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CFN Take: Louisville Blows Past Hurricanes

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 28, 2013


2013 Louisville Cardinals ... Head Coach: Charlie Strong


Louisville Cardinals

2013 Record: 12-1
8/31 Ohio W 49-7
9/7 E. Kentucky W 44-7
9/14 at Kentucky W 27-13
9/21 FIU W 72-0
9/28 OPEN DATE
10/5 at Temple W 30-7
10/10 Rutgers W 24-10
10/18 UCF L 38-35
10/26 at USF W 34-3
11/2 OPEN DATE
11/8 at Connecticut W 31-10
11/16 Houston W 20-13
11/23 Memphis W 24-17
11/30 OPEN DATE
12/5 at Cincinnati 31-24 OT
Russell Athletic Bowl
12/28 Miami W 36-9
Russell Athletic Bowl
Louisville 36, Miami 9
Basically … Miami had all the momentum early on as Deon Bush tackled Teddy Bridgewater in the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 lead. And then it was all Louisville the rest of the way. Bridgewater threw for a career-high 447 yards with three touchdown passes and a one-yard scoring run as the Cardinals cranked out 36 straight points. John Wallace hit field goals from 36, 43 and 42 yards out, and then Bridgewater went to work finding DeVante Parker from 26 yards out, Michaelee Harris for a 12-yard score, and Senorise Perry for a 25-yard touchdown. The Canes finally got into the end zone on a two-yard Gus Edwards run in the fourth.

- Louisville had the ball for 38:32 to 21:28.
- Third Down Conversions: Louisville 8-of-14 – Miami 0-of-11
- Total yards: Louisville 554 – Miami 174
- Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater completed 35-of-45 passes for 447 yards and three scores, and ran six times for 24 yards and a touchdown.
- Louisville WR DeVante Parker caught nine passes for 142 yards and a touchdown.
- Miami QB Stephen Morris completed 12-of-27 passes for 160 yards
- Louisville MLB Preston Brown made seven tackles with a sack and two tackles for loss.
- Louisville DE Marcus Smith made two tackles with two sacks, a forced fumble and a broken up pass.

Louisville 31, at Cincinnati 24 OT
Basically … Louisville was able to come through in overtime on a two-yard Dominique Brown touchdown run, and Cincinnati wasn’t able to answer, with a last gasp fourth down pass failing to connect. The Bearcats were able to force overtime on a 26-yard Tony Miliano field goal with seven seconds to play, just a few minutes after Teddy Bridgewater gave the Cardinals the lead with a hit third touchdown pass of the game – and the second to DeVante Parker – from four yards away. Bridgewater and Parker connected on a 36-yard score early in the first quarter, but the biggest moment came on a brilliant 22-yard pitch-and-catch to a leaping Damian Copeland midway through the fourth. Brendon Kay ran for two short scores for the Bearcats for a 14-10 lead going into the fourth, and Ralph Abernathy ran for a 15-yard score after the Copeland grab.
- Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater completed 23-of-37 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns with a pick.
- Cincinnati QB Brendon Kay completed 22-of-40 passes for 304 yards and two picks, and he ran 11 times for 23 yards and two touchdowns.
- Louisville WR DeVante Parker caught nine passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
- Penalties: Louisville 7 for 60 yards – Cincinnati 2 for 18

at Louisville 24, Memphis 17
Basically … The Cardinals got up 24-3 in the third quarter and coasted from there, even though Memphis came up with a late push. Preston Brown returned a fumble for a score in the first quarter, DeVante Parker caught a 39-yard touchdown pass and Dominique Brown ran for a four-yard score. Memphis scored 14 points in the fourth with Paxton Lynch running for a score and finding Jesse Milleson for a six-yard touchdown, but the Cardinals hung on.
- Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater completed 26-of-36 passes for 220 yards and a score.
- Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 11-of-23 passes for 144 yards with a score with a pick, and he ran eight times for 26 yards and a touchdown.
- Memphis converted 2-of-12 third down chances and gained just 279 yards. Louisville converted 11-of-19 third down tries.
- Louisville RB Dominique Brown ran 17 times for 54 yards and a score. The team averaged 3.1 yards per run.

