The Cardinals and their fans hope Citrus will get the bad taste out of their mouths

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The Louisville Football team carried a lot of momentum from the end of the 2015 season into 2016… The excitement of spring ball and summer practice was a catalyst to a 4-0 start to the regular season. We watched as our Cardinals made it to that 5th spot in the College Football Playoff Poll. The Cardinals started the regular season being compared to a red hot-rod going up and down the field in those chrome helmets but somewhere along the way the tires went flat.

Beating Florida State with the ESPN College Gameday crew on site was the zenith of the season and losing at home to arch rival Kentucky to end the regular season was the nadir. This team was making some of the same mistakes throughout but the effort in those early games masked some of those issues that cost this team in the end.

-The Cardinals offensive line gave up 3.25 sacks a game this season ranked 121 out of 128 NCAA FBS schools.

-The Cardinals averaged 7.75 penalties a game this season ranked 118 out of 128 NCAA FBS schools.

-The Cardinals had 21 fumbles this season ranked 128 out of 128 NCAA FBS schools.

-The Cardinals had 31 turnovers this season ranked 124 out of 128 NCAA FBS schools.

When this team got complacent they stopped getting better. This Louisville team never got better than they were during that 4-0 start to the season. In the final two games of the season the effort we had seen early on was nonexistent. These guys appeared to have lost all that great momentum they had in September and October… and will now have to dig deep to get it back.

The game on Saturday is important to the legacy of a great senior class, it is important for the guys who came to Louisville for their last chance, it is important to Cardinal fans who deserve to see their team end the season with a win and the game on Saturday is important to regain some positive momentum headed into next season. The attitudes in the weight room and on that practice field next spring and summer will be a lot different coming off a Bowl win as opposed to three straight losses. There is a lot of discussion around this time of year about how much these Bowl games really matter… for the Cardinals and their fans it’s the only thing that matters now.

Louisville will be making its 21st bowl appearance when they face LSU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl and looking for its sixth bowl win in the last eight Bowl games. The Cardinals offense enters the Bowl game averaging 45.3 points per game with 256.8 rushing yards and 302 passing yards per game. Having won 14 of his last 18 starts our Heisman winner Lamar Jackson is completing 57.6% of his passes for 3390 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. Jackson has rushed for 1538 yards and 21 touchdowns. Brandon Radcliff has added 877 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns for the Cardinals. James Quick has caught 42 passes for 688 yards and 6 touchdowns, while Cole Hikutini has caught 49 passes for 656 yards and 8 scores. This Louisville offense will be facing a very good defense on Saturday. The biggest key will be the offensive line. Lamar can’t win this side of the ball alone. It’s going to take a balanced attack. That means time for plays to develop and open running lanes. Coach Klenakis’s guys were able to rise to the occasion last year in the Music City Bowl. Can they do it again?

The Louisville defense is giving up 23.3 points per game with 110 rushing yards and 206.3 passing yards per game. Leading this unit is Keith Kelsey with 81 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack, Stacy Thomas with 74 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 1 sack and Chucky Williams with 45 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 3 interceptions. Josh Harvey-Clemons and Zykiesis both have 61 tackles on the season. The Cardinals defense will be without sack leader James Hearns but still have Devonte Fields coming off the edge. This unit will be playing with a lot of emotion. They will be playing without one of their defensive leaders in Hearns and it will be the last time a lot of these guys will be wearing a Cardinal uniform. I think Coach Grantham will have them ready.

LSU lost 2 of their last 4 games and finished tied for 2nd in the SEC West. The LSU offense is averaging 28.3 points per game with 238.1 rushing yards and 187.6 passing yards per game. QB Danny Etling isn’t anywhere near as good as the guy he will be facing but gets the job done completing 60% of his passes for 1906 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. The Tigers leading rusher is big powerful running back Derrius Guice. He has rushed for 1249 yards and 14 touchdowns. Their speed back Leonard Fournette will not play. Their leading receivers are Malachi Dupre who has caught 34 passes for 454 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Travin Dural who has 28 catches for 280 yards and 1 score. Who knows what to expect from this LSU offense. What will it do to this unit’s chemistry with Fournette not playing? Or will affect them at all?

