My other lifelong obsession besides University of Louisville Cardinal athletics is rock & roll.
The Allman Brothers Band were always my faves.
Until the last decade or so when, though they have lost no luster, they’ve been supplanted in my soul by their sole and true heirs, the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
I walked out of a TTB show in Naptown this past July, wondering to myself, “Is that really the best live set of music I’ve ever heard in person?”
Before reviewing the show, I parsed what that means, the parameters of “best” when it comes to musical performance.
I have no intention of saying or parsing that last night’s amazing Cardinal victory over Notre Dame was the best in program history.
Nor the most fun . . . though maybe.
Nor the most significant. There’s West Virginia, Florida in the Sugar Bowl, and several others worth considering including that smackdown of the Crimson Tide in the Fiesta Bowl on the day we buried my dad.
But, for many reasons, factors on and off the field, U of L 33 Notre Dame 20 on October 7, 2023 may be the most special.
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There is no need to throw out statistics underscoring the dominance with which the Irish were dismantled (the descriptor used at a key ND fan site) and exposed. (OK, maybe a few numbers for emphasis.)
What resonates for me is the imagery.
How the Cards’ Defense, steadily developing over U of L’s six Ws in a row, completely controlled the game.
So, I shall say the starters’ names (Not to diss the subs, who obviously contributed): Dezmond Tell, Ashton Gillotte, Ramon Puryear, TJ Quinn, Quincy Riley, Devin Neal, Jaylin Alderman, Jarvis Brownlee, Stephen Herron, Cam’Ron Kelly, and Ben Perry. Mason Reiger too, on behalf of all the others.
How Ron English’s charges held the nation’s leading rusher Audric Estime to 20 yards in 10 carries. 44 yards by the whole team.
How they sacked Sam Hartman five times.
How the Offensive Line bullied the visitors.
So, I shall say the starters names (Not to diss the subs, who also obviously contributed): Bryan Hudson, who apparently hasn’t practiced for two weeks yet played every snap, Willie Tyler, Renato Brown, Michael Gonzalez, and Eric Miller.
How Jawhar Jordan continues to amaze.
What’s fascinating about his truly extraordinary TD scampers, a 45 yarder and one from 21 yards out, is that both featured great work by the OL and others line opening a gateway, then top quality toughness, elusiveness, acceleration and intuitive route taking by JJ.
How Jack Plummer was a steady game manager.
FYI, he remains undefeated as signal caller in The Ville.
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Here’s what I know to be TRUE.
U of L OWNS Sam Hartman. !!!!!!
This fellow should not be allowed out of his apartment without permission from a pigskinner wearing cardinal red.
Three picks, after coming into the game with zero in 147 attempts this season.
A couple fumbles.
Against Louisville, he’s committed 13 turnovers in 6 games. Which really isn’t the whole story. Six last season, including one terrible horrible nightmare of a quarter. Five Saturday night.
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Even though the Cards ended the opening half knotted at 7, after a missed FG, then started the 3dQ with a fumble on the very first play, resulting in a go ahead FG by the visiting Irish, U of L was ever in charge.
The victors immediately answered, when Brock Travelstead split the uprights from 44 yards out. He also connected from 45, 32 and 35.
Louisville is Marcus Freeman’s daddy.
The ND coach’s oh so very desperate go-for-it on 4th & 11 at ND’s own 35 yard line with more than nine minutes left was a sign he knew that Truth: Louisville was never going to be denied.
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Then there’s the whole Brohm Family deal.
Unequivocally the First Family of Football on the Belknap Campus.
Which I expect will become a national story this week, in the aftermath. Already, the Cards made the #10 spot in Nicole Auerbach’s Weekly Top 10 at theathletic, a place reserved for a where-did-they-come from up and comer.
And they got the Team Helmet Sticker on ESPN’s College Football Final.
Jeff Brohm has already been referred to — incorrectly — as a Prodigal Son.
He ain’t no prodigal son. He ain’t no senator’s son.
But he is the Favorite Son.
Brohm is the first Cardinal coach to start his era 6-0 since Tom King, who roamed the sidelines in the days of Pudge Heffelfinger. Read: yesteryore. Like in the 20s. 1920s.
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The other image I shall mention is the handsomest guy in college football, Sam Hartman sitting on the bench. Staring forlornly in to the middle distance. With a bloodied ear that looked like he’d pissed off Mike Tyson.
As Peyton Siva and Jack Harlow led the red-clad throng in a post victory field storm.
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Saturday morning, during my habitual/ obsessive/ ritualistic pre-breakfast stint on the elliptical, I listened to Tedschi Trucks’ incredible live redo of the entirety of the Layla album. (On a boombox. Old school, I don’t need no stinkin’ earbuds.)
Saturday night I put my head on the pillow, smiling, sated, serene, my favorite football team still undefeated.
— c d kaplan