at Louisville 20, Houston 13
Basically … A sluggish Louisville took control in the second half with Dominique Brown as the workhorse barreling to a three-yard touchdown early in the third, and John Wallace hit a 39-yard field goal to provide a wee bit of breathing room. Wallace made a 37-yarder in the second quarter and Brown ran for a 13-yard score for a 10-0 UofL lead, but Houston came back on two Kyle Bullard field goals and a three-yard Dominique Brown touchdown run.
- Louisville RB Dominique Brown ran 27 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
- Louisville held the ball for 37:49, and Houston had it for 22:11.
- Houston QB John O’Korn completed 16-of-35 passes for 121 yards.
- The Cougars finished with 195 yards of total offense.

Louisville 31, at Connecticut 10
Basically … Teddy Bridgewater only threw one touchdown pass, but the defense and special teams did most of the work for the Cardinals with a blocked punt for a score and a pick six from Terrell Floyd on the way to a 31-3 lead. Connecticut turned the ball over five times and didn’t get into the end zone until there were 35 seconds to play on a 14-yard Kamal Abrams catch.
- Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater completed 21-of-37 passes for 288 yards and a score with a pick. He also ran seven times for 21 yards.
- Connecticut QB Tim Boyle completed 14-of-29 passes for 113 yards and three picks. Casey Cochran completed 6-of-9 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown.
- Louisville committed 12 penalties for 101 yards to Connecticut’s two for ten yards. The Cardinals were +4 in turnover margin.
- Louisville’s Terrell Floyd came up with two interceptions, taking one for a touchdown.

Louisville 34 at South Florida 3, Oct. 26
Basically … Louisville completely dominated South Florida in all phases of the game, never trailing South Florida in Tampa. The Cardinals opened the scoring on a touchdown pass from Teddy Bridgewater, who'd go on to complete 25-of-29 for 344 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
- An ability to bounce back, especially on the road, from a tough loss to UCF was a very good sign for Louisville for the rest of the season. The Cardinals, on both sides of the ball, once again looked like a team worthy of being ranked in the Top 25. The defense didn’t let the USF offense breathe, while Bridgewater bounced back with a flawless performance. They didn’t let UCF beat them twice.

UCF 38 … at Louisville 35
Basically … Blake Bortles found Jeff Godfrey for a two-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds to play to give UCF a three point lead, and Teddy Bridgewater’s Hail Mary attempt fell to the turf as the Cardinals’ dream season crashed with a thud. Louisville was up 28-7 helped by two Bridgewater touchdown passes and a fumble return for a score off a botched punt snap, and everything seemed fine with 20 minutes to play, but UCF roared back on two touchdowns from Storm Johnson and a 12-yard William Stanback run as part of a run of 24 straight points before Louisville took the lead back on Dominique Brown’s second touchdown run of the day with three minutes to play. But the Cardinal defense couldn’t hold.
- Blake Bortles wasn’t perfect, but he was terrific when he had to be, completing 21-of-32 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns with a pick. It took a little while to get rolling, but when UCF could’ve packed it in late in the third quarter, it turned up the intensity offensively with a sharp short-range passing game and the play of Storm Johnson to balance out the attack. All of a sudden, UCF looked a little bit quicker and stronger on both sides of the ball.
- The Louisville defense will get the blame for not being able to hang on to a lead, but the offense shares some of the responsibility. Teddy Bridgewater might have come though in the final minutes to give the Cardinals the lead, but the O stalled, and worse, gave the ball away. It was a night-and-day different game over the final 20 minutes.
- Where was the Louisville running game when it needed it? Dominique Brown averaged 7.3 yards per carry, but he only ran 12 times. Senorise Perry only ran eight times for 18 yards, and Michael Dyer continues to fail to do much running once for three yards. Bridgewater had to carry the offense completing 29-of-38 passes for 341 yards and two scores.
- Storm Johnson was the best player on the field. Of course, Bridgewater is the biggest talent, but Johnson did it all with 109 rushing yards and four catches for 79 yards and a weaving score. Louisville’s defense didn’t have any answers once the floodgates opened up.

