The University of Louisville played as close to a perfect football Saturday afternoon as it has in a long, long while. Perhaps ever.
Cardinals 41. Syracuse 3.
Cliché Alert. As we wags are wont to say for ironic emphasis, the game wasn’t that close.
And, of course, I’ll get to some highlights. But, as is my tic, let’s take the long and winding road.
Besides, as a charter member of NAVCFWUS (National Association of Verbose College Football Wags of the United States), by club rules, I must start peripherally and work toward the actual subject matter.
(Oh, how easy to ease joke around, big victory in the books.)
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There have been a number of astounding successes for the two major men’s sports at U of L that were frankly impossible to imagine decades ago for those who have been fans since mid 20th C.
Three national basketball championships.
Membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
But none quite as dumbfounding to conjure a vision of than a University of Louisville Cardinal raising the Heisman Trophy.
Lamar Jackson was honored Saturday.
Incredibly talented. Legitimately humble and grateful. Truly decent. Absolutely deserving of every accolade for his play and life here in Louisville, and in Baltimore.
But, for all of those feats he performed on the Cardinal Stadium turf, I’m not sure he ever threw TD aerials as perfect as some tossed by Malik Cunningham against the Orange.
After the 41 yarder to Jordan Watkins, I wrote in my notes, “Great Pass.” After watching a replay on the screen, I added, “Perfect Pass.”
The scoring throw to Tyler Harrell was similarly beauteous.
My favorite might have been the short one to Ahmari Huggins-Bruce from six yards out. It was a play when Cunningham, given the space, would have normally tucked and run it to paydirt. Instead, roving to his left, he flipped a perfect little spiral for the score.
In the first half, after which the Cards had a comfortable 35-3 advantage, MC’s passer rating was 277.3.
Not sure what it was for the game. 13/18. 209 yards. 4 TDs. No picks.
Maybe those of you better at arithmetic than me will wish to figure it out. Here’s the formula:
NCAA Passer Rating = ((8.4 x Passing Yards) + (330 x Touchdown Passes) + (100 x Number of Completions) – (200 x Interceptions)) ÷ Passing Attempts.
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Jalen Mitchell and the Offensive Line stamped their signatures on the game from the get go.
After the D — more about that group of excellents in a minute — held ‘Cuse to just a couple first downs, U of L got possession on its 23 yard line. Mitchell to the left for 39 yards. Mitchell to the left for 28 yards. Cunningham to the left for a 1st & Goal at the 6 yard marker.
Two plays later, finally running a different play to the right, the Cards were in the endzone.
Louisville never looked back. The rout was on.
Oh yeah, Mitchell ran for 102 net yards on the day.
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The visitors only got two more first downs before the Lamar Celebration at the half.
Here’s the totality of Syracuse’s futility against Louisville’s Defense. Their drives the rest of the day ended like this.
First Half: FG. Punt. Punt. Punt. Punt. Punt.
Second Half: Fumble. (On 4th & Goal at the Cards’ 2, during which recovery, Greedy Vance came within a grabbed shoelace of taking it 95 yards to the house.) Downs. Punt.
The Cardinals garnered 8 Tackles For Loss, including a couple sacks.
The Cardinals held Syracuse to 184 total yards. Domination.
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I’ve named a few Cards who stood out.
Which is, to be honest, not fair.
Everyone who played deserves credit, deserves mention.
So I shall.
Copied from the official box score, here are U of L players who participated, but didn’t start:
Louisville: 1F-Johnson, J., 2H-Cooley, T., 2E-Jordan, J., 2F-Alderman, J., 4D-Puryear, R., 4G-Sherman, F., 5-Werts, S., 6-Conley, E., 8A-Bryant, H., 8-HArrell, T., 9F-Hodges, B., 9A-Huggins-Bruce, 10-Perry, B., 11-Okeke, N., 14-Dallas, M., 20-Brown, V., 23-Cloyd, K., 24-Hall, M., 25-Minkins, J., 26-Walker, K., 27-Duncan, K., 28-Franklin, T., 31-Edwards, Z., 32-Turner, J., 35-Peterson, Z., 36-Burkley, M., 40-Travelstead, B., 41-Martin, I., 42-Smith, A., 43-Reiger, J., 45-Martin, D., 49-Vassett, M., 54-Banks, C., 57-Kinnaird, D., 61-Hudson, B., 67-Kandra, L., 68-Gonzalez, M., 86-Downing, E., 90-Turner, Jc., 91-Dorsey, D., 93-Dawson, J., 95-Reiger, M., 96-Sorensen, R., 97-Gillotte, A., 98-Boykin, J., -Brenowitz,Drew.
On O: WR 1 Watkins,J. QB 3 Cunningham, M. RB 15 Mitchell, J. WR 18 Marshall, J. OL 55 Chandler, C. OL 56 Brown, R. OL 66 Bentley, C. OL 70 Reid, T. OL 74 Boone, A. TE 83 Ford, M. TE 84 Melton, D.
On D: DB 2 Jones, C. DL 6A Diaby, Y. LB 9 Avery, C. DB 12 Cole, Q. CB 2D Vance, G. LB 22 Abdullah, Y. DL 29 Peterson, T. LB 3G Williams,Jaylen DB 38 Fagot, J. LB 44 Jones, D. DL 92 Clark, M.
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For all the grief they’ve gotten from an impatient, disgruntled fanbase, the coaching staff deserves some dap.
Scott Satterfield. Bryan Brown. The whole lot of them
Given the heartbreaking close Ls recently, it was masterful work fashioning the squad to give the kind of performance they did Saturday.
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No penalties in the 1st half. Only three for the game.
Was it the first time this season the Cardinals ran that little TuTu flip shovel pass, this time to Huggins-Bruce? Went for 9 yards on 1st down on U of L’s second drive of the day.
During Thursday night’s NFL telecast, Louisville got some good pub. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman were praising Lamar and Johnny U and the school that spawned them.
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Next. Duke. Thursday. In Durham.
Victory = Bowl Game.
— c d kaplan