Not a bad idea, having the Louisville-Kentucky game be the third game of the season, especially this one with U of L relying so heavily on freshmen and sophomores. So many new faces, so little experience.

Provides a little extra time for a coach to prepare a team he didn’t consider very good a few days ago. A team he said was lacking leadership and confidence. Thinking too much or not enough, not comprehending blocking schemes, missing tackles, not shutting down running or passing, allowing big plays, embarrassing themselves and their fans.

Charlie Strong, a man of few words, needed the extra time to get through to them. They should be more than prepared when the game is the season opener next year at Papa John’s.

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With only six snaps on his college resume, few people knew what to expect of freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as he jogged on the field to replace an injured Will Stein. He had appeared uncertain and lost, with half of those snaps resulting in minus yardage as well as an interception.

Bridgewater had matured significantly by his third game, embracing the thrust into the spotlight, knowing his chance would come sooner or later, and he was ready. Displaying some much-needed confidence at the spot, along with the ability to see the field, surprising the doubters with precise passing. Just ask Scott Radcliff who is still cursing himself somewhere even now.

*     *     *

The offensive line, which had taken so much physical and emotional abuse in the first two games, would play with some new found energy and confidence, showing early signs on jelling, against a vastly more experienced and highly motivated UK defense.

They were aided by the addition of Dominique Brown to the running corps, making the most of any holes in the line, creating his own when they didn’t exist. Providing some relief from the all-too-often frustrating efforts of Victor Anderson and Jeremy Wright.

Brown would accumulate 92 yards, one better than Wright and Anderson combined, bringing back visions of former big backs Eric Shelton, Frank Moreau and Carwell Gardner.

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Roy Philon, a 275-pound sophomore defensive tackle from Bryan Station, would make his return to Lexington a memorable one, creating Elvis Dumerville-like nightmares for the UK quarterback. Philon was only credited with 1.5 sacks but as an intimidation quotient was off the chars.

Greg Scruggs, the nice kid from Cincinnati, is getting badder in his defensive end role, employing his added muscle and weight to chalk up two more sacks.

Even more impressive, however, was the work of corner back Adrian Bushell who joined the team a few weeks before the season started. He would also keep prospective receivers covered up, out of sight, negating the home run passes, while also making eight solo tackles and two assists.

*     *     *

DeVante Parker, third touchdown reception in three games. Throw a few more the freshman’s way.

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So nice not to have to worry about the UK taunts after four long seasons. We’ll have plenty to say about that. Savor the moment. We’ve paid our dues.

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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.