at Louisville 24 … Rutgers 10
Basically … Louisville wasn’t dominant, but it did what it had to do getting up 17-0 helped by a 34-yard Kai De La Cruz touchdown catch and a one-yard Senorise Perry scoring run. Rutgers rallied back with a one-yard Tyler Kroft scoring grab late in the first, but a 36-yard Kyle Federico field goal was all the offense could muster in the second half. The Cards put it away in the final minutes on a six-yard Eli Rogers grab. The two teams combined for seven turnovers.
- The offense might get all the credit and national attention, but it was the defense that gave Louisville the big win. Safety Calvin Pryor was a menace making 14 tackles with a pick.
- The high-powered Rutgers offense never got going, and worst of all, it didn’t take advantage of the several Louisville mistakes. This was hardly the Cardinals’ best game, but the Scarlet Knights struggled to come up with any sort momentum.
- If there was any Heisman shot for Teddy Bridgewater, it might be gone for those who saw the game. He wasn’t miserable completing 21-of-31 passes for 310 yards and two scores, but he threw a pick and gave up a fourth quarter fumble. He got the win, and he probably has made Louisville a lock for a second straight BCS game after this win, but it wasn’t a superior, Heisman performance.
- Rutgers got absolutely nothing out of a running game that time and again forced the offense into second-and-third and longs. Gary Nova had to press too much, but the four picks weren’t all because he was trying to make things happen. Give the suffocating UofL defense credit.

Louisville 30, at Temple 7
Basically … Louisville didn’t have any problems, cranking out the first 30 points of the game with two Teddy Bridgewater touchdown passes, a two-yard Dominique Brown scoring run and three John Wallace field goals. Temple finally got on the board in the final seconds on a nine-yard Jalen Fitzpatrick touchdown catch.
- This is exactly what Louisville needed with the Rutgers showdown just a few days away on Thursday night. Teddy Bridgewater took target practice, and the defense didn’t have to break much of a sweat stopping the anemic Owl attack.
- Temple is giving it a shot. Connor Reilly completed just 3-of-7 passes for 25 yards, and P.J. Walker came in and started to move the offense a bit, and while he completed 10-of-19 passes for 182 yards with a touchdown and a pick, he also showed off a little bit of mobility. The Owls need something to work.
- The Owls actually generated a little bit of pressure on Bridgewater, but it didn’t matter too much. The Cardinals didn’t have to take too many chances with Temple not being able to show much early on. All of a sudden, it was 24-0 going into halftime and there wasn’t any passing game to make it interesting.
- Louisville has an NFL starting quarterback in Bridgewater, but at some point the gameplan should revolve more around the ground game. The backs are in place to carry the offense, and they should all be fresh considering the rotation. Sinorise Perry, Michael Dyer and Dominique Brown are cranking out yards in big chunks.

at Louisville 72, Florida International 0
Basically … It took the Cardinals about a half a quarter to find a groove, and then it got ugly in a hurry. Teddy Bridgewater threw three first half touchdown passes on the way to a 38-0 lead, and Charles Gaines made it worse to start out the second half with a kickoff return for a score. Bridgewater found Eli Rogers for a 34-yard touchdown pass midway through the third, and then the bench was emptied. Florida International came up with just 30 yards of offense.
- THERE were go, Louisville. FIU might stink, but if you want America to care, this is the type of performance you need to keep cranking out. This went beyond total dominance. FIU only came up with two first downs and 30 yards of total offense. 30. The Cardinals didn’t even do anything fancy. They ramped up the intensity a bit and took the game seriously. It showed.
- FIU came up with three rushing yards. The offensive line had no answers whatsoever for the Cardinal defensive front that came up with 12 tackles for loss and four sacks. DE Marcus Smith destroyed the Golden Panther backfield.
- Everyone got to have fun for UofL. Teddy Bridgewater completed 17-of-22 passes for 212 yards and four scores, while Will Gardner it all five of his passes for 42 yards and a touchdown. Both got all day to throw.
- It’s the anti-Oregon. FIU ran a grand total of 43 plays. The clock was moving very, very quickly.

