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Monday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

It’s officially game week, and Zach Hamilton is ready to hand Nick Saban an L.

—Spread check: Alabama by 24.5.

I don’t even care about the number, it just felt good to lead off a news and notes with a spread check again.

—The sixth-ranked U of L men’s soccer team kicked off its season Friday night with a 2-1 win over visiting St. Bonaventure. The Cards host Georgia State Tuesday night at 7:30.

—The women’s soccer team continued its sensational start with a 3-1 road win over previously unbeaten Michigan to move to 4-0 on the season. Brooklyn Rivers scored all three goals to notch her first career hat trick.

—The College Football Live crew isn’t giving Louisville any shot on Saturday (talk starts around the 7 minute mark).

—The U of L volleyball team opened its season by sweeping all three matches at the Cardinal Classic.

—The only Cardinal team to taste defeat so far in 2018-19 is the 8th-ranked field hockey squad, which fell in overtime to No. 24 Ohio State on Sunday.

—Don’t let SOCIETY tell you that your tailgate for Saturday can’t start now.

—Willie Taggart has named Deondre Francois as Florida State’s starting quarterback for week one.

—In related news, Clemson has named Kelly Bryant as its week one starter.

—The Associated Press previews NC State.

—Christen Cunningham was not prepared for the Zombie Walk.

Nice to see the co-captain took it in stride.

—U of L alum Adam Hadwin makes this Golf Digest list of the nicest players on the PGA Tour.

—Kentucky tackle Landon Young will miss the entire 2018 season because of a knee injury. Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery to the young man.

—We’re almost there.

—Louisville has offered a scholarship to four-star small forward Robby Beran out of Las Vegas.

—JuCo power forward Khalid Thomas from the College of Southern Idaho also has a Louisville offer.

—Highly-coveted class of 2019 star Samuell Williamson will visit Louisville next month.

—The CJ previews the 2018 ACC football season.

—UCLA has suspended six players for its season-opening game against Cincinnati.

—Pretty sure this is illegal.

—Jake Lourim of the CJ kicks off game week with a U of L football mailbag.

—U of L QB commit Jaden Johnson had a monster start to his senior season. Johnson accounted for four touchdowns (three passing) and more than 500 total yards, including 399 through the air.

—More like Merry Terry.

—Nick Saban says that nothing has been decided as far as Alabama’s quarterback situation is concerned.

—Here’s the Crimson Tide’s official depth chart for Saturday.

—How will Louisville answer its key questions against Alabama?

—Receivers will play a huge role in Saturday’s game.

The Crimson Tide’s three starting receivers all departed, including star Calvin Ridley.

Sophomores Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith and Henry Ruggs III were all prized recruits but only had a few highlights last season.

The biggest catch of the season, however, was Smith’s 41-yard, game-winning touchdown catch in overtime of the national championship game. He said he has “moved on” from that game, but Smith has high hopes for himself and his fellow sophomore receivers.

”We’re all feeding off each other and helping each other get better and better each day,” Smith said. “We see one person do something the right way, and we just feed off of that. And anytime we’re doing something wrong, we correct each other. We just help each other.”

Cardinals’ receivers have tried to focus on the long term rather than this marquee opener against college football’s premier team. At the same time, they’re determined to help sophomore quarterback Jawon Pass get comfortable in the pocket as he succeeds the dynamic Jackson. Maybe even, establish their own identities as well.

”I don’t think there’s more pressure on them because at the receiver position you want the pressure, you want the ball,” said Lonnie Galloway, Louisville’s co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach. “The hardest thing is going to be, how many times can we get it to them?

”It’ll be great to see the running backs, my guys and the tight ends pick up the slack from Lamar because he accounted for a lot of the offense.”

—The Roanoke Times previews Louisville.

—Michael McCammon talks about Saturday’s game with an Alabama podcast.

—The Winners and Whiners gambling site likes Bama to cover the spread.

—Dick Vitale giving his endorsement for the new Rick Pitino book does nothing for me, but I’m at least a little bit more intrigued now that Bilas has said this.

—More than 23 of college basketball coaches believe the changes to the recruiting calendar will make the sport worse.

