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Lingering thoughts: Louisville 62, Wake Forest 59

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Because this game deserves some extended attention.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 Louisville at Wake Forest Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Regardless of the circumstances, first years after a major coaching change (although I guess there aren’t really minor coaching changes) are always tricky to predict. Because of this, you could have come to me with virtually any semi-reasonably bold prediction about the 2019 Louisville football season, and I would have hit you with a “it’s certainly possible.”

Predicting that the 2019 Cards would be involved in the highest-scoring game in program history, that their opponent would be a 5-0 league foe ranked in the nation’s top 20 and playing at home, and that Louisville would come out victorious in said game ... that would have been seriously pushing it.

It had far, far too long since we had a day/night like Saturday. That’s a layered statement.

At the surface level, Louisville snapped a 10-game losing streak against ranked opponents, the longest such streak in program history. The Cards won a road game against a top 25 team for the first time since 2011, and have now won back-to-back ACC games for the first time since November, 2017.

Diving deeper, it’s been a long time since U of L fans had a day-long sense of excitement for a showcase football game that didn’t leave them frustrated and angry when the clock hit zero (or well before). Walking around Saturday afternoon and seeing all the Cardinal flags and the people wearing U of L shirts and flashing those “I think we can get these guys” smiles during half-second interactions; It was all such a fantastic reminder of the way Saturdays in the fall are supposed to feel around here.

It had been far, far too long since a Saturday around here felt the way the most recent one did.

Here’s to many more.

—I think it’s safe to say that Saturday was the biggest day for the Card Chronicle Bird Mask since ... maybe the day Teddy wore it?

Even the official U of L football celebration poster joined the fun.

Again, this weekend was the absolute best.

—I don’t know if “Micale Cunningham starts and looks awesome, gets hurt and then replaced by Evan Conley who also looks awesome” is a sustainable quarterback strategy moving forward, but shit it’s 3-for-3 so far.

Maybe there’s something to be said for an opposing defense getting acclimated with one style and then having to readjust mid-game. Maybe there’s also something to be said for WKU, Boston College and Wake Forest not being terrific defenses. Regardless, the numbers these last two weeks have been staggering, and the fact that they’ve been produced with Louisville’s second and third string quarterbacks running the show is fairly remarkable.

If Cunningham’s healthy enough to go on Saturday (I do wonder if we’re going to get an update on the status of his head at some point on Monday), I think you have to roll out the same game plan where he’s getting the lion’s share of the snaps but there’s also a set series or two in place or Conley. If the freshman comes in and once again looks like baby Chris Redman and you feel like you have to roll with him, then you do it.

You’re gonna hear people toss around the phrase “this is a good problem to have” or some variation a ton this week, but I don’t think that cliche was meant for the situation Scott Satterfield currently has at QB. This is a fluid deal with a set starting point. Any move Satterfield wants to make at the quarterback position is justified right now. That’s how good both these guys have been the last two weeks.

—The most surprising thing for me about the first half of the season has been how much fun it is to watch this new Louisville offense. When you’re a lifelong fan of a program that has been known in more years than not for elite quarterbacks putting up massive numbers, you instinctually have some reservations when the first thing you hear about a new coach is that he’s a “run first’ guy.

I’m not well-versed enough in football to break down all the little reasons why Satterfield’s scheme works as well as it does, so I won’t attempt to. But watching the team move the ball this year has been like hearing a great piece of music or watching a really well-produced video or staring at a great piece of art; Even if you can’t fully articulate why, when you see it, you can immediately understand why the people who can fully articulate these types of things have always spoken so glowingly about the artist or artists in question.

For instance, I would like to have this play call injected directly into my blood stream.

TuTu’s speed is a such a weapon in these types of situations, and seeing Satterfield and company come up with creative ways like this to utilize it has been so damn fun.

—Props to Keith on recognizing this, but on Evan Conley’s late touchdown run, Satterfield called the exact same play in the exact same situation and it produced the exact same result in last year’s Sun Belt championship game.

The more Evan shows off the wheels the more opposing front sevens are going to have to honor his presence on read option plays.

—The baby has decided she wants to go as Evan Conley for Halloween. I will now be going as CCBM Micale Cunningham. Mary’s going to be a student assistant or something. We’re not really worried about it.

—Dez Fitzpatrick has always been an NFL-caliber wide receiver. He just decided to remind everyone these last three weeks. My god he’s been a beast.

—After making the bold prediction of a TuTu Atwell TD pass in the game day post, I wish there was video of me during the play where he threw the pass into the endzone. I saw it develop, immediately stood up, and was poised for the biggest overreaction of 2019, even with the baby sleeping just a few feet away.

Alas.

—I’m pretty sure this is the second-earliest (damn you forever, Krags) my preseason prediction (3-9) has hit the point of having zero chance at being right. We’re also one win away from this being the first time in the history of the site that I will have undervalued a Louisville football team by more than win.

I’ve never been more happy to be more wrong.

—Beth Satterfield rules. We probably should have been talking more about this. That’s on me. I’ll wear it.

—I wish I loved anything as much as Dave O’Brien loves the word “scampering” or its variations. I get that we all have tics or verbal crutches that we rely on a little too often, but man, I think we had no fewer than 17 scamperers on BB&T Field Saturday night.

