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Tuesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Three former players from the 1958 Sun Bowl champs were in attendance to watch Louisville stomp Virginia Tech on Saturday.

—Spread check (football): Louisville by 20.5.

—Louisville has added Jacksonville State to its home football schedule for next season to replace the game that Indiana bought out of. The Gamecocks are currently coached by former U of L rival Rich Rodriguez.

—Highlights from the Louisville women’s basketball team’s season-opening win over Cincinnati are here.

—Louisville has a 50 percent chance of playing in the Orange Bowl, according to Bet Kentucky’s latest odds.

—Despite its lopsided win over Virginia Tech, Louisville players were shut out of the ACC’s weekly awards.

—Possibly related: Isaac Guerendo was PFF’s third highest-graded running back for the week that was in college football.

—Even with a win, Louisville made Sports Illustrated’s list of the most notable results from college basketball’s opening night.

Louisville 94, UMBC 93 (men)

The fall of Louisville men’s basketball has fascinated me for years now. Once one of college basketball’s most consistently reliable programs, the Cardinals hit rock bottom last season at 4–28. They were easily the worst power-conference team in the nation and one of the worst teams in Division I, ranked 290th in KenPom.

And things aren’t looking better this year. Louisville lost an exhibition game to D-II Kentucky Wesleyan last week and barely survived last night against UMBC. The go-ahead basket came on an alley-oop after a sloppy possession, and the Cardinals escaped with the victory after UMBC missed a free throw that would have tied the game.

It took Louisville until Dec. 14 to win its first game last year, so I guess this is an improvement. But playing a squeaker against an America East Conference team to open the season doesn’t bode well for the rest of the Cardinals’ year.

—Louisville fell 30 spots from No. 109 to No. 139 on KenPom after last night’s win over UMBC.

—How former Cards fared at their new homes last night:

El Ellis (Arkansas): 8 points, 4 assists, 3 turnovers in a 93-59 win over Alcorn State

Jae’Lyn Withers (North Carolina): 4 points, 1 rebounds, 2 steals in an 86-70 win over Radford

Sydney Curry (Grand Canyon): 8 points, 9 rebounds in an 86-67 win over SEMO

Devin Ree (Louisiana Tech): 4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal in an 81-73 loss to Colorado State

Fabio Basili (UT-Arlington): 6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal in a 75-71 win over Oral Roberts

Samuell Williamson (SMU): 4 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals in an 82-63 win over SWAOG

Quinn Slazinski (West Virginia): 18 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block in a 67-59 win over Missouri State

Kamari Lands (Arizona State), Josh Nickelberry (Florida State) and Gabe Wiznitzer (Ohio) have not played their season-openers yet.

—Jeff Walz is the fifth highest-paid coach in women’s college basketball for this season. The highest paid got her ass handed to her by Colorado last night.

—Hate to see it.

—James Madison’s upset of No. 4 Michigan State was Tom Izzo’s first November home loss in his 29 year head coaching career. It also marked the first time a preseason top five team has lost a season opener at home to an unranked opponent since Western Kentucky upset Kentucky way back in 2001.

—The Heisman Trophy race is essentially down to two quarterbacks from two rival schools.

—NCAA loses in court, part 15,000.

—Male High running back Shammai Gates has committed to U of L as a preferred walk-on.

—On3’s hypothetical 12-team playoff for this season would have Louisville playing at Alabama in round one.

—Louisville Pizza Week returns on Monday.

—Here’s a better view as last night’s frenetic final moments.

Just like we drew it up. High art.

—C.L. Brown writes that while their programs are in much different places, Kenny Payne and John Calipari are facing similar challenges this season.

—The Big Ten formally notified Michigan of possible impending disciplinary action in connection to the school’s ongoing sign-stealing scandal.

—The Athletic’s daily newsletter has Lamar Jackson as the NFL’s midseason MVP.

Midseason MVP: Lamar Jackson

Easy call, especially after Tua Tagovailoa’s tough day. Remember when we thought the Ravens would trade Jackson before the season? And remember when no one made any worthwhile offer? Jackson has been electric this year. He’s completing a career-high 72 percent of his passes and is on pace for fewer interceptions than he threw in 2019, when he was the unanimous choice for MVP. A-plus.

—Virginia head coach Tony Elliott said during his media availability on Monday that quarterback Tony Muskett has been labeled “day-to-day” for the team’s Thursday night game at Louisville.

—Good Jawhar Jordan story from the CJ’s Alexis Cubit here.

—Louisville Jeffs just get it.

—BetSided likes the over in the Louisville-Virginia game Thursday night.

—The Cards have been absolutely dominant at home this season.

—Gobbler Country reviews all the ugliness from Virginia Tech’s loss to Louisville.

An Offensive Roadmap in Crayon

The Hokie Offense was not prepared, at all, for Louisville’s defensive approach. On the first play Kyron Drones missed an obvious blitz and so did the entire left side of the offensive line. There was no protection adjustment and Drones ended up pasted deep in the backfield before he could even make the first read or plant his feet. It looked like a deep shot pattern set that might have had a bubble outlet. But Louisville did to Drones what the Hokies needed to do to Plummer. Louisville spent the entire game in the box, sending the student body after Tech’s backfield. Louisville routinely had a single safety over, and nearly every player in the box or within a few yards of the box. They blitzed nearly all the time, and keyed any player in the backfield who could run. The pass rush just blew through blocks or got off them so quickly that Drones didn’t have a chance to go anywhere meaningful with the ball. After the first drive failure the entire offensive game plan needed to be dumped in the trash, and it wasn’t.

