Oh for a new descriptor you haven’t read elsewhere already while trying to consume every adjective writ about college football’s best player, an adjective that you haven’t heard ad nauseum from the lips of studio wags as LJ highlights run in tape loop throughout the day after the Cards’ noon victory.
But, sigh, my ever feeble creativity is locked down.
I can do no better than this.
La. Fuckin. Mar Ve. Lous.
The best player in the history of U of L football deserves more. I am not worthy. Sorry.
As anyone who has watched him play knows, it’s not just the stats that were they not legit would seem hyperbole, impossible.
It’s the panache. The instinct. The maturation of his game which is geometrically improved over last year’s Heisman campaign.
How, on the first play of U of L’s third drive, while being dragged to the ground, he bullseyed a 21 yard completion to Micky Crum.
How, after sidestepping a charging Tar Heel, then almost losing his balance, he set his feet and perfectly led his favorite wideout Jaylen Smith ( 9 catches, 183 yards) for a 74 yard score to push the Cards ahead 20-14 in the 2d.
How, stopped on a designed rush up the middle from the Carolina 3 yard line, he slithered left, found an inside crease, cut right then blasted into the endzone for a score, to put U of L on top for good at 33-28.
How he scampered this way and that, dodged every Tar Heel in the joint including several hoopsters in the house, for a 43 yard score.
How, when Louisville needed to tighten the clamps and start thinking about Clemson, he led the Cardinals on a 99 yard scoring drive, capping it with an 11 yard rushing TD.
OK, yeah, even though you’ve probably memorized them by now, I’ll give the numbers.
25/39 passing for 393 yards and QB Rating of 174.1. And, as last week, no picks.
132 yards rushing on 19 attempts, 6.9 ypc.
Three touchdowns by land. Three touchdowns by air (2 to Dez Fitzpatrick, 1 to Jaylen Smith).
Heisman that, America.
* * * * *
A shoutout to Derek Dorsey.
Because he didn’t get one in the official box score.
After the Cards forged ahead early in the 4th, the Baby Blues drove it quickly into Cardinal territory. Louisville’s still wobbly defense finally stiffened. The Tar Heels went for it on 4th and 1 at U of L’s 29.
Brandon Harris threw an out. Stacy Thomas almost picked it off, and was given credit for the break up.
But, but, but . . . it was Dorsey who got a big mitt on the throw at the line of scrimmage, redirecting the toss, essentially causing the incompletion.
Uh no, scoring dudes, it was Double D.
The Cardinal defense squelched another 4th & Goal attempt on the next Carolina drive.
Chucky Williams, who, let’s be frank, was beaten a lot most of the day and stupidly touched a punt returner making fair catch, turned NC TE into James Quick, pushing him out of bounds short of the goal line.
So, when it mattered, Peter Sirmon’s defense rose to the occasion. Good for them.
But, most of the day, the secondary was, to be gentle, porous.
Freshman Chazz Surratt, starting his first game ever, was 12/14 with two TD tosses in the first half alone. His replacement Brandon Harris last week had a passing rating of 8. At least, that’s what the TV guys said. Against the Cards, he went 17/23 for 216 yards, a TD, and a passing rating just short of Jackson’s.
And that ineptitude wasn’t simply because Jaire Alexander didn’t play. The Cards were getting beat. Badly. Tar Heel receivers were wide open.
There is work to be done.
On the plus side, real freshman Dorian Etheridge is the deal. He grabbed a team high 8 tackles, four solo.
Jonathan Greenard tallied three TFLs.
* * * * *
After halftime U of L reacquainted itself with a running game.
And appears to have found a go to running back.
Malik Williams, come on down.
The North Carolina native was strong, relentless and swift. Except on the super nifty 74 choogle when the Cards were pinned back against their goal late. Williams ran out of gas and was caught. (Credit wideouts Jaylen Smith and Seth Dawkins with big blocks.)
No biggie slowing down, Malik. You were huge.
Williams rushed for a team leading 149 yards on 13 carries. 11.5 ypc. Yes, the Cardinals had a couple 100+ rushing performances. Sweet.
* * * * *
Overall Louisville’s offense looked crisper than last week, despite having to settle for FGs twice in the red zone.
Though the OL gave up a couple sacks, one when Robbie Bell was sidelined late in the 1st, LJ generally had time to do what was necessary. In the second half, the improving front five opened holes for Malik Williams to truck through.
The defense still has issues. And needs to stop woofing and just play. But they did git ‘er done when it mattered to stifle UNC late. That last Tar Heel garbage time TD was too easy.
Are we happy with the special team when it gave up a kickoff return TD, when the Tar Heel scatback made it down field untouched? No.
The Cardinals were only penalize 6 times for 61 yards. But they were involved in offsetting persona foul extracurriculars on two occasions.
* * * * *
Not that it matters to anybody but me, I sorta liked that Carolina argyle pattern around the field.
Not only does color guy Greg McElroy love LJ, he’s a pretty astute observer of the game.
I love love love how Coke uses Professor Longhair’s “Goin’ to Mardi Gras” in one of its commercials.
Next: The Defending Champs.
— Seedy K