Rhett Lashlee sounds like a character in a “Bounty Law” TV episode. The gunslinger who rides into town one day, helps Rick Dalton capture the black hats, eschews a celebratory sarsaparilla at Kate’s Saloon, woos the school marm’s sister with his charm, then rides off into the cacti and tumbleweed a hero.
In real life, he’s Miami’s estimable OC, and he veni vidi vici-ed U of L, victoriously boarding a flight with the Canes back to the State of Miami.
Truth is a more talented, more craftily coached visiting Hurricane squad exposed Louisville Saturday night. Certainly the Cards defense. And, in the first half anyway, U of L’s O.
* * * * *
In the 2d half, Manny Diaz’s vastly improved team scored 27 points on 20 offensive plays, needing only 7:58 of clock to do so.
It was not a pretty sight for the Red & Black Faithful.
Of course, there are the two plays that really burn.
The Canes’ first offensive down of the 2d half, when Cam’Ron Harris ran around right end, and galloped 75 yards untouched for a TD.
The Canes’ second offensive down of the 3d Q, when QB D’Eriq King hit uncovered RB Jaylan Knighton, who scampered untouched 75 yards for a TD.
Louisville’s coverage and/or contain were blown on both plays. Hugely.
But, both were set up by plays Lashlee called from the same formations in the opening half.
Louisville was bamboozled. And did not adjust with focus.
The Cards’ woes on D started early.
An offside penalty on the Hurricanes’ second possession of the game gave the visitors a 2d and 6, instead of 3d and 11. Then, on 3d and 1, DC Bryan Brown rushed only three, who offered no pressure to King, and the eight who dropped back still couldn’t stop a scoring strike.
On Miami’s next possession, they converted a 3d and 14 and a 3d and 11, on both of which U of L only challenged with three rushers. The victors drove down the gridiron for a score.
U of L’s plan was obviously to contain King’s running. Which they did. 9 yards net on 8 carries, holding him without a rushing score for the first time in 17 games.
But, Miami took advantage, adjusting adroitly.
There are more examples. Enough is enough.
Remember how poorly U of L’s D looked against UK last season. Last night was eerily too similar, deja vu all over again.
The effort on that side of the ball was a combination of just needing more good players, and being outfoxed by a team and staff whose rebuild is accelerating more quickly.
* * * * *
Louisville’s offense did do its part. After intermission anyway.
Louisville, aided by 20 yards of Hurricane penalties, scored on its opening possession, cutting the deficit to 13-20.
The Cards proved their mettle, answering that first Miami quick strike, with an 11 play 74 yard drive, to pull with 7 again, 20-27, on a M Cunningham* toss to to Tutu Atwell.
* I missed the memo on Cunningham’s last first name reversal. Hence forth here, no disrespect intended, he’ll simply be M.
Miami took away the Cards deep ball. Cunningham, off his feed a bit, was still 26/36 for 337 and three scores. He did throw a bad pick, and missed Ean Pfeiffer wide open in the endzone.
Javian Hawkins was a beast. 27 carries for 164 net yards.
Meaning the O Line also was doing a good job most of the time on rushing downs.
Hawkins’ 19 yard reverse-his-field score on a 3d & 3 was magnificent.
* * * * *
James Turner’s place kicking was solid. Really solid. A good sign.
So too, for the most part, frosh Brock Travelstead’s kickoffs.
Logan Lupo’s 37 yards per punt average needs improvement.
— c d kaplan