On a precisely launched bomb of 72 yards from Lamar Jackson to James Quick, Louisville scored on its first play from scrimmage, the first snap of the game. (Bobby Petrino’s modus operandi is to take the ball to start, an absolute about which the announcers were apparently unaware.)
Syracuse: 3 and out.
On U of L’s fourth play of the game, Jackson tallied from 7 yards away.
Syracuse: 3 and out.
On U of L’s 5th play of the game, the Cards again scored from 72 yards away, this time a juke and pivot jitterbug from the aforementioned Mr. Jackson.
Four minutes and 43 seconds had elapsed. Louisville’s lead was 21 zed.
Somewhat distracted due to the immediate early blowout, announcers Adam Amin and Mack Brown launched into the evening’s incessant promo for Saturday night’s Sky King & Penny SongBird Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol Speedway between the Vols and the Hokies . . . while there was action taking place on the Carrier Dome turf.
At that juncture, the Professor, ever the pessimistic cloud-enshrouded Joe Btfsplk, opined “This game’s not over.”
Which, of course, it was.
Yet the question that lingers is what to make of U of L’s second blowout in a row, this time by 34 points over a conference foe?
After opening week’s evisceration of Charlotte, I admonished all that it could be “a false positive,” that Louisville’s performance against the Orange would be more telling.
Which it was. Kinda.
Dino Babers has all the markers of a good coach. I love his sideline demeanor, and the scrappiness that his team competes with. But Syracuse is a long way from being a true conference competitor, and is frankly not all that much better than Charlotte.
I will not call Friday night’s 62-28 shellacking of the Orange a false positive. But I shall reiterate my let’s not get too too too excited yet position and say, let’s wait until 3:30 next Saturday afternoon for a full and knowing assessment of the possibilities of Louisville Football 2016.
* * * * *
Here’s what I liked:
I’ll get to You Know Who in a moment.
The ever improving offensive line. Generally. And one play specifically. How they blocked, Tobijah Hughley especially, on the reverse when Traveon Samuel ended up in the endzone to double up on the Orange and drain any legit last hope, 42-21.
They allowed but one sack. They allowed only one QB hurry.
Brandon Radcliffe’s running. Brandon Radcliffe’s patience. LJ remains inclined to keep the ball on those option plays. But when Radcliffe did get it, he took advantage. 10 carries. 156 yards. Glossy.
That the defense had two great possessions in a row to start the 2d half. That circumvented Syracuse’s end of 1st half momentum.
The unit had four sacks and eleven tackles for loss. The secondary had 5 breakups and a pick. They gave stuff up, but always returned to Thwart Mode. Shaq Wiggins was called for interference on a third down play allowing Syracuse to continue a drive. A few plays later he had a nifty break up to end the drive. Devonte Fields possession ending knock down after the Orange had driven the ball into the red zone.
845 yards in total offense.
After missing his first FG attempt of the season, a 28 yarder from a severe angle, Evan O’Hara came back and hit his next two, from 26 and 41.
Mason King punted five times for a net yards per punt of 42.2.
* * * * *
Here’s what was bothersome:
Nine penalties for 100 yards of lost territory.
Dropped balls. Lots of dropped balls. Dropped balls when receivers were wide open. I won’t name names, but the culprits are normally reliable receivers. They know who they are. And if they didn’t, Bobby Petrino has already advised them.
Six fumbles, two of which were turnovers.
Defensive lapses. Including blown coverages. Spates of woeful tackling.
Dee Smith’s targeting. Inexusable. He deserved to be tossed. He purposely went after the Syracuse receiver after an incompletion. It was on a 3d down play, extended the Syracuse drive which ended with a score, cutting U of L’s lead to 14. He’ll have to sit for the first half against the Seminoles.
* * * * *
I’m not sure there’s anything I can add to the trending national fascination with Lamar Jackson.
His numbers are mind boggling. 199 yards rushing. On 21 carries. The way he feints and pivots and accelerates is enthralling.
What I loved most about his signature moment when he leapfrogged ‘Cuse’s Cordell Hudson — which was astonishing enough — was how he stopped his momentum, didn’t go out of bounds and sharply veered down the sideline for the score.
20/39 for 411 passing yards. With at least six to eight balls dropped that should have been caught.
On a couple of throws he rolled to his left, yet still got his feet set and threw accurately downfield.
And he’s still so young and has oh so much to learn, so many areas in which he should improve.
His inclination is to keep the ball on running plays. While much better than last season, his field vision can get better. On his pick, he missed that Jamari Staples was wide open down the sideline, instead he threw into coverage. Which he did on a number of other occasions.
Lamar. Jackson. Is. The. Deal.
* * * * *
It is one of the great ironies of college sports that the Carrier Dome is not air conditioned. Carrier makes air conditioners for heaven’s sake.
Bobby Petrino remains undefeated against Syracuse.
During the game, Mack Brown called BP “maybe the best play caller in the country.”
During the game, ESPN football expert Ivan Maisel blogged about how Dino Babers put his arm around QB Eric Dungey after he made a drive ending mistake on the field, while Bobby Petrino barked at kicker Evan O’Hara after his missed FG.
Dungey’s team never scored again. O’Hara made his next two FGs.
Next Up: Florida State. Saturday. Noon.
Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge game, whether “Game Day” shows up or not.
— Seedy K