—Spread check: Wake Forest by 7.
—The latest episode of the Card Chronicle Podcast is here.
—It’ll be a top 15 men’s soccer showdown in Durham tonight when No. 14 Louisville squares off against No. 4 Duke. Here’s a preview.
—Good story here from Cam Teague of the CJ on Ashleigh Wilkinson, who is the first female student coach in U of L football history.
—The Louisville men’s basketball team held its first full practice of the 2021-22 preseason on Thursday. Louisville Report’s Matt McGavic was in attendance and shared some notes and observations.
-Mack and the rest of the coaching staff weren’t joking when they said they’ve dramatically kicked the pace of play up. Players were always moving at full go no matter what drill they were running, and it was one of the faster basketball practices I’ve ever seen. In fact, one of the first drills they ran was a fast break passing drill, and they were flying down the court.
-Let’s briefly talk about player health. Malik Williams, Mason Faulkner and Roosevelt Wheeler, who all are dealing with some sort of long-term foot injury, all looked incredibly fresh, and seemed to be playing with no limitations. The one injured player was JJ Traynor, who spent the entire practice on the sideline. Mack later said after practice he was dealing with an “off and on” hamstring injury, but should be good to rejoin practice this weekend. No major cause for concern there.
-Now let’s talk about the actual play of the players. While Jae’Lyn Withers wore the gold jersey to start the preseason, I’d say the most impressive player of the first practice was El Ellis. He was great both on and off the ball, was incredibly quick and precise on his downhill attack to the basket, and made a couple good passes down low on the drive.
-It’s easy to see why Jarrod West, a graduate transfer, was voted as a captain. He was by far the most vocal player on the court, uplifting teammates, and taking accountability of mistakes that he or his team made. He look really good in spurts on both ends of the floor, as expected. Didn’t get to see a lot of his game on the outside, as he played mostly inside or on the drive, but he was able to hold his own against defenders who were bigger than him.
Also of note: Jae’Lyn Withers is wearing the gold jersey for week one.
—WAVE3’s Kent Taylor writes about Lamar vs. Teddy.
—Jawon Pass rushed for a pair of scores as Prairie View A&M took down Arkansas Pine Bluff in a nationally televised game on ESPNU Thursday night.
—Both Jody Demling and Michael McCammon over at Cardinal Authority are picking Louisville to upset Wake Forest.
—This seems pretty good.
—Churchill Downs has announced plans for a casino-like ‘historical horse racing’ venue downtown. I’m very excited for the eventual addition of historical blackjack and historical craps and historical betting on the football game that kicks off in 15 minutes.
—Speaking of, a poll on WDRB.com asking readers whether or not they’re in favor of legalized casino gaming in Kentucky currently sits at 97% in favor. I’m honestly not sure there’s anything else that 97% of Kentuckians can’t agree on. The fact that the state government refuses to do anything on this front remains completely baffling.
—The Athletic covers the importance of Teddy-Lamar to Louisville fans.
Bridgewater and Jackson this week both downplayed the significance of the matchup. The two don’t know each other particularly well, but they are bonded in a way by shared experiences and similar backgrounds.
“He came back (to campus) a few times, but we didn’t really get after it, talk about much around that time,” said Jackson, who is dealing with a back “flare-up” but is expected to be fine. “For sure, that’s my boy, though. That’s my boy.”
They are from the fertile football hotbed of South Florida, products of single mothers who were fiercely protective and determined to help their sons find their way. They became stars at Louisville, beloved by fans and deeply admired by teammates and coaches. They spent the months before the NFL Draft listening to their pro potential get critiqued and criticized and then waited several agonizing hours to hear their names called. They were both taken with the 32nd and final pick of the first round.
“I never got what the dilemma was with them,” said Brandon Radcliff, a running back at the school from 2013 to 2016. “They should have both been top-10 picks. And yet they both nearly didn’t get taken in the first round at all.”
Yet, Bridgewater and Jackson have made a career of silencing doubters. Bridgewater persevered through an early-career-altering knee injury, beat out Drew Lock for the starting job this summer and he’s now playing some of the best football of his career in helping the Broncos to a 3-0 start. Jackson, who some pundits believed would never succeed as an NFL quarterback, was the league’s unanimous MVP following the 2019 season, has led the Ravens to the playoffs three straight years and is currently shouldering an even bigger load for a 2-1 Ravens team that has been decimated by injuries.
“There’s so much in common,” Bridgewater said. “I’m happy for all the success he’s had in his career. I’ve been following him since he got to Louisville. … It’s great that he’s made all the strides he’s made throughout the course of his career. I’m looking forward to watching him compete against our defense. I’m going to be rooting for him, but at the same time rooting for us to come away with a victory.”
—Jon Rothstein highlights five big questions heading into the ACC men’s basketball season.
—It’s another big weekend for the third-ranked and undefeated Louisville volleyball team, which is on the road to face Clemson on Friday and No. 18 Georgia Tech on Sunday. Here’s a preview of the weekend ahead.
