Louisville CardFile: Western Kentucky

On Friday afternoon at Paul’s Market, I ran into a doc, who was a U of L football team physician for years, until his group from Jewish was replaced by one from Norton’s for reasons having nothing to do with quality of care.

I see him now and again in the ‘hood and he’s always been forthcoming about behind the scenes stuff with the Cardinals. I was hoping to get more perspective on last season’s meltdown, which I really did not, but he made one comment which gave some perspective to yesterday’s victory over the Hilltoppers.

Relying on what he observed at field level during last year’s game, he’s of the opinion that U of L’s talent level is not much different than Western’s.

Frankly, I’m not sure if I agree. But, if so, Scott Satterfield and his staff may be doing an even better job than the hyped up Red & Black Faithful already believe. Louisville kept WKU measured throughout in Saturday’s 38-21 W.

What I do know is they’re at Final Four level when it comes to injury report obfuscation. Saturday at 12:27, U of L advised the media that Jawon Pass would miss the game due to a “lower extremity injury.”

A knee? A foot? A toe? Thigh? Calf?

Whatever, it meant that Malik Cunningham got his first start of the season. Which commenced with the look of just the same as it ever was.

On the Cards’ first possession, Cunningham’s happy feet were on full display. Though he has improved some, he still can’t seem to read through his progressions quickly enough to be effective at this level. So, he takes sacks, or he scurries off for short gainers. Several times in my game notes, I jotted down, “no patience in the pocket.”

It is a testament to Cunningham and his mates and the new coaching regime that all adjusted. MC looked considerably more comfortable after the disturbing first offensive possession. His 46 yard strike to Tutu Atwell for 14-0 lead three minutes into the 2dQ was a bullseye.

Though it seems somewhat misleading, against WKU’s G5 D, Cunningham was 7/10 for 114 yards and 2 TDs in the opening half.

More salient is that Satterfield and OC Dwayne Ledford realized that the path to victory in NashVegas was on the ground. 51 rushes. 16 passing attempts. 210 yards on the turf. 205 yards in the air. Half of the latter coming on the two bombs to Atwell, that 46 yarder, and Evan Conley’s 62 yard dime in the 3d.

(Another view on how things are different with the new regime. During U of L’s challenge of the fumble on MC’s errant pitch to Atwell early in the 3d, Satt and Ledford were actually smiling about something as they talked on the sideline.)

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Lack of depth and the toll it takes were manifest after halftime. Especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Western was able to move the ball easier after the break. Overall the Cards kept the Toppers contained, other than that worrisome 77 yard TD toss over the middle to a lumbering TE. The flip side is, despite being worn out, the D held on WKU’s last two drives when the Hilltoppers were striving to make the score more respectable.

Also on offense. There was that disturbing sequence of plays during the Cards’ 5th possession of the second half.

Two holding calls on the first play of the drive. Followed by a Javian Hawkins unsportsmanlike conduct call for flexing or stepping on the tackler on the next play. Then another holding. Three penalties in four plays.

One pal texted me that it looked like a Petrino team. I believe the team without enough replacements just wore out on a hot day in the sun.

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I don’t know who it was but one of the Cardinal defenders made the best block of the game. It freed up Rodjay Burns when he picked up that fumble and scored from 30 yards out.

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The targeting call on Jack Fagot was at the least overbearing, and at worst, total BS.

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I was unable to go to Nashville, so I watched in the stream on Stadium.

For the most part, the signal remained strong, with just a couple of moments of buffering. It was a lot better than some of those early season hoops games last year, also streamed, that I had to watch at home on my computer while still convalescing from my torn quadriceps tendon. (No obfuscation here, full transparency, all details revealed.)

There were some graphics issues. They kept running the exact same commericals over and over again.

Announcers Josh Appel and Jordan “Brother of Carson” Palmer were homers but reasonably astute. (Unlike my new least favorite announcing team of Matt Hasselback, Pat McAfee and Adam Amin, who did the Carolina/ Wake game. Too effusive. Too much hyperbole. 3d & 1 on the first series of a game is not “really critical.”)

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Now we get to see how much better and refreshed the University of Louisville Cardinals truly are?

Last year at this juncture, the Cards were 2-1, with a loss to a national power and a couple of victories over schools that should have been conquered. Then Louisville was crushed at UVa, and you know what happened from there.

This season, U of L looked better against Notre Dame than they did against Alabama. And much better against EKU and WKU than last season against Indiana State and the Hilltoppers.

Florida State, reeling as the Seminoles are, is a most winnable game.

— Seedy K

2 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Western Kentucky

  1. Before true freshman QB Evan Conley took his first snap, my thoughts flashed back to two recent Louisville QB greats and their respective freshman debuts: Teddy Bridgewater and Lamar Jackson. Both Teddy and Lamar threw an interception on their first play. Conley was better: he threw an incompletion. Followed by a touchdown pass. With the inconsistent play of Pass and Cunningham, Conley will get an opportunity to play more this season.

    While I remain upbeat and optimistic about this season, the depth issues will become more of a problem as the season goes on and injuries accrue. However, with Satterfield at the helm, the future looks bright.

    1. Starting Saturday, we’ll find out just how much improvement we can really expect from the Cards this season.

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