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Day after thoughts: Louisville 41, Boston College 39


Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

My hope is that Louisville football under Scott Satterfield (and then whomever comes next) keeps progressing and quickly reaches a point where a win over an average(?) Boston College team never makes me as giddy as the one Saturday afternoon did.

We aren’t there right now, and I know this, because it’s been almost 24 hours and I’m still floating.

Two or three years ago, we never would have imagined that this program could go 697 days between ACC wins, or that it could be on the verge of losing 10 consecutive league games for the first time in program history. Hopefully, that’s a reality we never have to face again.

For now, let’s celebrate the fact that the Cards are above .500, still have a non-pipedream-shot of spending the holidays getting ready for a bowl game, and everyone involved with the program (including the fans) appear to be enjoying the game of football for the first time in about three years.

—When the dust settled inside Cardinal Stadium on Saturday afternoon, Louisville had piled up 664 yards of total offense, the most allowed in the history of Boston College football.

There might not be an ACC team more synonymous with tough defense than BC. The fact that this Louisville team could set that sort of record against a program with that type of reputation is truly remarkable.

—What a day. What a moment.

—The “Malik becomes Micale” Cunningham thing caught everyone by surprise in the hours leading up to the game, including Cunningham’s parents. I like to think that Micale did this as a nod to all the local sports writers and radio show hosts who accidentally mix his name up with Malik Williams’ (or vice versa) on a daily basis.

Much appreciated, man.

—Speaking of Micale, with three games as a starter under his belt now, some of these numbers are pretty head-turning.

For instance ...

I will fully cop to not believing he could throw the ball well enough to lock down this job on a consistent basis, but even if everyone’s 100 percent healthy, Micale Cunningham is your quarterback right now.

—Having said that, how about the stones on Evan Conley?

Scott Satterfield clarified after the game that Cunningham wasn’t available on that final drive. The fact that none of us knew that and we still were like, “yeah I’m good with Conley being the guy here, he’s got the hot hand” is a strong testament to just how poised he looked Saturday afternoon.

Puma’s lingering injury (I think any doubt that it’s turf toe is going away) doesn’t look like it’s going to stop lingering any time soon. Micale has also gotten dinged in up in all three games he has started at quarterback. With this being the situation, it is a massive safety net to have Conley look the way he has in both of his appearances this season. I’m sure the staff would prefer to have him only appear in two more games and be able to use a redshirt on this season, but I’m not sure they’re going to have that luxury.

—Whenever I think of classic Cardinal shootouts, I think of the ‘04 game against De’Angelo Williams and Memphis State. I guess now I have to think about Louisville vs. Boston College too, which seems weird, but definitely fits.

—AJ Dillon is always going to get his. He has now rushed for over 100 yards in 16 of his 23 career starts. The important thing was that Louisville didn’t let the big guy (or backup David Bailey) gouge them with momentum-shifting monster plays. Dillon got to 118, but it took a respectable 22 carries for him to get there. Once again, the front seven more or less did its part for the Cardinal defense.

—The secondary is another issue.

Satterfield summed it up well during his pre-halftime interview: “We’re not very good in the pass defense right now. Our secondary is getting shredded, really.”

This is the third straight game where Louisville has done a good job against a team known primarily for its rushing attack, but allowed said team to have an unusually effective day through the air.

Before he got injured, BC starter Anthony Brown was 6-of-7 for 193 yards and a score. Backup Dennis Grosel was extremely shaky, but still managed to pile up 111 yards and three more TDs.

The best quarterbacks on Louisville’s schedule — Trevor Lawrence, Bryce Perkins, Jamie Newman — are all guys that we haven’t seen yet. My guess is you’re going to hear a lot about pass defense out of the Cardinal camp this week.

—As Keith highlighted last week, the biggest advantage Louisville had in this game on paper was its wide receivers versus an abysmal BC secondary. The talented crop of wideouts needed to step up in a big way, and they answered the bell.

—It wasn’t a banner day for the defense by any stretch of the imagination, but I did think that Yasir Abdullah had a phenomenal day. The way he flies around the field and throws his weight around reminds me a lot of Stacy Thomas. Here’s hoping we see more of that from the sophomore moving forward.

—Blanton Creque got all the love during the postgame celebration for his 41-yard game-winner in the final minute. He deserves all that adulation, but how about a little love for holder Mason King as well? That was not a great snap by any stretch and the man still managed to set the stage perfectly for Creque’s heroics.

—What can’t Marc Weinberg do?

