The empty feeling for days leading up to the game, the restless night before, the interminable wait the day of, the rapid heart beat at kickoff: Symptoms of a fan fearful that his team would not be competitive, would not show significant improvement since game one, and would be humiliated by the hated.

All gone. Even though the University of Louisville football team wound up on the short end of a 31-27 score.

Although they would never admit it, even the most hardened pessimists among the fan base were reassessing their expectations. Louisville with a chance to win with the clock running down to zero.

Wasn’t supposed to be like that. The smug look on the Kentucky faithful transitioning to fear, doubt, misgivings. Sorry, neighbors, but Louisville is not going away any time soon. Put the blue flags back in the car trunks, where they belong, beneath the spare tire.

Not a moral victory, not falling prey to that one. But while the game ended with a flurry of profanities, the overall experience was encouraging. If this team plays like it did today, the season may not be so long after all.

  • If you’re grading on measurable improvement, give coach Steve Kragthorpe a few points in the plus column. Nice to be able to do that for a change.
  • Give Victor Anderson the ball on critical third-and-one downs. Bilal Powell is still running sideways too often.
  • Darius Ashley, repeating for the 15th time, was the leading running back in the state of Ohio . They play serious football.<
  • Unbelievable  improvement from kickers Corey Goettsche and Chris Philpott, especially Philpott. Maybe those high school stats were not misleading after all.
  • Justin Burke running left, throwing right, is not natural, nor effective most of the time. Nice to see a quarterback with some inclination to run when necessary.
  • Johnny Patrick was overdue in picking off an interception. More to come<
  • Cameron Graham returns respect to the tight end with a couple of the best hands available. After Scott Long, of course.

  • No injuries, not that we know of anyway. Fans are always the last to know.

There were, of course, a few costly mistakes but there were plenty by both teams (including UK’s clock keeper). Overall, however, it’s a good starting point. Continued improvement is the objective, overriding inspired play against an arch rival.

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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.

9 thoughts on “Louisville Football Exceeds Expectations”
  1. The Cards played inspired ball today on the road in front of 80,000 crazed arch rival fans. They exceeded everyone’s expectations by probably 20 pts.

    Justin Burke made a particular leap of progress in this game.

    However, it is important to note that UK is 1) not a very good team–average at best– and 2) they tried to give us the game in the 3rd qtr with all the turnovers.

    This would be the type of UK team that we would typically pound by 20-30 pts under Petrino

    There WAS some good play calling by Coach Kragthorpe–but his coaching hindered us in the many of the same key areas as always
    — Some of his play calling at key times(such as that 4th down option call to the weak side), the way timeouts were mis-used again, so we had 0 for the end drive, and general time management at key times of the game.

    We’ll suspend further judgment on K until after the next few games– there are some true testers in there.

  2. Kragthorpe gets no points, unless they’re negative ones. His playcalling was horrendous at times. HORRENDOUS. So proud of the players in this game, but their coach does not put them in positions to succeed.

  3. Where was Ashley? Where was Heyman? Why not run big Tronzo on 4th and 1? Why didn’t we have timeouts at the end? Why did Powell get so many carries at the end? Why isn’t there at least 1 jump ball to Chichester every time in the red zone? Why have we lost to UK 3 years in a row? How many real game losses in a row? Are we going to beat any FBS teams this year? Why is UK 4 games up now? Why is he still the coach?

  4. Change two special teams plays and Louisville wins. Yes they have to get better with the red-zone offense. Yes there were a few plays called that were suspect. But if you change those two special teams plays (kickoff for a td and the dropped punt) and we win.

    I’m willing to give Kragthorpe credit. His team was ready to play, his QB settled down and played within himself, and the defense was respectable.

    Coach K did not lose this game. Players have to make plays.

  5. Defense wins games. Managing time-outs wins games. Special Teams win games.

    Head coaches are ultimately responsible for the all of the above. 1.4 million worth.

    U of L did make a little progress today. At this rate we could be in a lower tier bowl in less than 3 more years. So we got that going for us.

  6. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better. I do feel like they can win some games. I am also a tiny bit ashamed to say I think UK wont win many. Is that so wrong?

  7. A couple of clunker play calls — do NOT run Bilal Powell to the short side of the field against a defense with any kind of speed. I agree with Burke — on the 4th-and-1, he should’ve audibled to a quarterback sneak.

    Hard to fault Trent Guy for the muff, but as a general rule, fielding a punt on the dead run has “disaster” written all over it. Still, he was trying to make a play and not let UK down the ball inside the 10.

    Offside on a kickoff ranks high on my list of inexcusable penalties. IMO, it led to the blown coverage on the rekick that let Locke score.

    Big Blue Nation needs to brace itself — if the Cats needed that much luck to escape U of L, what are Bama and Florida going to do to them?

    1. Cards had the lead, all they needed was possession, and first downs. Better field position was not necessary, only possession was necessary.

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