Cardinal Game Dispatch: WKU

I knew Doc and I were on the same wavelength, when reading his in-game email. The subject line, “Where are You?”

He was inquiring rhetorically of the current whereabouts of gadfly, Corso-era punter Scott Marcus.

I had just jotted in the margins of my game notes, “Wilbur Summers???” That T.W. Alley-era punter stands alongside Klaus Wilmsmeyer among the elite of Card kickers through the decades.

Our cause for consternation was the pratfalls of new U of L punter Logan Lupo.

On the Cardinals’ first possession of the game, he fumbled the snap, giving the visiting Hilltoppers a 1st & Goal, a yard away from paydirt. A snap and conversion later, the guys in Red & Black were down, 0-7.

The ball was wet, so there’s a reasonable excuse for that one.

But, on Louisville’s first possession of the second half, Lupo, a rugby-style kicker it would seem, drifted inexplicably and unnaturally to his left, took an extra step, thus allowing a Topper to block a second attempted punt.

Thirty nine seconds, two snaps and an extra point later, Western had halved U of L’s advantage to 28-14.

Compounding the mistake, it appeared on TV — where I shall be covering the Cards during this pandemic season — that Lugo was arguing with fans in the stands about his mistake. Certainly, color commentator Tim Hasselbeck thought so.

Lupo seemed to be yelling, “It wasn’t my fault.”

It was not a good look.

More important is we now know Coach Scott Satterfield wasn’t just jawin’ at his pre-game press conference, when he expressed concern about the kicking game.

James Turner did convert all the conversion attempts.

Freshman kickoff man Brock Travelstead was steady, but didn’t seem able to boot the pigskin out of the back of the endzone, which would have insured no runbacks.

Ah, but punting remains a work in progress.

 * * * * *

Louisville won, 35-21.

Louisville covered. (I could, frankly, give a big whoop about the point spread, but I’m trying to make a point here.)

There were fans in the stands.

There didn’t seem to be any major injuries coming out of the victory.

Though there were certainly some tightening sphincters among the faithful, when QB Micale Cunningham was hit low and rolled, while throwing a pick on U of L’s third possession after intermission.

He was slow to get up. Then he was shown in apparent anguish, his head covered on the bench, while backup Puma Pass was taking warmup tosses.

He did return, not missing a snap, but he and the Cardinals were less effective offensively from that juncture on.

Bottom line: Any victory is to be cherished.

Heck, just the fact the Louisville and in-state rival WKU competed is to be savored in these times.

The Cards will be ABC Prime Time this coming Saturday. Game Day will be in the house.

Reality check: There’s plenty o’ tweakin’ and cleanin’ up to do before Louisville kicks off against improved Miami, with its stud transfer QB D’Eriq King, who has fashioned a rushing TD and passing TD in sixteen consecutive games.

 * * * * *

U of L did prove, as expected, that it possesses “some kind of receiving corps.”

Tutu did what Tutu does. Atwell caught 7 for 78 yards.

Ean did what Ean does. TE Pfeiffer caught a pass and scored on it. It’s his way.

Speedy Braden Smith was huge early. 4 catches for 110 yards.

Dez Fitzpatrick had exactly the same stat line, but how about the TD reception, which pushed the Cardinals up three scores midway through the 3d?

On what looked like a well thrown MC pass, Dez was double covered on an apparent deep skinny post. Western Ky’s safety saw the ball heading his way, and, like a center fielder, was looking it into his hands. The corner was underneath.

Savvy Fitzpatrick cut between them on a diagonal, snatched the pigskin, and scampered for a score. It was my favorite play of the game.

 * * * * *

Micale Cunningham continues to move away from that happy feet guy he was season before last.

His touch and accuracy deep downfield is, to be honest, better than Louisville’s Heisman holder, Lamar Jackson. At least when LJ was playing here.

Louisville’s rushing game looked, uh, meh. Like they really miss those two OL studs now at the next level.

Then again, Satterfield was probably not revealing anything that wasn’t necessary to secure the victory.

 * * * * *

Louisville’s improved defense held the Hilltoppers to 248 total yards, relatively evenly divided between ground and air.

WKU had to work for only one of its scores, but still had to toil a bit then, taking nine plays to cover 37 yards. Which cut their disadvantage to the eventual margin with just under six minutes to play.

Dorian Etheridge led Louisville with 8 tackles.

But it was Monty Montgomery who impressed the most. He broke through for two of U of L’s three sacks. He was also responsible for three of the Cards’ impressive 10 TFLs.

 * * * * *

I doubt I was the only one, whose mind went deja vu all over again, thinking back to last season’s interminable Wake Forest game, when WKU recovered an onside kick after their final score.

Fortunately for Louisville, which had been caught unaware of the ploy, the ball had traveled but 9.87 yards, instead of the required 10.

U of L ran out the clock.

 * *.* * *

Next: Miami Hurricanes.

— c d kaplan

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