Fan of the Week

Fan of the Week honors go to Joey Strader, a fan of the football Cards for more than 25 years. Joey was tailgating at a U of L-UK game in Lexington in 1995 when his wife Lisa said she felt a little funny. After returning from a restroom, she told Joey that they would soon deliver their first child.

A friend informed police, who began clearing a path for the Straders’ car. When asked if he wanted a police escort to a Lexington hospital, Joey replied, “There’s no way a kid of mine is going to be born in Lexington.” A few hours later, Hannah was born a Louisville hospital. (Hannah is the taller daughter in the photo, with dad and Rachel, 8.)

No fair comparing

Comparisons were inescapable.

Fans filing into Freedom Hall full of expectations for a basketball team filled with talented, veteran players, expected to compete for a national championship. Fans leave in a near state of ecstasy after the game after watching a near perfect performance.

Flash back to the spring football game, fans descend on Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to see a veteran team with the talent to compete with the nation’s best. They leave wondering what happened to the offense, thinking the U of L defense must have been amazing.

Not really fair to make comparisons, considering the amount of time the coaches have had with their respective teams. Not fair at all.

Fan reaction to Pitt Kragmire

Okay, so when it comes to U of L football, I try to put a positive spin on things. Having followed this program for several decades, I have been conditioned to doing so because the program has experienced more than a few rough spots. However, the brand of football we’ve seen this season has been frustrating. I have seen the same bad football as everybody else.

The comments of one of our readers here deserve to put up front on the board because they reflect the views of many U of L football fans:

“Unfortunately, I’m a season ticket holder who is forced to watch these disgusting…things…at close range. Observations about the Pitt game:

  • About 7000 no shows “voicing” disapproval.
  • Grey leaden sky all game, mirroring general spirit of crowd pre-game and for much of game.
  • UConn deja vu ugly train wreck of a finish — lucky to win the game. Drained most of fun out of game.
  • Another trick play against us goes for a big gain, this time a TD (what is that–5 on the season? I quit counting. ) We used to be the team that pulled the rabbits out.
  • Pedestrian, predictable play calling again, lets opposing D coordinators prepare well for us, and keeps us scoring in the 20’s (instead of 40’s) — and today we had everyone back on O, so what is the excuse now?

“The play calling says this to me: We don’t play ferociously to win –we play not to lose. The only time K gets super aggressive is with his back against the wall.

“Positives: Brian, Brock, Harry, and Bilal Powell! And maybe marginal improvement on D — but hard to tell since Pitt’s O is so bad.

“My nightmare scenario posted after the Syracuse game is going to happen: I said my fear was that K would somehow get to 5-7 or 6-6 and he’d keep his job. And we’d be stuck with mediocrity.

“Because ever since Mid Tenn (or Syracuse!) I was convinced he’s never going to be better than a top 20-40 range coach — and every game since then has merely confirmed it more in my mind.

“And, Charlie, it’s time for you to rev up and understand the new world of sports. It’s corporate to the core — Ricky P and Tom J use the code words all the time (branding, etc.).

“As in the high level corporate world, there is no long-term loyalty, on the part of the exec or the employer. The nonsense of wanting a top 10 coach to pledge to “stay forever” is fairy tale– unless he’s at the end of his career like Pitino.

“And though the high level corporate world is certainly not perfect, it is an effective, efficient system–and a very reasonable model to use here.

“If you don’t produce — you’re out quickly. VERY QUICKLY if you take over a smooth running system with 10 yrs of very “profitable” yrs and a ton of talent returning– and then start posting “losses”.

“There are no “excuses” at that level in business– nor should there be at this level in sports. The top ones simply overcome and still get it done.

“And guys like K….don’t.”

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[Agree or disagree? Please leave your comments.]

Pitt Postlude

Nobody would have been surprised if the Louisville defense had collapsed with Pittsburgh poised at the one-yard line. Pitt’s LeSean McCoy already had 125 yards behind him, needing only one more for his third touchdown. Overtime loomed.

Three minutes earlier, McCoy had appeared invincible, carrying six U of L defensive players with him from the five-yard line into the end zone.

Not this time thanks to Lamar Myles and Rod Council, U of L’s most consistent defenders all season long. Myles tipped the ball out of McCoy’s hands, Council recovered the fumble. Game over.

* * *

Brian Brohm suffers in comparison with himself. When he makes a mistake, people shake their heads. As good as he is, Brian badly needs to work at throwing the ball away when it’s obvious that a sack is coming.

* * *

Peanut? Peanut Whitehead? Was that you out there? Welcome aboard, man, we’ve been waiting for you forever.

* * *

The defense is improving, holding the opposition scoreless in the first quarter for the second game in a row. Not too shabby in the second and third quarters either. Gotta stay pumped when the clock is running out in the fourth.

* * *

Mario Urrutia four catches, no drops, and no penalties. No negative impressions. A feel good experience.

* * *

Bilal Powell continues to impress. Haven’t seen instincts and speed like that in U of L’s offensive backfield since the days of Arnold Jackson in the late nineties.

* * *

After the game, I had an opportunity to chat with Dennis Donoghue, the father of U of L offensive lineman Mike Donoghue, who suffered a career-ending spinal injury in the Cincinnati game. He was named a student assistant coach by Kragthorpe this week.

Dennis (see photo at right) was wearing the familiar No. 66 jersey in honor of his son. “Mike is obviously disappointed but he will be okay,” he said. “He has recently changed his major from communications to finance so he’s going through a lot of changes. We have a lot of confidence in him.”

What to expect vs. Pittsburgh

Fall has finally arrived, even though the leaves aren’t yet falling. Real football weather for a change. What else to expect in a battle between the two teams who surprised the college football world by defeating the Cincinnati Bearcats this year:

  • If Steve Kragthorpe is to even remotely have a shot at winning over the disbelievers, U of L must show major improvement in all aspects of the game at home against Pitt, posting a winning margin of no less than 20 points.
  • Bilal Powell will get a shot at running back. Despite season-long urging from many fans, the U of L coach discovered in the last outing that Powell has significant ball carrying skills… And we thought coaches saw more in practice than we do at games.
  • Harry Douglas will return from sabbatical, even if the weather conditions are worst than during the UConn debacle.
  • Brock Bolen will run over would-be tacklers, notching his first 100-yard running game. He’s overdue, hasn’t done it since he got 112 yards against NC State.
  • Mario Urrutia will show up, catching passes and taking hits. If he were not going to return, he would have departed — turf toe or no.
  • Yoda will reclaim his spot in the Green Lot, proclaiming: “Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.”