—Everyone always thinks the announcers hate their team and are rooting for their opponents, so I usually roll my eyes when I see tweets or comments expressing the complaint. That said, I will fully cop to being extremely annoyed by the commentary on Saturday.

I think replay could have shown a Blanton Creque extra point sailing as perfectly in between the uprights as possible and Tim Hasselbeck would have responded with, “oooo, to me, that looks like it might have gone just right. They’re gonna have to take a close look at this.” Also, the persistent treatment of Wake Forest as though they were a plucky, one win team playing against the ‘85 Bears instead of an undefeated, nationally ranked touchdown favorite playing at home was consistently irritating.

All that said, we’re 1-0 on the ACC Network with that one win being a thriller on the road against a top 20 team. If the Virginia game gets the same TV assignment, I’m good with it.

—Imagine having the audacity to refer to yourself as “Mr. Pillow.” At best, you’re a top 50 name in the pillow biz. Tone it down.

—Five days straight of nothing but onside kick recovery during practice this week to get ready for Clemson.

—You don’t really need a “defense has to be better” blurb after a game where the opponent puts up 59 points and 668 yards of total offense. I think we’re all on the same page there.

What I will say is that, even though they’re not always doing the right thing, our dudes fly around the field all play, every play. It’s fun as hell to watch, especially with the memory of last year still fresh in everyone’s mind.

Neither defense played well (obviously), but there was still some serious hitting in that game, which is a testament to both coaching staffs and the buy-in they have from their guys.

—The Yasir Abdullah fan club continues to grow. We meet at Andy’s TV on Thursday nights.

—We must also give a tip of the cap to Rodjay Burns, who was as phenomenal as a defensive player can be on a night where his defense gives up 59 points and 668 yards.

—Just some football guys leading a football renaissance of a football program.

It’s only weird if they’re not your guys.

—I know Higgins and Ross at Clemson are great, but I don’t think we’re going to see a better wide receiver combination this season than Sage Surratt and Scotty Washington. Those guys are phenomenal.

—Maybe this is off-base, but I detect some serious “rival coach from seasons 3 and 4 of Last Chance U” energy from Dave Clawson. Just based off the way he handled the WakeyLeaks stuff, the anonymous Lamar quote controversy and seeing him lose his shit after that last onside kick, I can definitely see him being a guy who fancies himself one way but instantly morphs into the total antithesis of that at the first hint of controversy.

Hell of a football coach though. Great football coach.

—Hottest rivalry in college football is back.

—Evan Conley is the best closer since Dennis Eckersley.

Yeah I could have gone with Mariano Rivera there, but we all know Eck is the better reference. That mustache? C’mon.

—I was told that Wake’s in-stadium hype video featured Tim Duncan.

Couldn’t walk away with this one, Tim. People don’t forget.

My thoughts and prayers are with all the shirttails in Winston-Salem that failed to be untucked as a result of Saturday night’s loss. Including Tim’s.

—Beat Clemson and Louisville controls its destiny in the Atlantic Division.

No, YOU calm the fuck down. I’m not going to be shamed for presenting facts.

—This is the one Wake Forest fan I felt sorry for.

Rest easy, little lady. Your favorite team will be slightly above average in basketball four years from now when Shaka Smart’s the third-year head coach.

—One of the most underrated things about both Javian Hawkins and Hassan Hall this year has been their ability to fight and turn what should be a two-yard loss into a two-yard gain. It doesn’t look sexy in the box score, and neither guy posted particularly sparkling numbers on Saturday, but both had multiple plays where they morphed a 2nd and 12 into a 2nd and 8. That stuff really matters.

—It was awesome to see Keion Wakefield get involved and have one really nice play in the first half. I’m sure he’s frustrated by the way his college career has gone up to this point, but it looks like he’s going to have a non-insignficant role on this team moving forward, and then assumedly step into a much larger spotlight in 2020.

—Token victory picture of the baby, who crapped through her U of L outfit in the first half and then celebrated the W in her sleep:

This will continue as long as the winning streak does ... and almost certainly even after winning streak ends.

—If the officials had overturned the possession call after that last onside kick, I seriously would have launched the petition for us to move back to Conference USA.

Also, did it sound to anyone else like he was apologizing when he announced that the call on the field was standing?

I’m sure Clawson will text back. You might just need to give him three or four days to cool down. It’s gonna be fine.

—My guess is that more times than not coaches forgive players who commit targeting penalties because so many of them seem so difficult to avoid. Dorian Etheridge’s doesn’t fall under that umbrella. It was a textbook targeting foul in a situation that didn’t require that level of force. Now, Louisville is going to be without arguably its best defensive player for the first half against Clemson. He has to be smarter in that situation.

—Two tackles for our guy Ty Tyler, but Ty Tyler sack watch rolls on for another week.

—Look, I don’t know what’s going to happen in the second half of this season, but I’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen in the coming years. This program is going to continue to build, and not too long from now, Louisville football is back to where we all expect it to be. That crystal clear glimpse into the future has been provided over the last month and a half.

Louisville football is fun again. Fall is fun again. And ...

Wait for it .... wait for it ....

The Cards are back.