—Malik has it rolling right now.
—The latest Crunch Zone podcast is here.
—Air Force and Colorado State have now decided to turn down the AAC and stay in the Mountain West.
—Michael McCammon answers some Louisville-Wake questions for Demon Deacon Digest.
—Jeff Greer’s latest Cardinal hoops newsletter looks at the Kaleb Glenn commitment and overall importance of the 2023 recruiting class for Chris Mack.
By the 2023-24 season, Louisville’s older core may very well be a mix of Dre Davis, JJ Traynor, Matt Cross, Roosevelt Wheeler, Gabe Wiznitzer and Mike James, but because the 2022-23 campaign feels like a potentially money-making season especially for James, Traynor and Wheeler, even that group may look very different by summer 2023.
That means Louisville has to put in a major effort in the Class of 2023 recruiting cycle to infuse fresh talent into the program, and not just as depth adds but potential starters. Glenn is in that category, and the other promising prospects Louisville is pursuing are mostly in that vein, too. The Cards have an ambitious recruiting big board for the 2023 group.
Lead guards Kylan Boswell and Isaiah Collier are top-20, five-star prospects. George Washington III, Jared McCain, Dusty Stromer, Taison Chatman, Lawrent Rice and Reed Sheppard are also highly-rated guards/wings. Xavier Booker and Brandon White are seemingly the center targets, and both are top-notch prospects. It’s a talented list, and other names will either pop up down the line or are on the radar and we don’t know about them yet. (I thought it was interesting Glenn mentioned pushing for point guard Jeremy Fears in this On3 story from his commitment.)
The bottom line: Glenn is a pivotal piece to Mack’s program not only because of his hometown status, as important as that is, but also because of what he represents. Glenn, plus whoever makes up his class, is the future of Louisville hoops, and the transition to the next generation of Cards basketball is a lot closer than it might feel.
—Ahead of tomorrow’s Ole Miss-Alabama showdown in Tuscaloosa, here’s an entertaining read on Nick Saban, Lane Kiffin, and the year that changed ‘Bama football forever.
—The U of L men’s and women’s cross country teams are set for the annual Live in Lou Cross Country Classic at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park.
—Wake Forest is expecting a massive group of recruits to attend tomorrow’s game against the Cards.
—Louisville Report’s Matt McGavic is taking the Cards over the Deacs by a point.
—The Athletic’s Dana O’Neil takes a close look at Providence’s Friar Dom, the creepiest mascot in sports.
—The CJ has a photo gallery from the first day of hoops practice.
—Former Trinity star Ta’Shawn McBroom has Oldham County football at 6-0 after last night’s win over Eastern.
—Deadspin’s Chuck Modiano has an evisceration of Lamar haters that is well worth your time.
You also can’t trust PFF, and many other advanced QB metrics that consistently fail to accurately measure production of dual-threat quarterbacks. If you created some formula that does not rate Lamar as a top-50 player in 2021, or Cam Newton as a top-10 QB in 2015 after his 15-1, 45 TD MVP season (see QB DVOA and DYAR, Football Outsiders) — then you need a new formula. Go back to the lab. And be sure it addresses three separate levels of Lamar’s greatness:
1. Lamar’s Passing Production: It’s historic just by itself. When compared with QB greats at FIRST 1,000 passes, Lamar is top-5 in NFL passer rating; touchdowns; and TD-to-INT ratio (3.5) which also ranks 3rd all-time after Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers. And he did all this with Marquise Brown and Willie Snead as his primary wide receivers.
2. Lamar’s Rushing Production: Compared with others at this stage, Lamar is also the best rushing QB of all time (see more on that below). He has run for 700 more yards than Michael Vick, while producing TDs like Cam. Isolating his passing stats independent of his rushing stats inherently devalues Lamar’s impact. When adding his 21 rushing TDs, his true Total TD/INT ratio to start his career is a staggering 91-20 ratio (more on that as well).
3. Lamar’s Team Impact: Lamar is the Aaron Donald of offense. Donald changes nearly every Rams play to an 11 vs. 10 or 11 vs. 9 advantage as offenses use 2-3 guys to block him as teammates rack up tackles Donald creates. Teams also use extra men to shadow Lamar. He freezes defenders that open up both passing lanes for average receivers and running lanes for average running backs. Even assessing Lamar’s impact solely on his amazing stats is as short-sighted as assessing Donald’s by his sacks and tackles.
Instead of properly evaluating Jackson, too many statisticians and hi-tech Bill Polians are incorrectly assessing No. 1; severely devaluing No. 2; and just plain ignoring No. 3 because they can’t quantify it. Part of No. 3 shows up in his teams winning a staggering 80 percent of his games (32-8), after taking over a 4-5 team that missed the playoffs the prior three seasons.
—In ACC football action last night, Virginia topped Miami thanks to a doinked field goal with no time left on the clock.