Louisville 27, at Kentucky 13, Sept. 14
Basically … Louisville didn’t exactly come out hot, but the defense kept the game tight. Teddy Bridgewater found DeVante Parker for a 13-yard touchdown and Senorise Perry scored twice on the way to a 27-6 lead before UK finally got into the end zone on a three-yard Alexander Montgomery catch late in the fourth.
- Because these things matter, it’ll be a hard sell for Teddy Bridgewater to win the Heisman after this. He completed 16-of-28 passes for 250 yards and a score, and while he didn’t make any mistakes and the Cardinals got the win, it was hardly impressive.
- Kentucky is still playing around with its quarterback situation, and both options had their good and bad moments. Maxwell Smith only completed 9-of-20 passes for 109 yards, while Jalen Whitlow showed more mobility and a wee bit more accuracy. Neither one could move the offense to meaningful points.
- Avery Williamson continues to be Kentucky’s main defensive playmaker making 15 stops with a tackle for loss. The defensive front got decent pressure at times on Bridgewater.
- Senorise Parker keeps establishing himself as the Cardinals’ main rusher, going 11 times for 100 yards and two scores. Michael Dyer had a nice game, too, with 62 yards on 11 carries.

at Louisville 44, Eastern Kentucky 7, Sept. 7
Basically … Teddy Bridgewater threw four touchdown passes and the defense allowed just 206 yards and a 15-yard score in a layup win. John Wallace connected on three field goals for the Cardinals, but the rest of the offense clicked just fine with DeVante Parker catching scoring passes from 19 and 42 yards out.
- It might not have been the well-oiled machine it was against Ohio, but the Louisville offense was more than fine with Bridgewater throwing for 397 yards along with the four scores. There were a few stalls leading to field goals, but nothing to worry about against a cupcake.
- The concern? The running game averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. Michael Dyer averaged just 3.1 yards per pop and Senorise Perry ran 13 times for 36 yards.
- It might have been a layup, but Louisville did exactly what you’re supposed to do in an easy game like this. The defense took the game seriously from the start. The Cardinals looked dialed in.

at Louisville 49, Ohio 7, Sept. 1
Basically … Teddy Bridgewater threw one bad interceptions. Otherwise, he was perfect throwing for 355 yards and five touchdowns including two in the first quarter to Damian Copeland and with two more bombs in the second to DeVante parker and Kai De La Cruz. Michael Dyer got into the act with a 46-yard touchdown dash early in the third. Down 42-0, Ohio finally got on the board with a ten-yard Ryan Boykin touchdown run on the last play of the third quarter.
- Yeeeeeesh. That was a razor-sharp performance by the Cardinals against a good MAC team. Teddy Bridgewater will get all the respect and love, but he was given ten days to throw and wide open targets to hit.
- Ohio got run over by a steamroller. QB Tyler Tettleton was way, way off for a player of his caliber, and Beau Blankenship didn’t have any room to rumble running just 12 times for 22 yards.
- Penalties. It was the only negative for the Cards committing 11 for 90 yards. Call them first game mistakes, and they didn’t matter, but those have to slow down fast.
- The Bobcats simply didn’t have any answers. The lack of a steady pass rush killed the secondary, and Bridgewater took advantage. The D had to start taking more chances, and it got burnt.

Spring Analysis

Why To Get Excited … Fresh off a stunning Sugar Bowl upset of Florida, the Cardinals are the heavy favorite to return to a BCS bowl game in their final Big East season. The team is loaded with proven talent on both sides of the ball, while head coach Charlie Strong has done a remarkable job of keeping the staff intact.

Why To Be Grouchy … If Louisville is going to maximize all of the skill position talent surrounding QB Teddy Bridgewater, it’ll have to patch up two gaping holes on the offensive line. The 2012 edition’s two most accomplished blockers, LT Alex Kupper and C Mario Benavides, finished their college careers in the Superdome on Jan. 2.

