No, really, I mean How About THAT?
2019 Music City Bowl Final Score: Louisville 38, Mississippi State 28.
And who before it began might have ever really considered a line like that would be written as a capper for this Cardinal pigskin campaign?
Let’s set aside for a moment the debacle that was the ’18 season and how this regular campaign, despite some bracing setbacks, played out in an almost dreamlike fashion.
Let’s just make passing mention how U of L’s ever resilient squad shook off the whipping it took in this year’s finale.
Let’s mention but dismiss how the Cards best player decided not to participate with his former teammates in the bowl game to prepare his talents for the next level.
Let’s just talk about how Scott Satterfield and his staff had this band of Cardinals so ready to win Monday afternoon in Nashville that they simply shrugged off what could have been a debilitating start to dominate their SEC foe.
The tone for the defense was set on the first play from scrimmage when Khane Pass tackled the SEC’s leading rusher Kylin Hill for a 2 yard loss. Which stalwartness was on display again on the next play when Rodjay Burns garnered another TFL.
U of L held the Bulldogs to to 3 & Out.
On its first series with the ball, U of L deftly moved the ball down the field. Micale Cunningham keeper for 9 yards. A 14 yard completion to Tutu Atwell. Javian Hawkins for 16 yards.
It seemed almost too easy until Hawkins was corralled behind the line on a 1st & 10 at the State 24. Then adversity struck. Dez Fitzpatrick was stripped of the pigskin at the Bulldog 1 yard line. Turnover.
Cowbell State then with dispatch drove the length of the field in 8 plays to take a 7-0 lead.
After the teams traded some futile 3 & Out efforts, State registered another touchdown on its first possession of the 2d. It was a ten play 80 yard drive that featured some bad Cardinal tackling, and that odd, inexplicable Dorian Etheridge ejection.
Cowbells 14, Cardinals 0.
It is how the Cardinals, who might have folded, reacted from this juncture on which requires cliché.
They showed what they’re made of.
They showed they were not to be denied.
Five plays later, on a Micale to Tutu to Marshon 33 yard trickeration, Louisville was on the board.
Then Trenell Troutman forced a State fumble on the ensuing kickoff return, which was gathered in by kicker James Turner. Whose name doesn’t even appear on the preseason Media Guide roster.
Talk about playing with the ones who are here!
But three penalties and a dropped toss and U of L wasted the turnover, turning the ball over on downs.
Yet, and here comes that descriptor again, get ready for it, the ever resilient Cardinals did not allow that disappointment to do them in.
A Ryan Chalifoux FG pulled the Cards within 14-10 at halftime.
U of L took over in the 3d, grabbing the game by the short and curlies.
State was held to 12 yards total in the quarter. The #18 rushing team in the land was -8 on the ground in the period. While Louisville ate up 144 total yards.
More salient: A couple of Cardinal TDs.
The first, on a drive that featured a pair of third down conversions, a 24 yarder to DeVante Peete, only his second career catch for a score. (The other came against Auburn in ’15.)
Then that lovely scoop and score by Khane Pass. Credit senior Gary McGrae with the strip of beleaguered State QB Tommy Stevens.
In the 4th, Louisville made it 31 unanswered when Cunningham found Ford on an 8 yard TD toss.
After a way too easy State score, pulling them within ten with ten and a half minutes still to play, Louisville exhibited its maturity.
Despite not scoring on the ensuing possession, U of L ate up every second of the clock it could.
Then the defense made a stop, bringing severe pressure on a 4th and 4 at midfield, causing a quick throw, allowing a Rodjay Burns break up.
Louisville closed the deal on a nifty line shifting sleight of hands and feet resulting in a Hawkins jaunt into the endzone.
The Bulldogs scored a meaningless garbage time TD, when I think the Cards inserted Bobby Boucher at cornerback.
Kneel Down. Louisville 38, Mississippi State 28
* * * * *
There really isn’t enough time or space for all the praise that is deserved.
A few important mentions.
Micale Cunningham is hardly even recognizable. That same guy who looked lost a year ago, with errant passing and an inclination to run at the first sign of trouble, matured into a rock steady P5 QB before our eyes.
16/23. 279 yards in the air. 2 TD passes. 16 rushes for 81 yards.
Second team to start the season, he ended up with one of the top national QB ratings.
Javian Hawkins had 23 rushes for 105 yards.
He Who Apparently Wasn’t Good Enough To Play Last Season became the first Cardinal running back to rush for 1500+ in a season.
Tutu Atwell had 9 catches for 147 yards.
The Whole Offensive Line.
The Whole Defense. Which played easily its best game of the season on Monday.
The Entire Coaching Staff.
Especially Scott Satterfield.
* * * * *
The other day at the JCC as I was heading down the hall to hit the Stairmaster, there was an adolescent kid running ahead of his mom, screaming, “I’m rewriting time, mommy, I’m rewriting time.”
I was struck by the concept, such that I jotted it down, figuring somewhere along the way I might make some sense of it.
Given where U of L football was a year ago, given where U of L football stands this last day of 2019, I’m thinking the Scott Satterfield Era might just help me understand what that kid was talking about.
— c d kaplan