This LSU team can put points on the board but it is their top ranked defense they rely on. The LSU defense is giving up 16.4 points per game with 121.8 rushing yards and 201.2 passing yards per game. The leaders of this unit are Linebacker Kendell Beckwith with 91 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 1 sack, Linebacker Duke Riley with 85 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 1 interception. Safety Jamal Adams has 70 tackles, and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux has 58 tackles. Defensive end Arden Key leads this unit with 10 sacks. I think we will get this units best shot on Saturday. A good defense takes pride in being able to stop great players. They have their chance to shut down a pretty good one Saturday.

This game comes down to very good offense vs a very good defense. There will be a lot of speed and athleticism on both sides of the field but it will all come down to emotion. There will be a team that wants it more. LSU can lose this game and rely on the benefit of that SEC bias to be right back in playoff conversations again next season. If Louisville loses this game they will start next year with a very different narrative. The Cardinals need this game more and if they play like they need it more they should be able to secure the victory. If they come out uninspired like they did in the two games to end the regular season it will be a long off season.

It’s gut check time for the Louisville football program. They have faced a lot of adversity on and off the field over the last couple of months. Sure, individual awards are great and it was special for the program and the fans getting to celebrate a Heisman Trophy. But in the end football is a team sport and this team needs a win. Let’s hope the Citrus Bowl gets the bad taste out of our mouths and we can head into next season on a high note. GO CARDS!

The 50th Meeting Between the Cards & Cats


We are just a few weeks removed from the Cats and Cards doing battle on the gridiron to end the regular season of college football. On Wednesday night they will take the battle to the basketball court. This week we have flown our flags a little higher and wore our gear with that little extra boost of pride. This is the Cards and the Cats and it just doesn’t get any bigger in college basketball.

“Two elite teams meet once again, eternal bragging rights (at least for another year) Hall of Fame coaches who can’t stand each other. It’s not always a pretty watch, but it’s compelling TV and the best soap opera in the sport at the moment.” -Sports Illustrated

It is the eve of one of the best rivalries in college sports… If you grew up in the state of Kentucky then you chose your side very early in your life. I was singing the Louisville fight song to my son on the night he was born. I picked a side 30 years ago and have never regretted my decision. I love my Cardinals and I love this rivalry. Rivalries are what define sports and every competition needs a great rivalry. We have one of the best rivalries in all of sports and it deserves the credit. The Rivalry has given us many enjoyable moments and now it’s time to have another.

This will again be a highly anticipated Battle of the Bluegrass with both teams ranked within the top 10. It has been the Cats who have won the last 8 out of 10 in this battle head-to-head including 4 straight, but when looking at their entire body of work these teams have had similar success in the last 30 years. A series that started in 1913 these old rivals will meet for the 50th time on Wednesday night. Kentucky holds the all-time lead in this series 34-15.

NCAA Final Fours

Kentucky – 17 (Tied 2nd all-time)

Louisville – 10 (Tied 6th all-time)

NCAA Tournament Championships

Kentucky – 8 (2nd all-time)

Louisville – 3 (Tied 7th all-time)

NCAA Tournament Appearances

Kentucky – 54 (1st all-time)

Louisville – 41 (5th all-time)

Kentucky beat North Carolina 103-100 in Las Vegas in its last game as Malik Monk scored a UK freshman record 47 points and De’Andre Fox totaled 24 points and 10 assists. The Wildcats are among the top five nationally in scoring (3rd in the nation, 95.2 ppg), assists (4th, 19.9 apg), scoring margin (4th, +23.5), offensive rebounds (5th, 15.7 per game), and blocked shots (5th, 7.1 bpg). Fox is eighth in the nation averaging 7.2 assists. Fox and Bam Adebayo were preseason All-SEC first team selections, while Monk and Isaiah Briscoe were second team All-SEC preseason picks. Kentucky is No. 9 in the RPI, No. 4 in the Sagaring Ratings and No. 4 by Ken Pomeroy through Dec. 18.

