Kragthorpe Sets Sights For Louisville Football

University of Louisville fans want coach Steve Kragthorpe to be confident about the upcoming football season, want him to turn things around, get on the winning track. Right?Brochure

That’s debatable, especially among those who threw in the towel halfway through the 2008 season. Those fans still hanging in,  hoping for the best, might be a little encouraged by the Kragthorpe’s optimistic tone in a solicitation for the 2009 Kickoff Luncheon, August 13th:

“We are ready to set our sights on a Big East title and a trip to postseason play. We have a solid crew of veterans and a good nucleus that is poised to put the Cardinals in the thick of the Big East race. Led by senior wide receiver Scott Long and locals Doug Beaumont and Victor Anderson, the offense promises to be one to watch in 2009. Second team All Big East linebacker Jon Dempsey, defensive tackle L. T. Walker and safety Richard Raglin lead a hard-hitting and attacking-style defense that is primed to get after the opposition … Everyone associated with the football program looks forward to a promising 2009 campaign … “

One might expect the coach to be little more reserved, even if it is a brief paragraph in  a brochure. But, hey, it’s Kragthorpe’s team, and he apparently wants to build expectations for the faithful, as opposed to none for those lacking patience.

Assist To Kragthorpe

By Charlie Springer

Football coaches lead a rough life, especially when the won-lost record doesn’t meet expectations. The three new assistants being added to Steve Kragthorpe’s University of Louisville staff are fully aware of the challenges facing the program. They’ve been around football and fans their entire lives.

The new coaches are Larry Slade, former defensive assistant at Tennessee, Brent Guy, former head coach at Utah State, and Jay Johnson, a former offensive coordinator at Southern Mississippi. larry_slade

Slade, an assistant to Phil Fulmer for 10 years, was in charge of the defensive  backs. This past season the Tennessee defense ranked fourth in the country in pass defense and tied for third nationally in total defense, allowing an average of 18 points per game. Before Tennessee, Slade spent five seasons at Texas A&M from 1994-98. His 1997 unit allowed a nation’s best three passing touchdowns.

“Larry is one of the most-respected defensive back coaches in the nation,” said Kragthorpe. “I worked with Larry at Texas A&M and he is one of the best I’ve ever been around.”

GBrent_Guyuy joins the Cardinals after spending four seasons as head coach at Utah State.  Guy went to Utah State from Arizona State where he was the defensive coordinator for four years. “Brent has a proven track record playing great defense wherever he has coached,” said Kragthorpe. “He had great success at Arizona State as a defensive coordinator and can add a lot of expertise to that side of the football.”

Johnson spent last season as an administrative assistant with UofL after spending five years at Southern Mississippi where, under his guidance, the Jay_Johnson Golden Eagles established a school record for total offense in 2007 with 5,066. “I’ve known Jay for a long time and he has an excellent offensive mind,” said Kragthorpe. “His teams at Southern Miss where very successful and explosive.”

Joining a program coming off two consecutive disappointing seasons requires confidence in the head coach and in your own abilities

Welcome to the University of Louisville, guys. We’re all in this together.

One More Test Of Louisville Football Loyalty

Before anyone else gets the urge to call, the observer doesn’t want or need any more tickets to the Louisville-West Virginia football game. Season ticket holder here for 40 years. Two tickets are all we need, but thanks.

People giving up tickets is not good. Twice today, individuals have offered them. Gonna be too cold, they say, adding something to the effect that the Cards will get creamed. The encouraging part is they said they want the tickets to be used and will offer them to someone else. That would be a positive thing.

The Louisville football team could very well “get creamed” on Saturday. But even more embarrassing would be an excess of empty seats belonging to people claiming to be ardent UofL fans. The ultimate test of loyalty is a game in which the Cards are sure underdogs, with a coach under fire, with a losing season looming for the first time in over a decade, and with temperatures in the low forties.

People who will show up for game under these conditions are the diehards. Their affinity for the university extends beyond personalities, temporary setbacks, and controversy. A game actually provides relief from the arguments about who did what, for whom, why, who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s smart, who’s dumb and what will happen during the off season. They are more than diehards, they are the foundation, the people you know you can count on whatever the future holds for Louisville football.

They are well aware that this team has nothing to lose. Nothing to lose, unless you count the 22 seniors who will be playing in their final Louisville football game at home. The Cards have compiled a 32-15 record during their time here, including an Orange Bowl win and a Gator Bowl appearance. And, yes, they know the young men will be playing their hearts out for them.

Plus, it’s the last college football game in Louisville for another 10 months. Basketball can help fill the sports vacuum but it’s not football. Plenty of reasons to put those football tickets to good use.

Victor Anderson: Ready Or Not?

Injuries to key personnel on the University of Louisville football team’s defensive side of the line have been well documented. Unless we missed it, however, there has not been convincing assurance from the coaching staff that Victor Anderson will be ready to go full speed against West Virginia.

The seemingly indestructible Anderson went down with a shoulder injury late in the Cincinnati game and never returned. Normally, no news would be good news. But over the past two seasons, UofL fans have been conditioned to expect the worst. Without Anderson around, the offense will struggle more than it has up to this point.

Anderson is Louisville’s most reliable offensive threat. Lately he had even been returning kickoffs, replacing Trent Guy, whose playing time has been reduced to a handful of plays.

One would hope that no news is good news. Just once would be encouraging.

Where is Walter Peacock when we need him?

* * *

Clueless Blackout – Still mystified as to why Saturday’s game has been designated as a “Black Out” game, as are at least two other Card fanatics Frankpos at Hell In The Hall and Mike Rutherford over at Card Chronicle.

As Frankpos puts it:

“I’d like to know the PR genius who came up with this gem. Calling for a Black-Out game against West Virginia is so wrong in so many ways. But the worst is that it vividly draws a comparison between one of the greatest moments in Louisville football history…and where we stand now.

“Asking/ordering pissed off fans to do this is one of the most asinine things I have seen during the Kragthorpe era…and lord knows, there have been some mighty PR blunders during his two-year reign.”

Rutherford is a little kinder, but not much:

“I have no idea when this decision was made, but I’m assuming it was at some point within the last seven days. That’s not nearly enough time for this to have any chance of looking respectable … The vast majority of the fan base is already all sorts of pissed off and far more likely to be annoyed by this type of request than in seasons’ past.”

The big question in this observer’s mind is who handles public relations for the football team. Does anyone? There’s a huge difference between a sports information director and a public relations person. Don’t see PR listed anywhere on the organization chart.

Don’t look now but it’s snowing. Mother Nature apparently doesn’t agree either.