On the season, Louisville’s ratio of rushing attempts to passing attempts has been just about even. 343 ground assaults vs. 321 air attacks. Last night, when it became obvious that the Cougars’ defensive schemes had Teddy B in too much peril when looking down field for an air lift, Sean Watson obviously decided to keep it on the ground more.
Forty one rushing attempts vs. only 29 passes.
The strategy obviously worked. Louisville won, and, bottom line, that’s why they play the game.
It was also effective in more subtle ways. Louisville had possession of the ball for 37:49 vs 22:11 for the visitors from Texas. If not impossible, a football team is less likely to score when it doesn’t have the ball than when it does.
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Even though that simple switch of focus tipped the scales in the Cardinals’ favor, the passing attack remained important. (Which, when you have a talent like Teddy Bridgewater, it surely must.)
U of L’s QB was held without a TD pass for the first time in centuries. 21 games actually was the skein. But when it came to garnering first downs, Louisville had as many by air — 10 — as it did on land, also ten.
And the two key plays in the W were passes.
The 39 yarder to DeVante Parker on 3d & 3 at the Houston 42 during the first drive of the second half. Louisville gained the endzone on the next play to retake the lead for good.
And the 22 yard completion to Eli Rogers on 3d & 13 at the Cougars 45 during the second drive after the break. The drive ended with a John Wallace FG to increase the advantage to a two score lead.
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How invigorating has it been to watch the development of Dominique Brown?
Correct answer: Very.
27 carries for 137 net yards. That’s 5.1 yards/ rushing attempt. Two touchdowns.
After missing a whole year, having progressed beyond his tendency to hesitate if the hole isn’t immediately open, Brown’s taken on the Bilal Powell role, becoming The Man. Senorise Perry remains a serious contributor, though it was a one guy show last evening. Michael Dyer, lofty rep notwithstanding, has been relegated to special teams action.
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If, after securing the lead, you hold the other team scoreless, it greatly enhances your chance for victory.
After giving up 13 points and the lead in a second quarter performance described precisely by Charlie Strong — “We stink right now” — Louisville’s D did the tighten up after halftime.
Houston didn’t score.
Not only that. Vance Bedford’s gang didn’t allow the Cougars past midfield but once in the second half. On Houston’s 4th drive after the band played, it was 3d & 10 at Louisville’s 47. The Cards stuffed an attempted screen pass for a six yard loss. On the visitors last possession, when they hoped for a comeback, U of L’s D did their best Archie Bell & the Drells impression. The Cougs were 3d & 38 on their own 7 and the good guys never allowed the visitors to dig out of that hole.
Which meant the Cards, in the words of Mr. Bell, that eminent Houston philosopher, “could not only sing but dance just as good as they want.”
Preston Brown had nine tackles; Roy Philon and James Burgess, 7 each. Calvin Pryor had 5. So too, Lorenzo Mauldin, who also had a sack. But he also committed an absurd, totally unnecessary roughing the passer penalty on Houston’s last drive of the first half. Which not only negated a Hakeem Smith interception, but kept the lead-taking drive alive.
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For at least the second time this season that I’m aware of, a rep from Russell Athletic Bowl was salivating after the game over the prospect of Louisville taking the field in Orlando on December 28.
The first time was the night Louisville choked up its BCS chances against Central Florida. Again last evening.
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Speaking of UCF, it seems obvious that it’s just meant to be that it’s the Knights’ season to make it to a game on New Year’s or beyond. We might not like, but we have to respect that they came from behind again yesterday. Down 7 with less than two minutes to play, the Knights scored twice to beat Temple in regulation. J.J. Worton’s perfectly horizontal, lay out, one-handed catch for the tying TD was stunning, the best of the year. (Auburn’s winning grab was luck. Worton’s was talent.)
UCF still has to play Rutgers, South Florida and SMU. It’s hard to fathom them losing two of three. But hope does remain.
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Next up: Memphis State. Next Saturday at noon, in a game that will apparently conflict with the basketball team’s tilt with Fairfield played in that Native American reservation casino up east.
Which, if nothing else, will get Cardinal fans in training for the looming conflict on December 28.
— Seedy K