Luck is the daughter of intervention. Okay, uh, maybe I just made that one up.
“Luck is a very thin wire between survival and disaster, and not many people can keep their balance on it.”
Louisville infant terrible Dr. Hunter S. Thompson said that. While it really doesn’t apply to my point here, I’m going to keep it in. Because, well, it’s my blog.
Better to be lucky than good. I know that’s one that’s been uttered way too many times before.
However one might choose to make her more literary than she deserves, Lady Luck was with the Cardinals during their second drive of the second half.
On a 3d & 4 play at the State 46, Eli Rogers grabbed a Will Gardner pass that was dancing in the air in an “Immaculate Reception” situation. The ball pinballed off another participant into Rogers look-what-came-my-way arms. For a much needed nine yard gain, and “Another! Cards! First! Down!”
That minor miracle was merely a set up for the Play of the Game, which came soon thereafter.
It’s a/k/a The Play Reversal of the Game.
Reading the official box score, one wouldn’t have a clue of the significance of the down. It reads: “1-10 ST 22 Gardner, W. rush for loss of 5 yards to the ST27.” Which, translated into my verbosity, says on a 1st and 10 at the Wolfpack 22, Will Gardner was sacked for a five yard loss.
What actually happened was that Gardner stumbled, bumbled and fumbled, literally.1 The pigskin was gathered from the turf by one of the onrushing visitors from N.C. State, who ambled and angled his way into the Cards’ endzone 78 yards away for what coulda woulda been a game-turning TD.
Had the play stood up under replay, the score would have been 17-15, but a two-point conversion from a tie. Because, well, as I learned from Miss McCord in 2d grade Arithmetic, no multiplication tables necessary, 15 + 2 = 17.
Instead, the replay officials stood up for truth, justice and the American Way, overturning the call on the field. The Cardinal drive remained alive, ending with a 38 yard FG by John Wallace, making the score read 20-9, a proverbial two score advantage with 15:30 left to play.
Thank you, Ms. Luck. Please, feel free to stick around for the rest of the campaign. Your services shall be necessary; your presence most appreciated.
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It’s now time for me to recant what I said several weeks back, which was a recantation of something I’d opined earlier.
Earlier in the season, I offered my opinion that Michael Dyer, injured though he has been, is clearly U of L’s best running back. Then, after Brandon Radcliffe emerged front and center, I regurgitated that opinion.
After yesterday’s defining performance by the Auburn transfer — 173 net yards on 24 carries — I am back to where I once belonged. Dyer is indeed Louisville’s premier carrier of the pigskin.2
He’s sees the holes. And, when healthy, gets to them.
He runs low to the ground with pistoning legs.
I was down by the field on Louisville’s last possession of the battle. Behind the endzone where the good guys scored that last TD. Which is to say that Dyer’s 46 yard bull rush came right at me. The guy was a runaway train.3
Anyway, a Michael Dyer at full speed the rest of the way will be a positive thing. Because, with both Notre Dame and Florida State — legit Top 5 squads both — dead ahead, this still-a-work-in-progress Louisville team is going to need all the tools it can gather.
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The packages installed for Reggie Bonnafon yesterday included, uh, three plays total. Two keepers on 3d down for 1st downs. And a handoff after the second to L.J. Scott.
Which means that, rightly so, despite his faults, Will Gardner’s the prime signal caller. At least for today.
The post game comments danced around his average at best, but definitely improved performance.
Bobby Petrino is not known for understatement. Of Gardner’s game yesterday, the coach euphemized, “We left a few out there.”
I’ll say. Gardner still needs work on his release point.
But, he did go 21/36 for a couple hundred yards, and completed two TD strikes. Without a pick. As reported above, his one major gaffe was reversed. Though, on that fumble 6 that wasn’t, he just stumbled. It wasn’t like he made a major tactical miscalculation. Accidents happen.
* * * * *
In hoops, there’s an unofficial stat, which I don’t feel I need to define, called “garbage points.” Okay, you know, it’s a player padding his stats at mop up time, after the tilt is decided.
One must apply the same thinking to Gerod Holliman’s pick yesterday. On a Wolfpack Hail Mary with less than a minute to play and no chance for a comeback.
But, hey, he’s still tops in the land. And had four tackles . . .
. . . for a defense that did enough to secure the game, if not stir the usual praise it’s earned this season. Sample, Rankins, Kelsey, Burgess and Mauldin, as usual, were the names most called by the Sean Moth.
Again, Grantham’s unit tired. N.C. State’s last TD, which kept hope alive for the underdog visitors, was like the proverbial “hot knife through butter.” Way too easy. Way way too easy.
* * * * *
Which brings us, as it must, to the best Cardinal.
Welcome back, DeVante Parker.
Who played at, what, 72.39% of his game? 62.88%? He’s obviously not full speed yet. He obviously hasn’t regained all his hops, being outjumped once in the endzone.
But rambled for 37 yards, after his first grab, on the second play of the game. He had nine catches, tying his career high, for 132 yards.
I thought it interesting, but obviously in retrospect of no consequence, that Parker wasn’t on the field for the 3d & Goal down at the State 3, which resulted in a Gardner to De La Cruz TD connection, and a 17-6 advantage right before halftime.
* * * * *
Louisville certainly didn’t commit as many penalties as it has been.
Yet the roughing the kicker infraction in the 1st Q kept a Wolfpack drive alive, at the end of which the visitors scored a TD.
The game would have been tied, but the Wolfpack kicker doinked the point after.
* * * * *
Once again, the Red & Black Nation proved this is a hoops town.
Saturday was a perfect football day. A gray Grantland Rice sky. A chill in the air, without numbing cold. A conference foe in a meaningful game, not Florida Hemisphere University.
The announced crowd was 50,000+. There couldn’t have been 35,000 in the stands at kickoff, and considerably less during U of L’s last possession, when the game was still in doubt.
Thus, those not there, didn’t get to hear Warren Zevon’s righteous “Werewolves of London,” which they played over the PA between the 1st and 2d Qs.
* * * * *
Next: Florida State. Just over the horizon, trips to Boston College and South Bend, then come those Wildcats in the soon to be traditional season ending rivalry battle for the Governor’s Cup.
It’s time for the tighten up.
— Seedy K