Saturday’s Cardinal victory over the Demon Deacons is one of my favorite U of L gridiron victories ever.
Louisville 45, Wake Forest 21.
What a pleasing, comforting, unexpected, hopefully unifying conclusion to a strange, disjointed, disrupted, disappointing 2020 U of L Cardinal football season.
Starting last summer with the Great Unknown: Would there be a season at all? If so, how? Would there be fans in the stands?
Would it actually play out all the way, even if it got off the ground?
Then came kickoff and an underwhelming start. Incomprehensible turnovers. The hope inducing close loss in South Bend, followed by more disheartening efforts.
The weekly wonder of who will have to sit out, and who will take to the field?
Louisville’s two leading stars opt out during the season.
Then what could have the veritable coup de grace, Scott Satterfield’s ill advised dalliance with South Carolina, his less than savvy handling of the aftermath — at least until his heartfelt, contrite letter of apology — inflaming a fanbase mostly unwilling to give him any benefit of the doubt.
At 11:43, 17 minutes before the game started, U of L SID Rocco Gasparro released the unavailable list, which included three OL stalwarts, Robbie Bell, Cole Bentley, and Cam DeGeorge. Among others, including TE Ean Pfeifer, and backup QB Evan Conley.
Well, at least the rain had abated by kickoff.
Then, on the Cards’ first play from scrimmage, M Cunningham tossed a backward lateral because of big pressure. Which fell short of Dez Fitzpatrick, who kind of nonchalantly scooped up the ball, as if it were incomplete, not a fumble.
For a loss of 18, leading to a 3 & Out, ending up with a bad snap to the punter.
Turn over on downs, with a short field for the Demon Deacs. A couple plays later, the visitors were up 7-0.
At that juncture, it appeared like the season would end not with a bang but a whimper.
I wrote the word “SURREAL” in the margin of my notes.
The announcers, Wes Durham and Roddy Jones, were at home, not in the booth. Never optimal. The crowd, because of all the dismay with the coach, was even lighter than the normal lightness of a COVID-sized limits.
So ready was I for a beatdown, I actually was chatting up my fellow Card fans on the phone. Something I never do. Doc. Smart Guy. Bookstore Billy.
Not that we were giving up, but we were all resigned for defeat.
Of possible monumental proportions.
* * * * *
I am very sure that many, perhaps most of the people reading this are disinclined now to give Coach Satt any credit.
But, his teams at Louisville have one trait game in and game out.
The. Cardinals. Do. Not. Give. Up.
I attribute that to his coaching.
The makeshift OL of Collins, Chandler, Boone, Brown and Black began opening some holes. Powerful if not as speedy in the open field as Cardinal fans would hope Jalen Mitchell found those holes.
Blink, and Louisville, -22 on the ground in the 1st, was playing manly man, Bo & Woody football, and were up 21-10 at intermission. The running game was obviously complimented by two big completions on the initial scoring drive.
The Cards pushed further ahead. The Demon Deacons fought within a TD and converted try.
Then Louisville put put extra fudge, whipped cream, nuts and a cherry on the sundae of a season finale, with 17 straight.
U of L, led by M Cunningham, injured hammy and all, tallied on 7 of its last 8 possessions.
It was plenty danged sweet.
* * * * *
This and that:
The fake FG didn’t work, but I liked the call, what with the swirling wind and all.
How savvy of Monty Montgomery, after his pick, tossing the pigskin to faster, more elusive Russ Yeast for a return.
Do we need any more evidence of what a gamer M Cunningham is? No. Plus he had to deal with low snaps the whole afternoon.
U of L was +2 in turnover margin.
* * * * *
I think Durham and Jones are considerably better than average announcers.
But I was disappointed they didn’t reveal early on how many were missing from the OL.
* * * * *
The game will not be available for future viewing on ESPN Classic.
Wake Forest hadn’t played in a month.
Wake Forest had travel issues on Friday, not arriving in their hotel until late Friday evening.
Whatever. Let me reiterate.
Louisville 45, Wake Forest 21 is one of my favorite Cardinal wins ever.
— c d kaplan