Louisville football approaches another crossroads

Another one of those “biggest games in University of Louisville football history” coming up Saturday. If UofL wins, there will be several more monster games this season, each bigger that the last.

The Cardinals are facing a Herculean challenge this weekend, facing a fifth-ranked Clemson team that has won 18 games in a row at home. The official capacity of Memorial Stadium is 81,500 but the stadium can accommodate close to 90,000 for a major showdown.

Why is Bobby Petrino smiling?
Why is Bobby Petrino smiling? (Cindy Rice Shelton photo)

This game means everything to Clemson which came within five points of winning a national championship last season. The Tigers know what to expect, they will be highly motivated, and probably playing in front of a record crowd. They will be confident, charged up and expecting to win.

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, once considered the hands-down favorite for Heisman Trophy, has something to prove, having been overshadowed by UofL’s Lamar Jackson during the first four games. Watson been in the national spotlight many times, and it’s proving time, he’s ready for his moment.

The time for wishful thinking, the coulda, woulda, and shouldas, are hopefully in the past.

The Cardinals rank first in scoring offense (63.9 points per game) and total offense (with 682 yards per game). Clemson, however, ranks among the top 10 in scoring defense (11.0 points), passing defense (125 yards) and is allowing only 92.7 yard rushing per game.

Louisville is currently ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press poll for the second week in a row. The last time UofL was ranked that high was in the poll following a Thursday night win over West Virginia at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in 2006. The Cardinals weren’t there long, losing a nailbiter the following week at Rutgers.

As much as this game means for Clemson, it means so much more to the University of Louisville. The media frenzy surrounding UofL will become even more insane if the Cardinals beat Clemson, starting out 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, with wins against two teams ranked among the top five in the country.

Ten years between top five rankings is a long time, both times under Bobby Petrino’s leadership. An affirmation of Tom Jurich’s belief that Petrino is one of the best football coaches in the nation. UofL fans have seen a lot of ups and downs, not wanting to gamble on another decade.

Pardon us if we seem to be more than a little anxious about actually beating Clemson. Hard to act like one has been there before when we haven’t been there before.

The time for wishful thinking, coulda, woulda, and shoulda are hopefully in the past. The future is front of us. This Saturday at Clemson.

Schnellenberger sorry he left UofL, doubles down on prophesy

Howard Schnellenberger wants to see his prophesy fulbilled.
Howard Schnellenberger eager to see his prophesy fulfilled.

By Steve Springer

Every die-hard Card fan knows the infamous phrase that Coach Howard Schnellenberger termed during his introductory press conference when he was hired over 30 years ago. But in the event that this season’s unprecedented success and exposure has you donning the red tinted glasses, drinking the Kool-Aid and is consuming you and your bleeding Cardinal heart so much that you can’t think straight, here ya go:

“We’re on a collision course with the national championship. The only variable is time…”
              Howard Schnellenberger

A few months after this glorious prognostication, said coach made another impression on the writer of this article by trading hats with the then 10-year-old at his weekly radio show at W.W. Cousins on Breckenridge Lane. He left as much of a mark on that young fan as he did the University of Louisville’s football relevance and trajectory, so said fan grew up and felt that it was imperative to catch up with the legendary leader in south Florida and ask a few questions about this year’s magical ride.

The author, then 10 years old, gets an autograph from Schnellenberger in 1985.
The author, then 10 years old, gets an autograph from Schnellenberger in 1985.

When asked Monday about how he feels knowing that UofL is on the cusp of realizing the ultimate, Coach told me, “I’m delighted that they have exploded on the scene the way they have and to have the team prepared for the introduction of Action Jackson.” (Yes, Coach has jumped on the sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson hype train and is officially calling him Action Jackson). He even went as far as to call him the “Commander in Chief for the next two years” and a championship is “inevitable.”

After coining the infamous “collision course” comment, did he really feel like that was possible for a team that almost dropped football and was playing in a minor league baseball stadium in front of freebie-ticket fans? Or was he just appealing to the fan base to generate some excitement and interest in the program?

“I was appealing to my God Almighty, the students, the faculty, the staff, the basketball fans, and to the whole world that Louisville had the capability.

“I was appealing to my God Almighty, the students, the faculty, the staff, the basketball fans, and to the whole world that Louisville had the capability, and when we got the stadium it had the opportunity to become reality; it was the fulfillment of what the University of Louisville was destined to be.”