The Number One Thing to Work on Is … special teams. The Cardinals are quickly ascending under Strong, but they’ll need to correct the small things in order to live up to Top 10 billings. The special teams unit was a vast wasteland a year ago, struggling badly in every imaginable phase of the game.

Team Concerns For 2013: Expectations? With 19 returning starters and a big puffy chest after the Sugar Bowl win, the hype will be through the roof for the Cardinals. However, there's still work to be done for a running game that sputtered and coughed, averaging just 123 yards per game. The defense didn't get into the backfield enough, finishing last in the Big East in sacks and tackles for loss. The special teams are a major issue outside of kicker John Wallace, who hit 16-of-21 field goals. The punting game was the second worst in the nation, the kickoff returners were the third worst, and the punt return game was the Big East's worst.

Non-Conference Games: Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, at Kentucky, FIU
Realistic Best Case Record: 12-0
Worst Case Record: 8-4
Likely Finish: 11-1

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, at Kentucky, FIU, at Temple, Rutgers, UCF, at USF, at Connecticut, Houston, Memphis

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Cincinnati

Schedule Analysis: There’s no excuse. There isn’t a prolonged run of road games like most Big East teams have to deal with, and there’s no one on the schedule who should be the favorite. The Cardinals don’t have a tough non-conference game – no, going to Kentucky doesn’t count – and the big conference showdown against Rutgers is at home. If this really is a BCS caliber team, going to South Florida and Connecticut won’t be a problem, and home games against Houston and Memphis should be layups before getting a week off to prepare for the toughest game on the slate at Cincinnati.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Linemen. Receiver James Quick is the best recruit by any Big East team, and Kyle Bolin is a good quarterback to develop under Teddy Bridgewater, but the class is about the lines and building up the infrastructure. The offensive side gets Cameron Fraser and Skylar Lacy at tackle - both have the right frame and body to be effective after a few years in the weight room - while defensive tackles De'Asian Richardson and Finesse Middleton are nice gets. Linebacker Donel Elam will eventually be a starter, and Keith Kelsey will someday be one of the team's leading tacklers.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 44. That Class Was Heavy On ... The lines. The defensive line needs prospects to develop for 2014 and beyond, but the bigger need haul should come for the interior of the offensive line that’s set for a while with John Miller and Jake Smith at guard, but with quality depth a must. The Cardinals won’t go heavy on tackles, but they’ll have more than their share of blockers. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 30. That Class Was Heavy On ... Secondary. The star of the show needs to be Teddy Bridgewater, a tall, talented passer out of Miami who moves well and is the type of calm, cool presence to make an offense shine. He spurned Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, and other big names to be the main man for the Cardinal attack, and head coach Charlie Strong hopes he has his Vince Young. He’ll have a terrific target to throw to in 6-3 speedster DeVante Parker, and Eli Rogers and Charles Gaines out of Miami, with Rogers working as Bridgewater’s main man at Miami Northwestern, will help. The strength is in the secondary with safety Gerod Holliman a future Big East star and corners Andrew Johnson and Terrell Floyd two Floridians who could see time right away.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 42. That Class Was Heavy On ... The passing game. New head man Charlie Strong brought in three quarterbacks led by Dominique Brown, and they'll have plenty of targets to work with.  Six wideouts signed on and they all fit a type with decent size and tremendous speed. Michaelee Harris out of Miami is the best of the group, but Stephan Robinson could grow into a dangerous playmaker. The defense has its star to build around in end B.J. Butler, a speed rusher who could've gone to Alabama or Florida.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 63. That Class Was Heavy On ... junior college transfers. Can you smell the desperation coming out of Northern Kentucky? Steve Kragthorpe, in need of instant help, went heavy on JUCO transfers, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The scales tipped overwhelmingly toward the D in this class, though Kragthorpe did land Santa Rosa (Calif.) College QB Andrew Froman, who’ll be in the mix to replace Hunter Cantwell.


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