Hell week ends for Louisville with win over Florida State

Plenty of accolades to go around following the University of Louisville football team’s 31-28 win over Florida State Saturday at Tallahassee:

— Kicker Blanton Creque for that 34-yard field goal with five seconds left on the clock. First game winner ever for him in the closing seconds. More than making up for a dud at the end of the first half.

— Running back Dae Williams finally making it into the backfield after recovering from an injury that kept him on the bench for most of the season. The freshman scoring his first touchdown on a 25-yard dash in the third quarter. The long wait for him finally over.

— Running back Reggie Bonnafon in one of his better offensive performances, 74 yards rushing and a two-yard touchdown. Never flashy but never to be counted out.

— Cornerback Trumaine Washington intercepting two Florida State passes, including that one he returned 22 yards in the second quarter leading to a UofL touchdown in the second quarter. Finally making an opposing quarterback pay, twice even.

— Quarterback Lamar Jackson, of course, rushing for 178 yards and a touchdown while passing for an additional 156 yards and another touchdown. The exceptional becoming the expected.

— Defensive Coordinator Peter Sirmon for a noticeable improvement in his defensive unit’s tackling, holding Florida State’s offense to 155 yards rushing. Earning a reprieve from the boo birds for at least six days.

— Junior linebacker Isaac Stewart in on nine tackles, including five solo tackles. Emerging from the pack, providing much needed leadership. Goodbye obscurity.

— Coach Bobby Petrino winning his second game in four tries against Florida State. First win in Tallahassee for the Cardinals since Johnny U in 1952. His offense at times more closely resembling Bobby 1.0 this day.

Down goes Florida State again, ending the week from hell for Louisville fans. Needed that one.

Vince Tyra will build on Tom Jurich’s legacy at Louisville

No one knows how long the Vince Tyra era will last at the University of Louisville. Not even him. Could be a few months, several years, or a lifetime commitment. He’s around as long as he needed to assure the long-term future of UofL athletics.

Vince Tyra says he will not allow athletics to be deemphasized at UofL (Charlie Springer photo).

Tyra is a prominent businessman, having been a chief executive officer five times. He’s been involved in numerous turnarounds and followed in the footsteps of so-called legends. Been through the rigors of corporate reorganizations, expansions and startups. Knows how to work with people in good times and bad times. Greatly respected in business and university circles.

Tyra didn’t need a job when Tom Jurich was suspended and fired from his position as Vice President of Athletics. Tyra did feel the need to get involved when the school needed someone who could work with athletes, students, fans, donors, and the community during the crisis.

Why get in the middle of a situation in which many UofL fans and supporters are angry and suspicious of some members of the Board of Trustees? Some of those angry people include big time donors with strong feelings about Tom Jurich. They also include long-time season ticket holders in basketball and football, some threatening to quit their involvement. They include students, some of which want to protest in ways that would harm the program financially.

Tyra’s father Charlie was UofL’s first consensus All America basketball player. His mother Sibby, who raised her five kids to be UofL fans, sits in the third row at the KFC Yum! Center and at the 40 yard line at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. He is a long-time contributor to UofL sports and was serving on the board of the UofL Foundation.

Even though he played baseball on scholarship at the University of Kentucky, Tyra has always been first and foremost a UofL fan. The combination of his athletic background, his business expertise and his love for UofL are strong qualifiers. On top of that, he has been a fan and friend of Tom Jurich, greatly admiring and appreciating everything TJ accomplished at UofL.

The University, especially the athletic department, is fortunate that a person like Vince Tyra was available, that he was willing to undertake such a crucial role at a critical juncture in the school’s history. Some would say his willingness to undertake the job was a godsend. Few people would be as qualified as Tyra to step into the brink.

“It has been a difficult time, sad and disappointing,” he said during a recent press conference. “Tom is a good friend, he’s been a terrific advocate of my family. His legacy is all around us.”

As a member of the UofL fan base, Tyra can appreciate what fans are going through. “I’m passionate about the University of Louisville, I’m passionate about sports. I grew up a Cardinal fan, raised my kids to be Cardinal fans.”

Tyra said fans should not be concerned about the University, or more specifically this Board of Trustees, deemphasizing athletics. “The administration recognizes the value of athletics to UofL and, frankly, I would not allow that to happen,” he said. “Now is a time for our fan base to dig in deeper and be more supportive, in any way we can.”

UofL fans will greatly miss Jurich, as will Tyra. But now is a time to look forward, and that’s what Tyra is doing, boldly stepping forward, strongly intent on building upon Tom Jurich’s legacy.

No stopping Boston College for UofL’s leaky defense

Louisville’s defensive line needed lots of help from linebacker Dorian Etheridge (17). He would make nine solo tackles and get five assists (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Wide receiver Jaylen Smith finally back in action, with 118 yards on six catches.

Wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick as good as ever, turning seven catches into 127 yards, including a touchdown.

Running back Reggie Bonnafon actually breaking loose for a 64-yard touchdown.

Lamar Jackson tossed for three touchdowns and ran for two others (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Quarterback Lamar Jackson living up to his reputation, with more amazing stats, including 181 yards and three touchdowns rushing, 323 yards and two touchdowns passing.

Some nice offensive stats, just not enough of them.