—Perfect Game ranks Louisville baseball’s 2022 recruiting class as the 6th-best in the country.
—With unionization now on the table for college athletes, Ross Dellenger writes that the next frontier in college sports is on the way.
—U of L hoops recruit Jared McCain (2023) gives an inside look at his official visit to Louisville in this video.
—Two offenses that have been prolific in recent years, Clemson and Oklahoma, have been wheezing and sputtering through the season’s first month. The common thread? An inability to establish the run against defenses that are daring them to.
—You can check out a video interview with Male High star and recent U of L commit Kaleb Glenn here.
—The Broncos’ official website covers the similar paths Teddy Bridgewater and Lamar Jackson took to the NFL.
Both quarterbacks are from South Florida, Bridgewater from Miami Northwestern Senior High School and Jackson from Boynton Beach Community High School.
Both quarterbacks were given four-star ratings by Rivals.com, Bridgewater the sixth-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2011 and Jackson the 17th-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2015.
Both quarterbacks matriculated to the University of Louisville, where they each earned conference player of the year honors. Jackson, of course, also won the 2016 Heisman Trophy.
Both quarterbacks fell to the bottom of the first round, as the Vikings and Ravens traded up to select Bridgewater and Jackson, respectively.
And on Sunday, both quarterbacks will meet for the first time in their careers in Denver in a Week 4 matchup between the Broncos and Ravens.
“It means a lot,” Bridgewater said Wednesday of their connection. “It’s a unique bond. We’re both from South Florida — 32nd pick in the draft. [We] both have strong mothers. [We] have so much in common, and I’m happy for all the success that he’s had in his career. I’ve been following him since he got to Louisville. … It’s great that he’s made all the strides that he’s made throughout the course of his career. I’m looking forward to just watching him compete against our defense. I’ll be rooting for him, but at the same time, rooting for us to come away with the victory.”
Their careers have been less similar in the NFL, as Bridgewater made a Pro Bowl early in his second season before suffering a career-threatening injury in 2016. Jackson, of course, won NFL MVP honors in his second season in the league.
—Louisville football is hosting Kids’ Day on October 9th for the Virginia game. For more information and the chance to register your kid, go here.
—ESPN’s FPI gives Louisville just a 2.8 percent chance of winning the ACC’s Atlantic Division. Wake Forest, for what it’s worth, currently has a 14.2 percent chance.
—Preseason college basketball publications appear to once again be undervaluing Scotty Davenport and his Bellarmine Knights.
—All four of the major local college football teams are facing top 25 opponents on Saturday.
—Kentucky QB Will Levis has gone too far this time.
—World Exposure Report is out with its 2021-22 ACC women’s basketball preview. The publication picks Louisville to finish second in the conference, behind only NC State.
—With the NWSL in a state of turmoil amid rampant sexual harassment allegations, Racing Louisville FC’s scheduled Friday night match has been canceled.
—Athlon is going with the Deacs by a touchdown.
Offensively, both teams can put up points, but the difference on Saturday will be the Wake Forest defense. The Cardinals will probably have more success than the Demon Deacons’ other opponents, but Wake should be able to generate enough pressure to make things difficult on Cunningham and perhaps force a turnover or two. On offense, Wake Forest should be able to run the ball well enough to set up play-action for Hartman and a solid corps of pass-catchers. Having this one in Winston-Salem could also make a difference.
Prediction: Wake Forest 34, Louisville 27
—Fast starts are nothing new for the 4-0 Demon Deacons. The task now for Dave Clawson and company is to be stronger in October and November.
—Wake Forest writer Les Johns answers five questions about Saturday’s game.
—After a big game against Florida State, Yasir Abdullah is ready to keep that momentum rolling in Winston-Salem.
—Adonis Boone is the first clip here.
—The CBS college hoops crew picks their favorite non-conference games of the upcoming season.
—Red Zone style viewing of college basketball games from the same conference would be sort of awesome.
—New video boards are coming to the KFC Yum Center.
—The CJ has three keys to victory for the Cardinal football team against Wake.
—Former St. X QB Desmond Ridder does not fear Notre Dame Stadium.
Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder said OC Mike Denbrock warned him about how loud Notre Dame would be on Saturday. Ridder’s response? “I told him it shouldn’t be loud for too long.” #Bearcats— Brandon Saho (@BrandonSaho) September 28, 2021
— On the eve of the 50th Anniversary of Title IX, the U of L Athletic Department launched The New Standard, a capital campaign with the goal of raising $10 million with funds directly impacting U of L’s women’s sports.
—The U of L women’s basketball tip-off luncheon is set for Oct. 29.
—College Football News believes turnovers will be the difference tomorrow afternoon in a 34-24 Wake Forest win.
—The Mike Rutherford Show is on from 3-6 on 1450AM/96.1FM this afternoon breaking down the latest NCAA ugliness and getting you ready for tomorrow’s big game against Wake. You can stream the show here.
—And finally, beat Wake Forest.