Louisville football and those defensive cliffhangers

Admit it. One was certain if North Carolina State had scored on that fourth and five with 50 seconds to go, the Wolfpack would have been back in teh red zone a couple plays later.

Familiar script. Onside kick, couple of pass plays, back in the red zone. Similar to scary endings in all the University of Louisville football team’s wins in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season.

Except that this UofL defense, which has given up a ton of yards in the final two minutes of, would somehow bat the football away. Specifically, Louisville’s Chandler Jones denying NC State’s Emeka Emezie the ball in the end zone. Giving UofL a 34-20 victory.

The UofL defense has had more than its share of challenges this season, worn out, hanging on for dear life at times, seemingly needing a break to survive. But anyone who kn0ws football, who saw them give up so many times last season, knows that the group has made gigantic strides this year.

All suspense has taken a toll on Louisville football fans. More importantly, however, the defensive unit is learning as it goes, getting smarter if not stronger, somehow overcoming a serious lack of depth. Competing until the very end.

Coach Scott Satterfield has been successful in vastly improving UofL’s won-lost record at 6-4 and the Cardinals eligible for a post season bowl selection. In the process, he is building a strong foundation for success next season and beyond.

But for now, the last-second histrionics will continue to be the norm..


UofL fans have to prioritize with overlapping, packed schedules

More than a few future Cardinals turning out for University of Louisville men’s and women’s basketball games over the weekend (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

College basketball is back en masse for University of Louisville fans even though November has yet to reach the halfway point.  Competing head on with college and pro football  just weeks into their seasons.

Some complaints about attendance following the UofL men’s 78-55 win over Youngstown State on Sunday, a game that attracted 14,761 people at the KFC Yum! Center.  Not to worry, still the best attended game among more than half a dozen games in college basketball on Sunday.

Lamar Jackson was the main attraction at the Baltimore Ravens game at Cincinnati on Sunday (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

What the belly-achers weren’t taking into consideration was the fact that former UofL quarterback Lamar Jackson was leading the Baltimore Ravens to a 49-13 win over the Bengals in Cincinnati. The NFL game started an hour before the basketball game, and attracted hundreds if not thousands of UofL fans, with many more watching on TV at home.

Jackson expressing his appreciation to all of the Louisville people making the trek, many of them decked out in red UofL football jerseys or purple Ravens’ jerseys. Like a homecoming for Jackson, coming to Cincinnati and seeing all those Cardinal fans.

“I think we had half a city of Louisville in the stadium,” said Ravens Coach John Harbaugh.

An unforgettable day on the field, too, with Lamar Jackson throwing for three touchdowns in a near-perfect passing performance and adding a legendary 47-yard scoring run that will be added to the all-time NFL highlights reel.

The UofL women improving their record to 2-0 start with a 76-40 win over Murray State before 7,992 fans for a 76-40 win over Murray State. Jeff Walz still looking for the right combinations, getting 14 point and 13 point performances from Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Louisville football team getting its ass handed to it in a 52-27 loss at Miami. The Cardinals gaining the Hurricanes offensively 496 to 449 yards but unable to defend a freshman quarterback. Getting burned on a school-record six touchdown passes.

Louisville athletics demanding our attention with a crowded schedule, only so much of us to go around.  Men’s and women’s games overlapping at times. Enough with the attendance gripes, please.

Gallery courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton

Weather ne’er a factor in Louisville win over Virginia

Lots of threatening clouds and continuing gusts of wind. Menacing threats all week long from the TV weather guys. Not all that much to be concerned about, however, for diehard University of Louisville football fans at Cardinal Stadium.

Most of the moisture falling in the last five minutes, amounting to not much more than a mild distraction. Louisville claiming still another win in the Atlantic Coast Conference, all three conference wins going down to the final seconds, the final play.  The Cardinals finally prevailing, 28-21, improving to 3-2 in the conference and 5-3 overall.

After the win, a Louisville team now needing  only one more to be bowl eligible. A team skipping the “needing to learn how to win” phase, rejecting the underdog role, already competitive under the first year coach Scott Satterfield.

The UofL offense shredding a Virginia defense with 227 yards on the ground, against a defense that was allowing only 96 yards per game this season. The Cardinals added 133 more in the air for a total of 360 yards while allowing the Cavaliers 311 yards offensively.

Javian Hawkins became the first UofL freshman ever to exceed 100 yards in five consecutive home games. He was good for 136 yards in 28 carries, including two touchdowns. His final touchdown run of 17 yards at the 2:41 mark providing the margin of victory.

