Still Mississippi State in the Music City

By Ed Peak

As a journalist one should never assume anything. Ask questions, check and double check facts. Pretty certain Louisville is playing Mississippi State in the Music City Bowl, December 30 at 4 p.m. (EST). That has been double checked.

Chris Mack is pretty sure Mississippi State will be opponent in the Music City Bowl (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Louisville coach Scott Satterfield was a good 15 minutes into his media briefing Sunday before a reporter told him your playing the Mississippi State. “That doesn’t change anything,” said Satterfield.

Somebody was messing with the SEC bowl picture for sure. One possible suspect, Tennessee AD Phil Fulmer, has been known to change the status quo but he’s not talking about how UT suddenly wound up in the Gator Bowl instead of the Music City Bowl.

Louisville (7-5) and Mississippi State (6-6) are not post season strangers. In 2017, Mississippi State edged the Cardinals 31-27 in the Citrus Bowl. It was quarterback Lamar Jackson’s final game in a Louisville uniform.

  “We get 15 extra practices,” said Satterfield. “We’ll treat the first seven practices like spring ball. Work on fundamentals. Blocking and tackling. Then we’ll start putting in our game plan.”

Satterfield said other than a few bumps and bruises everyone on the roster should be available except Russ Yeast, who is out for an extended period of time after an injury against Syracuse.

Quarterback Micale Cunningham has an ankle problem but should be okay. “We’re excited about playing. Where this group came from winning no conference games to five and finishing second is truly incredible.”

Satterfield was on the road recruiting when he was named Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year last week. “There were a lot of guys that did a great job, Dabo (Swinney) down at Clemson, undefeated two years in a row. Bronco (Mendenhall) at Virginia. All of my assistant coaches all the way down to the grad student coaches and, of course, the players.”

Kentucky favored by three points over UofL in unfriendly rivalry game

Photo by Mike DeZarn

By Ed Peak

No love lost between these two schools, and the outcome is always unpredictable.

I’ve been fortunate to cover the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry since it was renewed in 1994. Thank goodness for former coaches, Louisville’s Howard Schnellenberger and Kentucky’s Bill Curry and athletic directors Bill Olson and C.M. Newton.

Kentucky needed a boost in attendance to renovate Commonwealth Stadium to 65,000 seats in 1994.  Schnellenberger would play anyone, anywhere. He just wanted to play. Capacity at the renamed Kroger Field has since been reduced 60,000 seats.

The first several years the game was in Lexington because of the size of the fairgrounds stadium. Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was christened in 1998 and first year coach John L. Smith was helpless as Tim Couch and the Wildcats trounced Louisville 68-34. It was a hot day in Louisville. Couch was hotter. He still holds the opponents stadium record for most passing yards in a game with 498. Gosh, he put on a show.

Continue reading “Kentucky favored by three points over UofL in unfriendly rivalry game”

Micale Cunningham just keeps on getting better

No one was going to catch Tutu Atwell on this 90-yard touchdown pass from Micale Cunningham in the second quarter. All the scoring kept the Cardinal Bird and the National Guard busy with all those pushups celebrating another phenomenal offensive performance (Photos by Mike DeZarn).
Micale Cunningham (3) and Marshon Ford combine for UofL’s first touchdown just over four minutes after the opening kickoff (Mike DeZarn photo).

Micale Cunningham’s on the job training is coming along just fine, thank you. The University of Louisville quarterback is becoming quite comfortable throwing the football to complement his running game. Keeping opposing defenses guessing, what’s coming next.

The redshirt sophomore just keeps getting better, throwing for five touchdowns and rushing for still another in Louisville’s 56-34 win over Syracuse in the team’s final home game at Cardinal Stadium. In a span of 11 games, he has evolved from a backup quarterback to making the position look easy.

His best pass play on Saturday one of marvelous missiles catching Tutu Atwell in full stride for a 90-yard touchdown. He would get UofL in the end zone on a seven-yard pass to Marshon Ford, a 29-yarder to Seth Dawkins, a 28-yarder to Jordan Davis,  and a 14-yarder to Atwell. 

Making much of his possible was Cunningham’s freshman teammate Javian Hawkins, having the best game of his college career. The Louisville freshman rushed for an incredible 236 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown. Averaging over 10 yards per carry to surpass the freshman record posted by Victor Anderson.

