anything at all. I would be spending the rest of my life in fear of another testicular torsion. He was already one of my favorite players on this team, but my respect for him pretty much just doubled.

I_medium Stephen Bailey of Syracuse.com breaks down what the Orange's nickel defense looks like.

I_medium The boys are in the air as I type this.

I_medium U of L men's soccer opens ACC play Friday night at Pittsburgh.

I_medium Good news here from one of the state's top prospects.

I_medium Penn State says Pittsburgh isn't good enough to be their rivals, which makes me hope the Panthers beat them by about 4 million on Saturday.

I_medium ACCSports.com focuses on new U of L WR commit Justin Marshall.

I_medium EndZoneScore says College Gameday shouldn't miss the opportunity to come to Louisville ... which we're still not talking about here. We're just posting links to stuff on the internet.

I_medium It will be the Creamsicle Bowl Friday night inside the Carrier Dome.

I_medium Inquisitr says Louisville is one of five teams on upset alert this weekend.

I_medium Friday's game is Dino Babers' first opportunity to make a major statement to the Syracuse fan base.

I_medium CBS js the latest to say they like the under in Louisville-Syracuse.

I_medium And finally, I'm flying solo on R&R this afternoon while John heads to Syracuse. Call in and keep me company, or just listen here.