Playing or watching football in 95-degree temperatures is an ordeal, testing one’s affinity for a game meant to be played in fall weather. The worst conditions in the oven since the stadium opener in 1997, a day the football was as bad as the weather.

A total of 46,157 fans showed up for this season’s opening game, many arriving late because of early 6 p.m. start on a Thursday night and others abusing their tailgating privileges. Papa John’s looked pretty sparse 15 minutes before kickoff. Still it was the second largest attendance ever for a U of L home opener.

Most of them stuck around until the very end, despite the sluggish nature of the game. But that’s progress when you consider the vacating rates in fourth quarters a few years ago. We’ll take improvement where we can get it.

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As Charlie Strong said after Louisville’s 21-9 win over a decent Murray State, he knew going into the game that his team needed a lot of work, especially on offense. But that’s to be expected when there are zero returning starters.

  • A good, if unimpressive, start for Will Stein who completed 17 of 32 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Too bad about the fumble and some of the attempts to Josh Chichester, who will never make a basket catch. Likes them up high, like that one in the second quarter for 23 yards.
  •  DaVante Parker is as good as advertised, scoring a touchdown on his first college reception, a 39-yard pass which was strongly challenged by a Murray defender. Parker is the first true freshman to score a touchdown pass in his first game in 34 years. Remember how Doug Beaumont needed four seasons.
  • U of L is in good stead with Scott Ratliffe as lead punt returner, as surehanded at that position as we seen in years, and as a wide receiver. He want to run, returning one for 31 yards, and he wants to receive, converting three of them for 21 yards and a touchdown.
  • All the fretting about the cornerback position may be founded but Murray State was unable to take advantage, not living up to its reputaton. Meanwhile, Anthony Conner, a senior and juco transfer, was making his first interception at U of L.
  • Victor Anderson and Jeremy Wright gained 65 and 35 yards, respectively. Not that impressive against a Murray State. Give the offensive line a little time and that should improve. It better.

How about Chris Philpott booming four kickoffs into the end zone, with and against the wind, 70 yards each time. Equally impressive running the ball, 40 yards on two fake punts. Who knew he was that fast?

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

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