Why he came to the University of Louisville

When the USFL deal didn’t materialize, what peaked his interest or curiosity about the University of Louisville? Was it just wanting to come home, or was there more?

“It was a combination of a whole bunch of things. The fact that it was my hometown, I played and coached football in Kentucky, played football and basketball for Flaget High School, used to play St. X, Trinity, Manual” and went on to mention his “pipeline to the pro’s from south Florida and saw that that could be important to the scene.”

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Louisville women skate past Clemson, win streak at 13

Briahanna Jackson gets her shot backc.
Briahanna Jackson gets her groove back.

Thirteen wins in a row for the University of Louisville women basketball team, none of them as easy as the 75-33 romp over Clemson witnessed by 8,379 at the KFC Yum! Center Thursday.

Briahanna Jackson was back to her old self, lots of smiles and high fives between baskets. She made three of four attempts from behind the three-point line, leading all scorers with 13 points. Three assists, two steals and five rebounds as well. When Jackson is happy, everybody’s happy.

That would certainly include Samantha Fuehting, a freshman making her third start at UofL. She was filling in for Myisha Hines-Allen who returned home this week for the funeral of a grandparent in New Jersey. Fuehring would score 12 points and pull down five rebounds in 29 minutes.

Asia Durr added 12 points, connecting on five of eight attempts, and Mariya Moore wound up with 10.

The eighth consecutive loss for Clemson, now 4-16, and hasn’t won a game since Dec. 26th. The Cardinals are 16-5 overall and 8-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

 

Louisville football gets Clemson, Florida State early

Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson

It’s going to take a while, if ever, for teams to figure out how to stop University of Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. A possible lucky break in getting Florida State and Clemson early on the 2016 football schedule.

Yeah, we know Deshaun Watson returns next season at Clemson. We also know he runs in slow motion compared to Jackson. That could be a problem for Clemson against a veteran Louisville defense next season.

Louisville will square off against Florida State at home in week three and travel to Clemson two weeks later.  Get off to a good start this time around and it could be a special season for the Cardinals.

“This another challenging schedule overall,” head coach Bobby Petrino said. “We have six teams who played in bowl games last season and three teams that finished the year ranked in the top 25. We have a lot of work to do before we start playing games, but with an experienced team returning, they understand the challenges ahead of them and know what kind of preparation is needed to be a successful football team.”

Houston is other nationally-ranked team on the 2016 schedule, on the road in the second-to-last game.

UofL will also play Duke, NC State, Wake Forest, Kentucky and Charlotte at home. The road schedule also includes Syracuse, Marshall, Virginia, and Boston College.

The 2016 football schedule:
Date Opponent Location Time
Thursday, Sept. 1 Charlotte PJCS TBA
Friday, Sept. 9 at Syracuse Syracuse TBA
Saturday, Sept. 17 Florida State PJCS TBA
Saturday, Sept. 24 at Marshall Huntington, WV TBA
Saturday, Oct. 1 at Clemson Clemson, SC TBA
Friday, Oct. 14 Duke PJCS TBA
Saturday, Oct. 22 NC State PJCS TBA
Saturday, Oct. 29 at Virginia Charlottesville, VA TBA
Saturday, Nov. 5 at Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA TBA
Saturday, Nov. 12 Wake Forest PJCS TBA
Saturday, Nov. 19 at Houston Houston TBA
Saturday, Nov. 26 Kentucky PJCS TBA
Saturday, Dec. 3 ACC Title Game Charlotte, NC TBA

Looking ahead for Louisville football at Clemson

Give it up for Alabama, the national champion in college football for the fourth time in seven years. The Southeastern Conference has claimed the honor five times, with Auburn claiming the prize in 2012.

One of the best national championship games in recent memory. Clemson amassing great respect for the Atlantic Coast Conference, positioned to claim the title until an onside kick in the fourth quarter transferred momentum over to Alabama, the 45-40 winner.

Clemson's Memorial Stadium awaits Louisville football team in 2016.
Clemson’s Memorial Stadium awaits Louisville football team in 2016.

Clemson, returning as many as 17 starters on offense and defense, will more than likely enter 2016 as the No. 1 team in the pre-season polls. Quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was a candidate for player honors this season, will be a prohibitive favorite to win Heisman Trophy honors.

Yes that Clemson, the team that only managed to beat a young University of Louisville team by 20-17 in the second game of the season at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Continue reading “Looking ahead for Louisville football at Clemson”