I’m talking about my dad, Arthur A. Kaplan, a major sports fan, someone who took every opportunity to encourage my participation despite my lack of athletic skills. That involvement evolved into his position as the first head of the Jewish Community Center Little League in the mid 50s.
He ruled with an iron hand, a veritable Kennesaw Mountain Kaplan. (Okay, I made that up, for the sake of effect, literary license. What did I really know, I was 12 years old, all I wanted to do was get on the field.)
But his stature was such, that my buddies who played in the league continued to call him Mr. Commissioner for the rest of his life. Which he mostly spent golfing.
Anyway, as I said, Mr. Commissioner observed. And shared such pronouncements.
I kept thinking of one of his favorites last night, while wünderkind Lamar Jackson was able, through sheer athleticism and instinct, to scramble his way out of trouble time and again when U of L’s rejiggered, but still mediocre OL gave way.
Against the slower, significantly less talented Bulldogs, LJ frolicked like the biggest kid on the sandlot does.
As Mr. Commissioner would opine, “You look fast when you run past trees.”
Which is not to say Cardinal fans shouldn’t be encouraged by last night’s performance, by Jackson and his teammates, during a workmanlike walkover of We’re Not Stanford We’re Samford, in for the beatdown, and as we pundits are implored to say in these times, a bushel basket of cabbage to fill athletic department coffers.
The New Kid On The Turf rambled for 192 on 18 carries, meaning he gobbled up the yardage at more than 10 yards a tote.
He was 15/22 in the air. Given he was presented with shorter routes, he displayed a far better accuracy than before. We know he has a bazooka from the season’s opening three disappointments.
There is universal agreement, given the uphill climb the Cardinals have to attain that lofty status this campaign known as “Bowl Eligible,” that it makes sense to die or hopefully live with LJ.1
Caveat emptor: Jackson still has lots — lots and lots — to work on. Like when and how to hand the ball off, especially on option reads. Like when not to throw into double coverage.
And, I gotta say it, though it’s really pissy on my part, finishing off 70+ yard scampers into TD territory, instead of being knocked out of bounds at the two.
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I’ll give credit to The Professor, who first observed, after the Houston debacle, that you have to get Reggie Bonnafon on the field.
The kid’s got serious talent. Call him Brandon Millerish, or Randall Cobbish, or insert (Your choice of name of Gamebreaking All Purpose Skill Player) here. What happens when he’s in the game, either in tandem with LJ or not, is that U of L’s options increase.
That, as Martha Stewart not Mr. Commissioner would say, is “a good thing.”
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The starting O Line was seriously reconfigured. Had to be. Bobby P could have conscripted 6-0, 165 lb. shooting guard Ryan McMahon as left tackle and the unit’s play wouldn’t have suffered much.
So the addition of McNeil, Klusman and Johnson up front was well worth a roll of the dice. Any tack that puts Tobijah Hughley on the sidelines with his helmet off is just all right by me, and to the greater good of Louisville Football.
The Cards still gave up two sacks. And there were those escapes by LJ, scenarios that shall surely have different, less positive repercussions the rest of the season against quicker, better and more savvy foes.
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My new favorite Cardinal is Jaire Alexander. He only had one tackle and that pick during his stint at CB, but always seemed to be well positioned.
But he’s always a threat when returning punts. He turned lemons into lemonade twice on runbacks last evening.
Trumaine Washington is also a comer. On the overmatched visitors’ fourth play, he forced a fumble, recovered by Keith Kelsey. On the second play of the Bulldogs’ next possession, he picked off befuddled Samford QB Devin Hodges.
Chucky Williams covered a lot of ground on his interception.
I also like how Petrino and OC McGee seem to have settled on an O strategy. Even though, it makes Kyle Bolin the odd man out, it’s got to be stabilizing.
Lots of other new faces showed up last night. It will take somebody far more observant and astute than myself to call them out.
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What I really didn’t like were the two acutely stupid personal fouls in the opening half. One by Skylar Lacy in the first quarter. Another by Shaq Wiggins in the 2d.
Louisville’s margin for success is of such narrow tolerance, any reversion to the gunslinging bravado of the John L. Smith era will likely be fatal against league foes.
Nor did I care for James Quick’s hot dogging dive into the endzone on his TD. Just play the game, son.
89 yards of penalties, almost evenly divided between halves. Clean it up, fellas.
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The Cards wore red home uniforms, the way it’s supposed to be. Unless they decide to go all white, old school Cleveland Browns style.
Mothball the black unis. It’s become a cliché.
— Seedy K