The University of Louisville’s offense could still be putting up points but there would never be enough. The defense was incapable of stopping Boston College, the Cardinals losing 45-42 in a three-ring offensive circus before 44,679 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

UofL’s defense remained as porous as always, seemingly unable to stop anyone on the first tackle attempt, usually on the second or third attempt. Not a pretty picture, foreshadowing visions of even more dismal performances in the weeks ahead against stronger opponents.

The exception was UofL linebacker Dorian Etheridge, the 6-foot-3 freshman winding up with nine solo tackles and five assists.

Jaylen Smith’s joyous return would be spoiled by a fumble following a catch with less than two minutes remaining at UofL’s 30-yard line. Just a matter of time, Boston College wasn’t going to be denied, converting a 27-yard field goal for the win in the closing seconds.

Boston College’s first Atlantic Coast Conference win since 2014, Louisville’s third ACC loss in four games this season. More than likely, it’s going to get uglier before it gets better for UofL football. Prepare yourself.

Sure wins have disappeared from UofL football schedule

The game at North Carolina State was expected to provide a barometer of where the University of Louisville stands in the college football landscape. The conclusion following a 39-25 thrashing is not deniable, that the Cardinals are close to being on life support.

Unfortunately UofL has few offensive options than Lamar Jackson in the running game and it’s finally catching up with the Cardinals (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

An embarrassing offensive performance, with UofL leaning heavily on quarterback Lamar Jackson for everything but returning kickoffs and punts. Jackson running for 102 of Louisville’s 119 rushing yards and passing for 354 yards.

The offensive line, which was supposed to be improved, has yet to arrive, giving up four Jackson sacks and losses for 30 yards. Making it even more difficult for running back Malik Williams and Reggie Bonnafon, getting only 10 handoffs for 44 yards between them.

What once appeared to be a light football schedule has become a barricade.

UofL’s passing defense is almost non-existent as well, consistently giving up 300 yards through the air to four Power Five opponents. Scenes of UofL defenders flailing at receivers, allowing opponents to march down the field at ease, have become commonplace.

Jackson, who was supposed to be older and smarter, is older but his decisions aren’t getting any better. Those short bullet passes to receivers aren’t any easier to handle and the overthrows down field are becoming more frequent. He completed only 26 of 48 passing attempts against NC State.

One want to give him credit for hanging on to the ball, with no fumbles, but that one interception in the fourth quarter was a game clincher for the Wolfpack. By then UofL was totally predictable and a pick six was inevitable.

What once appeared to be a light football schedule is now a barricade. The immediate future littered with “formidable” opponents like Boston College, Wake Forest, Florida State, Virginia, Syracuse and Kentucky. None of them no longer considered sure wins.

Vince Tyra shares Tom Jurich’s passion for Louisville athletics

Vince Tyra’s top priority personally and professionally is to see UofL athletics continue to thrive.

We may never know how many people were interviewed by the school to fill the acting athletic director’s role during Tom Jurich’s suspension.

Nor should we care because Vince Tyra appears to have been an amazing hire.

Uniquely qualified in so many ways, for either the short-term or the long haul, ready to totally  immerse himself in his new post as Acting Athletic Director at the University of Louisville.

He’s a life-long UofL fan who closely follows the school’s academic and athletic programs, wanting to take them to the highest levels. He hails from a UofL family and the son of the basketball program’s first consensus All-American basketball player.

Tyra is congratulated by his wife Lori following the press conference.

And he admires and respects Tom Jurich for what he has accomplished at UofL, considering Jurich among the best in the business.

“I’m passionate about UofL athletics, I grew up a Cardinals’ fan, raised my kids as Cardinals’ fans,” he said during a Tuesday press conference  at Bigelow Hall on Belknap Campus. “Tom is a good friend. His legacy is all around us. While this has been a difficult period for us, it’s a time for our fan base to dig in even deeper. It’s a time for us to be even more supportive.

“While this is a difficult process of what we’re going through, we have a terrific set of athletic programs all across the board. One of them may have a flat tire right now, but we will prop it back up. I’m looking forward to work with David Padgett.”

Tyra’s 80-year old mother still attends every UofL basketball game and he said she cheers like her late husband Charlie Tyra is still playing for the Cardinals. His father averaged more 20 points and 20 rebounds per game during his junior and senior seasons, leading Louisville to a National Invitation Tournament championship in his junior year.

Vince has blazed his own trail, has been enormously successful in business, serving as Chief Executive Officer for five companies, most recently as operating partner in Southfield Capital and as an advisor to ISCO Industries where he served as president. He was also president of retail and active wear at Fruit of the Loom.

Interim President Greg Postel listens intently during Tyra’s remarks.

When a new board was appointed for the University of Louisville Foundation last year, Tyra was named chairman of the ULF’s finance committee, establishing new guidelines to control spending and to restore credibility with major university donors.

After leaving a ULF board meeting last week, Tyra walked down to the baseball field where he met with UofL Coach Dan McDonnell. “We stood on the field and just talked. I know he’s a leader among our coaches. We’ve got a great group of coaches, many of them have been here more than 10 years. I’m going to enjoy working with all of them.”

It was obvious during his introductory press conference that Vince Tyra is an individual who has considered himself a part of the University of Louisville family. He was convincing when he said very much appreciates what Tom Jurich has done for the school.

One got the feeling that while he would devote a great deal of energy to the job and probably be enormously successful, Vince Tyra would have no problem stepping aside if Tom Jurich were allowed to return and continue his life’s work. They share a common interest, first and foremost, in seeing UofL thrive and prosper again.