The pitcher in Little League. The scorer in hoops. The fastest guy in football, who’d either catch or throw the long one. Facile with a tennis racket, even if he’d never played before.
He was also cocky. Not nasty cocky, but confident cocky. And he’d back it up.
Later, during the Vietnam era, he joined the Marine Reserves, essentially to prove he could handle boot camp at Parris Island.
A bunch of us were hanging out once in our early teens, and he was in one of those moods, declaring he could beat any of us at any sport. Which he would do.
He was a winner. Because he was physically gifted. Because he was mentally tough on the court or field.
The Louisville Cardinals need to find that kind of intestinal fortitude before they shall be able to fully turn the corner.
Against a beatable Florida State Seminole squad, the Cards came close. But the Cards didn’t finish.
From the feisty and successful fake punt on, Louisville, tweedly and tentative to start, turned the game around.
Near the end of the first, U of L’s 16 play 66 yard drive, resurrected by that bold 4th down maneuver, ended 6:22 after it started, with a pinpoint Malik Cunningham to Tutu Atwell toss to the side of the endzone. Down 21 after the 1st, the Cards had gotten one back and went into halftime energized.
On the opening drive of the 3d, they were thwarted by a horrid spot and a false start. On the next by a botched snap and another false start. Yet still salvaged a Blanton Creque FG.
A 48 yard toss and rumble from Cunningham to Marshon Ford was the big play in a 7 play, 76 yard drive that ended with the Cardinals down 17-21.
Meanwhile Louisville’s defense was thwarting the Seminoles when it mattered. The home team had not tallied since the 1st. The home team went three and out after the Cards pulled within four.
Less than a minute into the 4th, the Louisville Cardinals proved again that they are not last year’s Louisville Cardinals. Cunningham heaved a deep bomb to Dez Fitzpatrick, who outbobbled the defender and scampered in for a 74 yard lead-taking score.
24 straight for U of L.
The defense then fashioned another three and out.
On the ensuing possession, the Cardinals, with the same efficiency they had displayed since that catalytic fake punt, moved from their own 28 for a 1st & 10 at State’s 31.
The Cards dropped the hammer.
In a blink, Uncle Mo changed from Red & Black, donning Garnet & Gold.
A botched running play. A pick. A couple minutes later, led by second team QB from Wisconsin, the Seminoles scored, retaking the advantage for good.
The Louisville Cardinals did not quit.
But the Louisville Cardinals also did not close.
The battle ended 24-35 to a team willing to be beaten, with QB Malik Cunningham on the turf with a leg injury.
Despite U of L’s improvement, this is still far from a season of complete salvation. There is work, a lot of work, still to be done.
— Seedy K