Louisville leads the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency through Dec. 18. The Cardinals are fifth in the nation in field goal percentage defense (.359), 11th in scoring defense (59.4 ppg), fourth in blocked shots (7.2 per game), 22nd in three-point field goal defense (.287), 24th in turnover margin (+4.6), 11th in rebound margin (+9.3), fifth in rebounds per game (45.0), third in offensive rebounds per game (16.1) and 15th in scoring margin (+19.1). Six of the Cardinals 11 opponents this season have scored under 60 points. Eight of Louisville’s 11 opponents this season have shot below 36 percent from the field and four have shot below 32 percent. Eastern Kentucky shot 35.6 percent in UofL’s last game when the Cardinals limited the Colonels to 16 first-half points. It was the third time UofL has held a team under 20 points in a half this season.

This game as most of them have in the Pitino/Calipari era will come down to good offense vs good defense… The best way to beat Kentucky this season is to play great lock-down defense against their back-court and not let Fox have his way in the lane and not let Monk have many open looks from deep. The Louisville guards also need to brace up in the face of the Wildcats’ defensive harassment. Kentucky still has a lot of length and talent in their front-court but unlike previous seasons this Louisville team has plenty of talent and height of their own to challenge them here. According to Kenpom’s advance analytics the Cards are #9 in effective height and #19 in average height. The cats are #16 in effective height and #59 in average height.

The Cardinals X-factors on Wednesday night will be the front-court players. If Anas, Mango, Johnson and Spalding can play great defense and grab those offensive/defensive rebounds I really like our chances. They have to neutralize the Kentucky bigs. I also think our bench scoring will come into play in this one. There are always a lot of fouls called in these games. The Cardinals have 327 bench points already this season. Per Kenpom Louisville is ranked 54th in bench minutes. I’ve heard them mock David Levitch and Ryan McMahon… but so did the experts before Tim “Wichita” Henderson led the Cardinals to the Championship game in 2013.

This will be one of the biggest tests of the year for both of these teams. Each has to play to their strengths and attack the others weakness, but as I mentioned above with the player always coming out of nowhere there will be a scenario play out that nobody expected. These rivalry games are packed with emotion and that along with the home crowd will also factor in. I’m looking forward to a great game and an opportunity to knock off this Kentucky group. It has been too long. Should be another great one in the series… Go Cards!

Lamar Jackson Leaps His Way into Cardinal Lore


There have been many great athletes come through the Louisville football program each leaving their mark etched in Cardinal Lore… Young men who make the decision to come be a part of the Cardinal family and let us all be a part of this very important chapter in their lives. We share their highs and their lows and feel proud of them when they succeed.

This season Lamar Jackson left a pretty big mark on the Louisville program and leaped his way into the hearts of the College football world. He won over thousands with his athletic ability and electrifying moves on the football field, but it was the humble, shy, respectful, decent young man off the field that won me over.

When he wasn’t beating himself up with those way too low grades he gave himself after every game he was praising his teammates and coaches. A guy so soft spoken that you had to sometimes struggle to hear in a post-game locker-room, but one who had just been ferocious on the football field.

Lamar Jackson would take the time to sign a young girls cast or to give a kid his wrist band, but did everything he could to avoid the fanfare. Back in September I covered the very first football game of the season. Lamar had 8 touchdowns, 286 yards passing and 119 yards rushing. I took the picture above and after the game against Charlotte the writing was on the wall. But I digress…

After the post-game interviews wrapped up that night in the locker-room I gathered my things and headed to my car. As I walked out Lamar Jackson walked out of the player’s door ahead of me. As he headed out of the gates in front of me there were several groups of fans and players acquaintances. I noticed that Lamar put his ear phones in, pulled his hood up and headed towards Floyd Street.