This was where the OC needed to make major in quarter adjustments, get Drones out of the pocket, go to intermediate fast routes behind the vacated zones at 8-12 yards, and string out the overly aggressive Cardinal rush. No such luck. Drones was repeatedly dropped back into a collapsing pocket with not enough first read or hot routes to hit on 3-second play executions. If you can’t do that, you can’t beat the kind of defense that Louisville put up.

Wrinkles That Were Not Ironed Out

The Hokie Defense was completely flummoxed by Brohm’s mix of Modern Shotgun and old-fashioned Power ‘I’ combination. The defensive line was getting moved around because there was no slow developing running or passing play to adjust and beat blocks. Louisville was drive-blocking runs that were coming past the first level faster than the defensive line could close down the gaps. This also meant that a defensive mid-field was out of position to stop the run. There was a near total breakdown in the run fits for the linebackers, and Nasir Peoples was making entirely too many tackles. When your Safety is making the majority of the run tackles, you have a serious run contain in the box problem.

No one could get off of blocks in the box, and no one within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage was even near the ball to make a play.

Tech was beaten on the ground. It wasn’t even necessary for Brohm and company to pass all that much. Louisville challenged the Tech defense to stop the run, and Tech never adjusted to try and stop it. When they did pinch into the box to try, they didn’t stick with the adjustment. The defense made a couple of stops but it was always a ‘too little too late’ sort of affair.

And the final “bad” was the total collapse of the team from the first failed three and out. The team just didn’t seem with it on both sides of the line of scrimmage, after the first series, and Louisville’s opening ground assault. It was like all of the air came out, and instead of getting their backs up, and getting angry at something, the Hokies just sort of faded into resignation. Because Louisville was running, their scoring was way behind a normal collegiate pace, and Tech wasn’t really completely out of the game until the 2nd half opening drive. But no one seemed to want to take advantage of the fact that Louisville was often playing “caveman” 1970’s style football.

—Athlon is predicting a 39-14 Louisville win over Virginia.

—Bilal Powell says that a lot of former players didn’t feel welcome to come back while Scott Satterfield was the coach. Powell also notes that Jeff Brohm was the coach who originally recruited him to come to Louisville.

—Talk louder for the people in the back, J.D.

—Greg McElroy believes that Louisville is a legitimate CFP contender.

—We’ll see how high (or if) the Cardinals jump when the latest CFP rankings are revealed tonight at 7 on ESPN.

—This video — which features a subtle cameo from John L. Smith — is incredible.

—Only Ohio State has more wins of power conference opponents with winning records than the Cards do.

—Western Kentucky rolled to a 90-64 win over the Kentucky Wesleyan team that upset Louisville last week.

—ACC hoops scores from opening night:

No. 2 Duke 92, Dartmouth 54
No. 13 Miami 101, NJIT 60
No. 19 North Carolina 86, Radford 70
Clemson 78, Winthrop 56
NC State 72, The Citadel 59
Notre Dame 70, Niagara 63
Pittsburgh 100, North Carolina A&T 52
Virginia 80, Tarleton State 50
Syracuse 83, New Hampshire 72
Georgia Tech 84, Georgia Southern 62
Virginia Tech 100, Coppin State 55
Wake Forest 101, Elon 78
Boston College 89, Fairfield 70

—Goalkeeper Jordyn Bloomer has agreed to a new deal that will keep her with Racing Louisville though the 2024 season, with a team option for 2025.

—Picture of the year in college hoops may have happened on night one.

—A photo gallery from Louisville’s win over UMBC is here.

—Tim Sullivan writes that last night’s win was a reprieve for Kenny Payne, but that it might only be temporary.

Change is not always good, but it is change. Thus Kenny Payne is competing not only against his opponents, but against the expectations of a fan base accustomed to contending for championships.

“Obviously this is Louisville, right?” Payne said Monday night. “Kansas, Louisville, Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina — do not come to these schools if you cannot take pressure. You are amongst the best of the best. Obviously, this program has had a lot of things that have happened to go the wrong way. Our job, my job, their job is to fix it…

“They just assume here, we are going to win, and everything is bad because it is bad. But there is something else to it. We are cleaning it up and I am proud of that. I am proud of that because the type of kids we have in this program are the type of character kids that you guys should be proud of. As we go along, we are going to beat some teams, but we are going to lose some games. We are not going to go undefeated, but we are going to show through our character and work ethic that this program is headed in the right direction.”

This much may be true, but the pace of Payne’s progress thus far suggests a battleship being turned in a bathtub. Were it not for UMBC’s ponderous foul problems, which enabled James and UofL’s guards to drive toward the basket with growing impunity, Monday’s game could easily have ended gloomily. Had the Retrievers’ Khydarius Smith made the second of two free throws with 2.4 seconds remaining, the outcome would likely have been settled in overtime.

—Regardless of how it came about, Payne said his team “needed” to taste victory on opening night.

—And finally, the Mike Rutherford Show will react to all the madness of opening night from 3-5:30 this afternoon on 1450AM/96.1FM. You can stream the show here.