Malik Micale Cunningham staying healthy for an entire game, rushing for 114 yards himself, including a rushing touchdown, while connecting on six of 10 passing attempts for 126 yards. One of those a touchdown heave to Tutu Atwell on a 77-yard pass play.

“Number one, I don’t think we’re good enough to go and blow teams out. We have to fight and claw for everything we get. That’s why every yard we get, we’re not sliding, we’re trying to get it. That’s the way we are offensively,” said Satterfield.  “We’re a scrappy bunch. We’re playing for each other and sometimes you’re going to win games like this. Believe me, I would much rather win by three touchdowns…”

Probably one of the more enjoyable games against a highly regarded opponents at Cardinal Stadium in recent years. A shame so many of the Cardinal faithful were intimidated by the weather forecasts. The bandwagon effect should be spilling over at the final home game against Syracuse.

Louisville football gets better in a 35-point loss

Clemson cornerback Clemson linebacker Andrew Booth lands a blow to the head of UofL’s Trennell Troutman and is immediately ejected from the game (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

A game the Observer will tuck away among the memories for numerous reasons despite the University of Louisville football team on the wrong end of a 45-10 loss to third-ranked Clemson. A beautiful day of football and 51,015 fans at Cardinal Stadium.

The best part personally was having son Steve on hand for his first Louisville football game in several years. Getting up in the wee hours for the four-hour trip from Murray, coincidentally greeted by the UofL marching band as the car pulls into the tailgating area. He’s an even bigger Cardinal fan than the Observer, believe it or not.

Steve Springer welcomed back to Cardinal Stadium by the UofL Marching Band .

A close second was the effectiveness of the UofL defense during the early stages of the game, limiting the defending national champions to a three-point lead in the first quarter and a 14-point deficit in the first half. This was essentially the same defense that gave up 77 points to Clemson in a 61-point loss last season.

Except that this isn’t the same defense, not even in the same neighborhood as last year’s. Blessed with a new set of coaches who have inspired a sense of competitive spirit into a team that was playing in a coaching-deprived void in 2018. Making Clemson fight for every yard on Saturday, long after it was obvious that UofL is lacking any depth on the defensive side.

Continue reading “Louisville football gets better in a 35-point loss”

How football rose to power on college campuses

By Terry McMillan

The National Football League (NFL) may be the top tier for American football in the United States, but its historical importance is much less significant. The sport we know today had its beginnings in the 19th century, when it diverged from the English sports of association football (soccer) and rugby football (rugby).

Many of the rules that led to American football were championed by Yale University graduate and football coach, Walter Camp. He had been a rugby player before he began to make tweaks to the game. Camp originated the line of scrimmage and the downs system that distinguish American football from other forms of the sport.

An economic powerhouse

College level sports outside of the United States are typically not given as much money or attention, with sports facilities being typically designed to act as community sports centres as well. The sheer size of college football in America can be seen from the fact that major sportsbook companies like FoxBet take dozens of different bets on NCAAF games, including moneyline and points spread wagers and in-game propositional bets.

The first game between two college teams took place on November 6, 1869, between Rutgers and Princeton, with Rutgers prevailing 6-4. This was 23 years before the first professional football game, which took place between the Allegheny Athletic Association and the Pittsburgh Athletic Club on November 12, 1892.

The rules for the first college game were very different from the college football we know today. Firstly, carrying or throwing the ball was not allowed; the main objective was to kick the ball into the opponent’s goal (similar to soccer today).

Harvard Holds Out

Photo by Cindy Rice Shelton

In the 1870s US colleges tried to come together to agree a standard set of rules so that they could more easily schedule games against each other. Prior to this, each college played slightly different variations of the rules. Whilst most colleges had been pushing to play a form of football that was similar to soccer, Harvard resisted, instead wanting to play a rougher game where the player could carry the ball under certain circumstances instead. After playing a game of rugby against McGill, Harvard quickly took to these rules and over time this began to morph into the modern American football rules.

In almost all other sports, minor leagues are where the younger and less experienced players get to develop their skills before being signed by a team in the major league. This is common across most countries, as well as most sports.

College football is an exception, acting as the training and proving ground for new talent. This created the need for the NFL Draft, since players cannot be signed up to development programmes earlier in their careers.

At a time when soccer and rugby were growing in popularity, American colleges could have just as easily opted to play one of those sports. Instead, due to some prominent individuals like Walter Camp and some stubborn players at Harvard, we instead have the uniquely developed rules of American football. Colleges have done well to maintain their prominence in the sport, despite the phenomenal growth of the NFL.