I always park in the lot over by Lynn Stadium and as I watched Lamar walk down a low lit side walk towards campus I thought to myself here’s a kid who just put his name in a lot of sports conversations walking all alone back to his dorm just like the average college student getting out of a night class.

Lamar didn’t stop by the fanfare that night to accept all of that praise; he didn’t go get into a flashy sports car and drive off with a car load of co-eds… That’s not who Lamar Jackson is.

Lamar Jackson is an unbelievable athlete and I love watching him spin… leap and dive like those characters I played with as a kid on my Nintendo. But nothing impresses me more than how someone with all that ability can be so humble.

Last night Lamar Jackson was awarded the biggest individual prize in college football. He won the Heisman Trophy by gathering all those amazing stats and by being a phenomenal athlete. He earned it… But it was that soft spoken humble guy who clumsy with his words gave all of the credit to his coaches, friends and family who deserved it.

Now back to that Cardinal Lore… my son is 5 years old and I already have him very active in the Cardinal universe. I’ve got to share some pretty cool moments with him already. Last season when he got to stand beside me on the field in the Georgia Dome, this season when Coach Galloway called him over and talked with him during spring practice… I’m trying to create tradition and those memories for him to pass down to his kids someday.

Last night he was with me celebrating the Football programs first Heisman Trophy and I had him out taking a picture with me in front of the Lamar Jackson tribute at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium at 11:30. That’s good stuff folks. And we owe it all to those great Cardinal football players who have helped us make those memories. And we owe it to Lamar Jackson.

Lamar Jackson has added an amazing story to Cardinal Lore and I’m sure it will not be the last. Hopefully we’ll all be right back here a year from now doing this all again. Archie Griffin is the only person to win the Heisman Trophy two times… Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes said of Griffin, “He’s a better young man than he is a football player, and he’s the best football player I’ve ever seen”. Does that remind you of anyone you know..?

Thank You #8

Twas The Night Before the Heisman

As Louisville Football fans we have seen the program soar to prominence over the years. This can be attributed to great administration, great coaches and great players. I remember watching Teddy Bridgewater and saying to myself that it would be a long time before we had a program changing player like that again. I feel like Teddy bridged the gap to help Louisville be a legitimate contender in the college football world. When Teddy was winning a Big East Title with one arm and on one leg to give the Cardinals a berth to the BCS and then shredded the Florida defense to win the Sugar Bowl he was creating a winning legacy that would live on even after he was gone.

Now here we are three years after Teddy Bridgewater threw his last touchdown pass in a Cardinal uniform getting ready to watch the Louisville Football program win it’s very first Heisman Trophy. Lamar Jackson has said Bridgewater is a reason he ended up looking at the Louisville program. While I was thinking to myself years ago, that we wouldn’t see another player like this in a long time little did I know that the next man up was just a few years away from taking over that role. Where Teddy bridged that gap Lamar Jackson has helped the program take a giant leap on to the College Football stage.

Behind the raw athleticism, electrifying play-making and his will to win Lamar Jackson had Louisville in the national conversation and playoff picture for most of the season. Now for those efforts he has himself in a position to win the biggest individual prize in college football. He has been on a whirlwind tour over the last couple of days picking up different hardware along the way but nothing will be as sweet as hoisting that 20-pound bronze statue on Saturday night. The excitement level has reached an all-time high as Cardinal fans show their support by bathing their homes and businesses in Red light for the QB sensation. We all know what this means and how important it is. Especially for that winning legacy to continue.

I had a fan share this great little poem over on the Fan Page and I think it sums up well how excited we all are.
Thanks for sharing Susan.

Twas the night before Heisman and all through the street,
the houses lit red for the man with the feet.

The Cardinal player who can do it all
Now waits in New York for his name to be called!

Fans wearing RED to support number 8,
Lamar is a player with humble, great fate!

So raise up your L’s and keep the faith PROUD
With hope that the Heisman will land with “our” CROWD!

#L1C4LIT – Susan Blake Turner