—We’re not going to talk about them as much as we would have had the Cards lost, but the wasted timeout before the last punt, the illegal substitution penalty that kept BC’s final drive alive, and the fumble on our own last drive ... that was all not good. It was beyond cathartic to see this team gut out a close, meaningful game, but the mistakes that doomed them in the fourth quarter against Notre Dame and Florida State have not been completely cleaned up just yet.

—Those mistakes and the lingering questions about them did lead to a fabulous excahnge between Satterfield and Tim Sullivan after the game.

—Our groundbreaking yet highly controversial “act like the tight end doesn’t exist and maybe the other team won’t notice him” defense continues to get deployed despite little to no success thus far. My suggestion would be to keep it tucked in the cupboard these next couple weeks against Wake Forest and Clemson.

—Louisville was terrific against the run until the 4th quarter, continuing the trend of the Cardinal defense appearing to be a bit worn down late in the game. Given the squad’s well-covered lack of depth, I think this might just be a trend that we have to live with all season.

—Is this good?

Seems good.

—The officials awarding Boston College a first down because of the forward progress Grosel made while falling to the ground but also refusing to acknowledge that he clearly fumbled in the midst of that same act was the worst officiating in a Louisville play this season. No one blew a whistle, and Dorian Etheridge clearly stripped the ball before Grosel was down. Either he was stopped short of the marker and it should have been our ball, or he fumbled and it should have been our ball. Neither of those were the call that was made.

The fumble on the BC kick return was also painfully obvious, and the Tyler Haycraft personal foul call for blocking too well was an all-timer.

—You hated to see Robbie Bell get hurt, but it was nice to see Adonis Boone get some extended run and perform (despite a penalty) really well.

—It was also great to see Trenell Troutman out there making the most impressive special teams play of the season so far with that monster hit in the second half.

—If we could stop getting flagged for bullshit on unbelievable Rodjay Burns punt returns, that would be cool. He’s had two sensational returns called back now for extremely questionable whistles.

—Ballard High product Marshon Ford is quickly becoming a fan favorite and for good reason.

He came out of the backfield and almost ended a lesser man’s life on at least two occasions yesterday.

—It’s been nice these last two games to see Dez Fitzpatrick remind everyone that he’s an NFL wide receiver. Most teams in the ACC aren’t going to have an answer for that.

—I was surprised that the official attendance number was just over 46,000. When I got to the stadium for the pregame show there were way more people already in the purple lot than are typically there for a noon or 12:30 kick, so I just assumed the number would be closer to 55K.

I learned a long time ago that you can’t control what other fans do so there’s no point in getting worked up over it, regardless of whether you’re lecturing or excusing. It is what it is. Enjoy the games the way you want to enjoy them.

—Token baby Virginia pic to commemorate the Cards winning an ACC game on the same day she turned a month old:

So excited she crapped her pants. Multiple times.

—Bouncing back from an — at least by the standards he has set for himself — average performance against Florida State, Javian Hawkins was right back to looking like the best player on the field on Saturday. He carried 25 times for 172 yards, and picked up a healthy dose of that yardage after contact.

Five weeks in, Hawkins not only leads all FBS freshmen in rushing, but he ranks 12th in the country and third in the ACC overall in yards per game.

—Let the record show that the Cards are undefeated when I talk to the crowd for two seconds before games.

—With this result coupled with the 2016 Florida State game, I’m thinking we need to have at least one home football game a year that incorporates Muhammad Ali in some way.

The same can’t be said for men’s basketball.

—I know people get sick of the constant comparisons to the past regime, but one aspect of the new staff that has been clearly superior to the last five years (even when things were going well) has been clock management. The wasted timeout in the 4th quarter was frustrating, but Satterfield seems to have a great sense of how to handle drives late in both the 2nd and 4th quarters. That was not the case under Bobby Petrino, and was a constant source of frustration.

—A run-first offense doesn’t mean the big play is going to disappear. Clearly.

—The booth shot of James Bates wearing the Touchdown Squirrel finger thing and explaining it was the worst use of 60 seconds I’ve seen from a football broadcast in 2019. That’s saying something.

RSN forever.

—Satterfield talked multiple times after the game about how winning an early game and then being able to kick back and watch the rest of the country play knowing that you already secured your W is the best feeling. I’ve never related to a coach’s point of view more. Whether we’re talking football or basketball, it’s the best weekend (or NCAA tournament day) feeling.

I’m gonna keep floating until Monday morning rolls around. I’d suggest all of you do the same.