—Updated ACC football championship odds from BetDSI:


Clemson -265

Miami +500

Florida State +550

Virginia Tech +950

Georgia Tech +3600

NC State +3800

Louisville +4000

Duke +4800

Boston College +5000

Pittsburgh +6200

Wake Forest +6500

Syracuse +9800

North Carolina +13000

Virginia +25000

—Sixty-three percent of college basketball coaches believe the FBI won’t be charging another coach before the end of its investigation.

Those who said no ...

”I hope so, but probably not. Whatever happened to the rule that head coaches are in charge of what happens in their program ... and only one guy got fired? A few guys got extension or raises.”

”I hope not.”

”To be honest, I hope so, but I don’t know.”

”I think what you see is what you’ll get. I believe that some of it is the time that’s passed since [the initial charges], but a lot of schools were made to go through this general counsel kind of deal, and I think if anything would have come about, it would have already have happened. Kansas and Maryland were always going to be implicated in some form or another because of the ties to certain kids.”

”I do not [believe] another coach will be charged. I do believe they have some info on a blue blood program or two. But those programs are untouchable.”

”They won’t charge the coaches they should charge.”

”Everything I’ve heard is that the FBI just wants to be done with this now. I’ll be surprised if another coach is charged. I think they’re ready to move on.”

”Unless something is in the subpoenas of the two schools that have been added to the investigation (Kansas and Maryland) that we don’t know about, I would say no.”

”The fact that assistant coaches were indicted by the federal government and these head coaches walk away unscathed is an embarrassment to the NCAA.”

—Details for the official U of L fan tailgate in Orlando are here. We’ll be doing pregame from the tailgate starting at noon.

—Happy 45th-anniversary to Paul Rogers. The guy is the best.

—Russidculous (the horse) is still running and was victorious in Wyoming over the weekend.

—Here’s a summary of the biggest things Nick Saban said during his pre-Louisville press conference on Monday.

—The KFC Yum Center is holding a job fair on Tuesday.

—These are sick.

—Churchill Downs reacts to the loss of John Asher.

—Eric Crawford also pays tribute to the local icon.

—The CJ continues its preseason series with a profile of Steven Enoch.

—Roll Bama Roll lists five things to know about Louisville.

The VanGorder Conundrum

When Petrino hired VanGorder, few in the Louisville fanbase rejoiced. Sure, the well-traveled defensive coordinator has a seemingly nice pedigree: he has ties to the SEC, coached in the NFL, and has a long resume full of stops at defensive schools.

However, VanGorder likewise has little experience improving those defenses he’s helmed. At best, he has held the rope for those who hired him, making little progress while keeping listing ships afloat during his respective tenures. For a school that already had a top-caliber defense, a VanGorder hire could be a neutral proposition that buys time for a better candidate to emerge. But for a team like Louisville that has been wracked with defensive woes for the last several years, maintenance of the status quo is problematic.

Don’t expect the 2018 edition of the Cardinal defense to break trends for themselves or their new defensive coordinator. Both will likely continue to wallow in mediocrity, as the Cardinal defense has been plagued with a lack of coaching continuity and features wholesale rebuilding efforts in the front seven and defensive backfield. Against a team with as much offensive talent as the Tide boasts, the opener could be the beginning of a very trying season for the Louisville defense.

Few give the Cardinals much chance of knocking off the Tide, but they probably aren’t as inept an opponent as many suspect. They match up well with Alabama in terms of size, though they lack experience at many positions (especially on defense.) Yet again, the flagship of Petrino’s team will be the offense, and the Cardinals will live and die by that sword. If Pass can ignite the offense the way his predecessor did, the Cardinals should at least have a chance at winning nine games and turning in a respectable season in what most would consider a rebuilding year. But if the offense is called upon to carry the load for a defense that simply can’t stop the bleeding, the more reasonable expectation for the Cards could be a fifth-place finish in the ACC Atlantic.

—Lamar Jackson gave his strongest overall performance of the preseason on Saturday.

—And finally, John and I kick off the first game week of 2018 this afternoon from 3-6. I am excited and you can listen to me being excited here.