Another one of those games that could have been decided in the final seconds. The UofL offense was good for a total of 608 yards, including 370 on the ground. They would need every single yard because Syracuse was accumulating a total of 561 yards, including 261 yards rushing.

The much-maligned UofL defense deserves much credit for avoiding the last minute drama. The Orange posed a serious threat in the final two minutes, starting a first-and-goal on UofL’s three-yard line. Six plays later they would give the football back to Louisville on the 18-yard line. 

Never a dull moment for UofL football. 

Gallery courtesy of Mike DeZarn:

Louisville football making up for lost ground

By Ed Peak

Your friendly correspondent pontificated on this website in August that the upcoming football season would be better than anyone thought, predicting up to five wins and an outside chance at a bowl game.

Not telling you I told you so. But low and behold, the University of Louisville is 6-4 and bowl eligible with two games to play. But no one could have foreseen this. Coach Scott Satterfield has clearly earned ACC Coach of the Year honors. Unfortuantely, that won’t happen because of undefeated Clemson and Dabo Swinney.

A friend told me early in the season that he didn’t care for Satterfield’s offense. “He runs high school plays, junior college plays,”  Well buddy, this Louisville team racked 62 points against Wake Forest, and is averaging 32.2 points and 437.2 total yards per game.

The offense led by sophomore Micale Cunningham has completed 63.2 percent of his passes and 14 touchdowns. That ranks fifth in the ACC. UofL leads the nation in yards per completion 17.06 with eight plays of 40 or more yards.

Sophomore Tutu Atwell, with his blazing speed, has 920 receiving yards,  Javian Hawkins, a redshirt freshman, has ground out 1,045 yards, needing only three more to break Victor Anderson’s record in 2008. The defense is still a work in progress, giving up an average of 432.4 yards a game and almost 28 points.

That is  still an improvement over last season’s run and hide defense. Satterfield has said every ACC win could go down to the wire and has. An onside kick flub here or there and we wouldn’t be talking this way.”We as coaches and players have to scrap and clew for everything we get,” he confided.

So enjoyable watching all those raucous locker room celebrations. Especially after all the doom and gloom last season.  There’s still more to come. Enjoy. It should be entertaining.

Louisville looks like a big winner early, but road long and winding

By Ed Peak
Photos courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton

Okay. Okay.  Okay. Put the brakes on the expectations for this Louisville basketball team. But you can’t help but feel giddy.

They haven’t played a team that have tested them and given a barometer of just how good they are. They have dispatched Miami, Florida, Youngstown State, Indiana State, North Carolina Central and South Carolina Upstate. Not exactly murders row.

But it’s the way the Cardinals have dismantled these teams. I’m a big statistics guy. It doesn’t always tell the true story but more often than not it’s a good measuring stick.

I look at field goal shooting percentage, assist to made baskets and defensive field goal percentage and turnovers. So far Louisville has passed all these categories.

UofL’s field goal shooting percentage is over 54 percent. The assist to turnover ratio is two to one and the defensive stats have opponents shooting less than 36 percent from the floor.

The Cardinals’ starting five of Darius Perry, Ryan McMahon, Steven Enoch, Dwayne Sutton and Jordan Nwora have played well and are shooting better than .53% from the floor. Off the bench Samuel Williamson, Lamar “Fresh” Kimble and Aidan Igiehon have all had their moments.

Not to mention Malik Williams and David Johnson who are back from injuries. Both played against Upstate and contributed in limited minutes.
Coach Chris Mack on more than one occasion has said, “we are a anything but a finished product.” It’s only late November.

Things get tougher beginning Sunday with Akron followed by Western Kentucky in Nashville. It continues in December with Michigan, Pittsburgh in an ACC Conference game, at Texas Tech, the NCAA runner up a year ago and the annual tussle with rival Kentucky at the end of the month.

“I personally think they are the number one team in the country,” said North Carolina Central coach Levell Moton. “You’ve got to pick and chose your poison. We dared them to shoot.”

Nwora, McMahon, Sutton shoot well from three-point range. Perry distributes the ball and Enoch is a force inside. Williamson looks like a solid player, Igiehon is improving.

What’s not to get excited about. Yes, the tough tests are coming. But enjoy this while you can. As a friend of mine told me, “this looks like a championship caliber team.”

We shall see.