Cole Hikutini just wants Louisville football to dominate

Cole Hikutini was in for a surprise when he stepped off the airplane during his first recruiting visit to Louisville in January 4, 2015. “I was kind of shocked,” he recalled. “I didn’t know it snowed here or that it got so cold. I was wearing shorts, it was 4 degrees outside, and my bag was missing.”

Hikutini, who played in junior college at City College of San Francisco, would get over it quickly, committing a few days later to play football for Bobby Petrino at the University of Louisville.

Cole Hikutini quickly warmed up to Louisville during the recruiting process (Cindy Rice Shelton photo)>
Cole Hikutini quickly warmed up to Louisville during the recruiting process (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

“Immediate playing time was available and I liked the way Coach Petrino uses his tight ends,” he said.  “I am a receiving and blocking tight end. The more I can bring to the table the better.  I try to do everything I can to help us win.

He’s loving every minute of this season at UofL, embracing a goal of being the best team in the country. “Everyone is is on the same page,” he said. “We’re all clicking on offense and defense, firing on all cylinders right now.”

Hikutini has become one of quarterback Lamar Jackson’s favorite targets, catching 27 passes for 393 yards and touchdowns through the first seven games. In UofL’s 54-13 win over North Carolina State, he had 118 yards and a touchdown on six receptions.

Hikutini has taken a lot of ribbing for attempting a Lamar Jackson-type hurdle over an NC State defender on Saturday, almost landing on his head. “I was running hard and I thought he was going to go low,” he said. “Lot’s of ribbing, teammates making fun of me. But that’s okay.”

The San Francisco native says he has incredible respect for Jackson. “It’s ridiculous how accurate he is. He has improved so much in the last year,” he said. “Lamar is a great quarterback and a down-to-earth kid. He’s killing it right now.

He would like for UofL to get into the playoffs but knows there are a lot of variables. “We can’t really control other teams’ wins or losses. We have to go there, dominate and win every game from here on out. That’s all we can do.

“I love the football team, the dynamic we have in the locker room. There’s great chemistry. It’s so competitive, all we want to do is win. I love it here.”

After Dumervil-like performance, Drew Bailey earns ACC honor

Drew Bailey had a busy night. (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).
Drew Bailey had a busy night against Duke. (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Drew Bailey’s name was called early and often in the University of Louisville football team’s 24-14 win over Duke on Friday.

Every other defensive play it seemed.

A year ago, he was playing behind Sheldon Rankins, watching him closely. “I just watched and listened to Sheldon,” he said. “He taught me to take my time learning how to play the run and play the blocks.”

Rankins, who was drafted as the No. 12 pick in the 2015 NFL draft, is on the injured reserve list of the New Orleans Saints. He would be pleased with Bailey’s progress.

On Monday, Bailey was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Lineman of the Week after his career-best performance against Duke.

Bailey, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound junior, made 11 tackles in the game, the most tackles by a U of L defensive lineman since Elvis Dumervil had 11 in 2005 versus Kentucky.

Bailey had three tackles for loss and seven solo tackles as Louisville held the Blue Devils to 110 rushing yards and 239 total yards. He is in his second season after transferring from Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Miss.

Lamar Jackson gets a Heisman web site

screenshot-2016-10-17-10-54-25The University of Louisville has created a web site for Heisman Trophy candidate Lamar Jackson, making it easier for scribes and fans to keep up with his record-breaking statistics.

Check it out at

Through his first six games, the UofL quarterback has 1,806 passing yards and 832 rushing yards. He has accumulated 30 touchdowns, including 15 passing and 15 rushing for the seventh-ranked Cardinals.

He is, in fact, the first player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to pass for 15 touchdowns and to rush for 15 touchdowns.

And he’s only just begun.

Duke slows game down, denying UofL style points

Too much talk all week long about that 35-point spread, and from people who should know better. Just a matter of how much and how long Lamar Jackson would stay in the game.

Players hear that kind of talk from analysts and fans, they absorb it, believe it, don’t put in as much effort in practice.  Come game time they’ve already chalked the game up as a win, easing up on the intensity, lacking respect for the opponent.

Friday night crowd of 55,121 hung around until to the end.
Friday night crowd of 55,121 hung around until to the end.

The ambivalence probably cost the Cardinals in terms of respect in front of a national TV audience on ESPN. No style points whatsoever in the speculation race for one of the four playoff spots at season’s end.

The game was still on the line at the two minute mark in the fourth quarter with the University of Louisville clinging to a 17-14 lead, with visions of a possible collapse hanging over the crowd of 55,121 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Had Duke not committed a roughing-the-kicker penalty following an ugly Evan O’Hara 46-yard field goal attempt, the outcome could have much different, especially given the way the Blue Devils were moving the ball. The penalty gave Louisville the ball on the Duke 14 and Lamar Jackson would scored a two-yard touchdown two plays later to give UofL a 24-14 win.

Employing a brilliant ball control game, Duke had the ball for 37:12 minutes, almost double time of possession for UofL. As a result, Lamar Jackson almost had to make every play count. Not even close, probably remembered in this one for the passes he didn’t complete to wide open receivers.

Still he would put up some impressive numbers, connecting on 13 of 26 attempts for 181 yards, including a touchdown while rushing for 144 yards, and that game-clinching TD.

Jeremy Smith would give Louisville some breathing room for a while in the third quarter with his 80-yard touchdown. But Duke would reduce the deficit to three points in the fourth quarter, setting up the suspenseful final two minutes.

Another win but the luster is not quite as shiny as it was when the Las Vegas oddsmakers were sizing up Louisville’s prospects for the playoffs just a few days ago.

Mason King kicking another weapon for Louisville football

screenshot-2016-10-07-12-46-09Mason King’s punting skills haven’t been needed much this season but the University of Louisville kicker earned his scholarship in the game against Clemson.

The Louisville offense was struggling early on, failing to score in the first quarter for the first time this season. Between three false starts and four incomplete passes, the Cardinals unable to mount a serious threat in the first 15 minutes.

King, meanwhile, was keeping the Clemson offense at bay, with three punts averaging 50.6 yards per kick. His longest kick — a 60 yarder — completely reversed the field, moving the football from UofL’s 19 yard line to the Clemson 21. His next punt, a 52-yarder, moved the ball from UofL’s 17 to the Clemson 31.

For the game, King had five punts for 240 yards, or an average of 48 yards per kick. For the season, he punted 18 times for 738 yards or 41 per punt.

Louisville has not had that kind of punting power since the days of Klaus Wilmsmeyer who punted for Howard Schnellenberger from 1988 to 1991. He once booted a punt for 84 yards and completed three field goals in a 9-7 win over West Virginia at Morgantown in 1990.

King, who played high school football at St. Xavier, is only a freshman, with many more highlights to come.