Actual honest to Boola! Boola! Betty Coed bowl games that really, really mean something. Games with intrigue, tradition, unis both funky and classic, fascinating story lines, gravity. Rah, Rah, Sis Boom, Bah!
TCU has now proven twice in a row that it should be playing in New Orleans tonight instead of the Buckeyes. That said, Ohio State vs. Alabama, Saban vs. Meyer is Ali vs. Frazier, Roll Tide vs. O*H***I*O, about as big time a meaningful gridiron battle as any college pigskin fan could want.
There’s even actual football weather in Pasadena for the Quack vs. Seminoles, where the Fahrenheit is hovering at the freezing mark. Keep those roses warm.
So, on this boffo pigskin day, I want to take a quick look back at the Louisville Cardinals, and gaze beyond the horizon.
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Given that Georgia’s Bulldogs are simply bigger, faster and better than U of L, there’s not much to say about the Belk Bowl.
I could play coulda woulda shoulda all day, but it would be of little consequence, a waste of intellectual energy. The perennial SEC power, unlike Florida two years ago in the Sugar Bowl, came ready to play. UGa!!!!!
When the best team does that, which is far from always the case in bowl games, the best team usually wins. And so it did. Handily and with dispatch.
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Looking ahead to Petrino Era II, Year II, there is but one question on the minds of Cardinal football fans?
Who is going to start at QB next September 5, when the Cards take the field in the GeorgiaDome against another SEC power, Auburn?
I haven’t seen Penn State transfer Tyler Ferguson in action, so any assessment here comes with an asterisk. The former Nittany Lion might jump the field. It’s just part of this vexing scenario that is going to get curioser and curioser as kickoff approaches.
Setting Ferguson aside for the time being, I have a firm opinion of who is the best of the three we know.1
My take on Will Gardner is that he’s totally bereft of leadership qualities. My sense is, even were he to improve his throwing mechanics, that he’s incapable of developing the swagger in the huddle to be a catalyst for offensive success. He doesn’t appear to have the personality to transcend.
Reggie Bonnafon is simply too far behind the learning curve. His lack of experience at QB is a major detriment at the level to which U of L aspires. Plus, he can’t read the field quickly enough to execute Bobby Petrino’s offense the way it’s meant to be run.
After the pick he threw during his short stint against Georgia, astute color commentator Kelly Stouffer called the throw, “a horrific decision.”
More important, the Cards lose a lot in the pass catching department. Sure handed, high jumping DeVante Parker, one of Louisville’s ten best players ever, is surely gone. So too Eli Rogers, Kai De La Cruz, Michaelee Harris and Matt Milton.
Bonnafon has both the tools and experience as a wideout to help fill those vacancies. His upside as a receiver is significantly greater than at QB.
One can find fault certainly with Bolin’s performance in Charlotte. Then again, he’d only played 2 1/2 quarters as signal caller before the Belk kickoff. He reads the field. He’s proven, after his performance against UK, that he can take charge and carpe diem.
The Lexingtonian displayed his mettle on the Cards first Belk Bowl scoring drive. His pass to Parker on the TD that was nullified was pin point. His throw to Christian for the touchdown was NFL quality. That he wasn’t shaken by the imprudent 1st & Goal kneel down, nor the tally taken off the board, is telling.
Bolin’s future’s so bright, he’s . . . etc, etc.
So, I’m guessing it’s Bolin or perhaps Ferguson taking the field in Atlanta next September, with Bonnafon in the slot and Gardner signaling in the play calls.
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The Cardinals finished 9-4, which is just about absolutely right.
They coulda won a couple they didn’t. They easily coulda lost a couple they won.2
Yet Todd Graham’s surprisingly successful D dominated way more often than not. Which allowed the Cards to capture nine victories, despite an up and down offense.
Bobby Petrino’s second debut season at Louisville, in a new league with a tougher schedule way more difficult than any previously, was a good one by any objective measure.
— Seedy K