Kelly Dickey savors journey following UofL’s rout of Florida State

Like many University of Louisville football fans who have been following the Cards since the days of Coach Howard Schnellenberger or earlier, I appreciate the team’s successes not only because of the current gratification that a record-breaking win brings but also because of the journey I have seen the program take.

Kelly Dickey's take on the FSU mile marker.
Kelly Dickey’s take on the FSU mile marker. Fans can follow Kelly at @RealCardGame on Twitter.

As I observed the latest step in that journey – the Cards’ first win over a top-2 ranked team – I wanted to take in every moment and savor it as long as possible.  Being an out-of-town UofL fan, I couldn’t wait to get to Louisville and be there for what seemed in some ways like the football equivalent of Derby Week.

I flew to Louisville two days before Saturday’s game against Florida State, watching NFL Thursday Night Football on my phone during the flight.  The New York Jets were playing the Buffalo Bills, but more importantly the game featured six former UofL players.  As a UofL fan I took pride in Preston Brown leading all tacklers; Eric Wood, John Miller and Calvin Pryor joining Brown as starters for their teams; and Bilal Powell and Lorenzo Mauldin playing in reserve roles.  If not for injury, Breno Giacomini would also have been starting.  Most of these players ended up traveling to Louisville not long after me, spending a rare weekend off to support their Cards.

One long party for UofL football fans on GameDay.
One long party for UofL football fans on GameDay. (Cindy Rice Shelton photo.)

On Friday my daughter and I went to see the ESPN College GameDay set outside the Howard Schnellenberger football complex at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.  With the circus environment that GameDay and the increased media presence in Louisville were creating around the stadium and practice facility I wondered how much of a distraction it might be to the team.  Then I peeked through the gate and caught a glimpse of the Cards going through their Friday walkthrough.  The stadium seemed to provide a sanctuary from the noise, allowing the team to prepare in the business-like manner that Coach Bobby Petrino demands.

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Kelly Dickey: UofL’s Lamar Jackson setting football records at sizzling pace

Editor’s Note: We are pleased to welcome Kelly Dickey as a guest contributor. He’s the go-to source  on UofL records and statistics for many local fans. including numerous media sources. Kelly is also known as CardGame on Louisville.scout.com and @RealCardGame on Twitter. 

When the University of Louisville football team opened the 1998 season in a new stadium with a new coaching staff, Cards’ fans were hoping for a rejuvenated offense to bring excitement back to the program.  Offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino and quarterback Chris Redman were key in that season’s offensive explosion that left its marks on the UofL record book.

Lamar Jackson has only just begun.
Lamar Jackson has only just begun.

Many of those records remained unchallenged for 16 years.  Then Lamar Jackson came along.  Two of Redman’s single-game records have already fallen and some of his single-season and career records may be next.

Jackson ended an inconsistent freshman season in 2015 by leading the Cards to a 21-point comeback victory over Kentucky and a Music City Bowl win over Texas A&M in which he became the third player in bowl history to pass and run for 200 yards each.

Over the summer Jackson admitted to not knowing the Louisville playbook last season.  All indications are that he knows a lot more of the plays now.  Jackson has accounted for 13 touchdowns – 7 passing and 6 rushing – in six quarters of action this season.  Jackson has more total touchdowns than 115 FBS teams.  Only seven teams not named Louisville have more touchdowns than he does.

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Kelly Dickey, man in demand for answers about UofL sports

Kelly Dickey was driven to become a University of Louisville fan in Lexington.

Up until a chilly day in Lexington in 1979, Kelly Dickey hadn’t paid much attention to sports or state rivalries. The sixth-grader simply needed a jacket for school, inheriting a hand-me-down from an older brother. That red windbreaker would wind up making a permanent connection for him with a certain athletic program.

“When I got to school, I noticed I was getting all these snarky comments about Louisville the city, Louisville the basketball team,” he recalls, noting the jacket had Louisville emblazoned on the back.

“They would ask me about ‘Loserville’ and ‘Blackbirds’. I thought to myself, ‘What’s going on, why all this hatred for Louisville?’ I became a UofL fan out of a civic pride for the city, having lived there a few years earlier.”

The youngster would start clipping UofL box scores from the newspaper and begin making spreadsheets in a spiral notebook shortly thereafter. He would be rewarded by his favorite team with the program’s first NCAA championship a few months later. “I was ecstatic,” he recalls. “The UK fans didn’t talk much after that.”

Not only would Kelly Dickey become a staunch UofL supporter but he would become one of the most knowledgeable people on the athletic program in the fan base. He is considered by many fans to be the last word, the go-to guy for factual information about Louisville football and basketball, from major events to the minuscule and the obscure.

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