Louisville Card File: West Virginia

Name Game. Before I get down to breaking down U of L’s stunning upset of the Mountaineers — such as it might be — I need to answer the question on every Cardinal fans’ lips.

Just who in the hell is Milan Puskar, for whom West Virginia’s football stadium is named?

Turns out he was a businessman, who headed a pharmaceutical company that specialized in manufacturing generic drugs. A philanthropist of some note, he was obviously a beloved citizen of Morgantown, as well as a big booster of the school. After he gave $20 million donation, they stuck his name on the stadium. (Not T. Boone Pickens, but not bad.)

I’d love to now regale you with some bizarre facts about the whole thing, but there are none. So, for what it’s worth, that’s the rest of the story.

Interstate Restroom Alert. Okay, one more meaningless aside.

Some friends and I were at that 9-7 Schnellenberger Era upset a score of years ago.

I remember two things from the experience.

1) Klaus Wilmsmeyer’s punt launched from Huntington that landed deep in Mountaineer territory, pinning them back and helping seal the Cards’ three field goal victory.

2) The eerie experience in an interstate rest stop restroom after the game. The notoriously irascible West Virginia fan base was in no mood for chit chat. You could hear a pin drop. Our group — a peaceful quartet — kept our mouths shut, stared at the ground, did our business and got out of Dodge. Through the years, my friend David has embellished the story until yesterday, when he said “I thought we were going to be killed.” (To which I advised, after Louisville’s final score, that if David left right then, he might be able to make it that rest area in time to relive the experience. He demurred.)

Again, not an especially scintillating anecdote, but I’m trying to give you something here you won’t find elsewhere.

“You can’t run that play.” How many times did I repeat that mantra yesterday when the Cards would run that off tackle slant that was being stuffed time and again? Correct answer: More times than I can count.

While the Cardinals’ O line play is improving by the week, it still has a long way to go. I don’t understand why there are no other options to that set? Pull it and pitch for an end around? Pull it and lateral for a reverse? Fake the hand off and zip it across the middle on a two step drop? Anything.

All that ranting aside, there was this reality. When the Cards made that huge 1st down on 4th & 2 on the last drive, a play that might have turned the season around (yes, more than the field goal block), it was that off tackle call. Which was used again on that final, clinching TD.

Which shows how little I know.

Bust it, Dominique, bust it. Is it my imagination or does Louisville’s “leading” rusher hesitate to hit the hole, and stop running when he’s about to get tackled? Almost as if he’s submitting to the defense.

That observation — salient or not — aside, Brown made three of the game’s biggest plays. It was Brown, who got the ball on that 4th down call, and spun in the backfield, kept his balance, and fought for the first down that kept the winning TD drive alive. It was Brown, who carried the pigskin into the end zone on you-know-what-play, when the line opened a great portal.

And it was Brown, who leapt to snare that onside kick in the final minute that sealed the upset.

Ready Teddy. In honor of Mr. Bridgewater, Louisville’s frosh phenom QB, who is improving exponentially by the week, this musical homage by the Architect of Rock & Roll. (Sorry, there’s no stunning visuals to this clip, the music will have to speak for itself.)

Teddy was ready, ready, ready to rock & roll yesterday. A glossy 21/ 27 passing for 246 yards. Presence under pressure. When it mattered — sorry, Geno — Bridgewater got ‘er done.

His poise and leadership on that all important 13 play, 66 yard 7:03 drive for the final, winning TD was sweet.

Eli’s Coming. Speaking of freshman who came up big — and there were far too many to name them all in this little blog — how about that other kid from Miami, U of L’s leading receiver on the day, Eli Rogers.

5 catches for 63 yards, and a TD.

Do we have time for another musical interlude? Of course we do. And don’t be expecting some Three Dog Night knockoff. To honor Mr. Rogers’ performance, we go to the source.

D by the Bushell. Adrian Bushell had 7 tackles and that great field goal block. Andrew Johnson had six tackles and that great TD on the field goal block. But I’m naming names today: Hakeem Smith (10 tackles), Mike Evans (9), Preston Brown (6), Calvin Pryor (6), Dexter Heyman (6), Roy Philon (5) and many more.

The Cards bent, giving up 533 yards, but to coin a phrase, didn’t break. Notwithstanding that last knife through hot butter foray by West Virginia to pull within 3 at the end, Louisville made big stops through the day that kept the team alive.

Standing Strong. Have I mentioned how much I love having Charlie Strong as coach of my football team?

So I have.

I loved, loved, loved how emotional he was on the sideline. Unlike a recent former coach who felt that stoicism might make him a legit coach. (It didn’t.)

To Vance Bedford and the rest of the staff: Good work, fellas.

Final Question. Are we havin’ fun yet?

– Seedy K

2 Comments

  1. fred
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Interesting you should mention that about Dominique Brown. There was one point, I think on a return, were he hesitated at an opening and I jumped out of my chair yelling, “Go,son. Go!.” Next shot of the sidelines was Charlie. You could read his lips: “Go! Go!” If watch the Richardson kid from ‘Bama, he doesn’t stop even if he gets knocked off his feet.

  2. doug
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Brown continues to learn how to run. He just doesn’t have the instincts of an experienced running back. Great athletic play on the onsides kick!
    I, too, was in Morgantown for that 9-7 game. I had forgotten about that punt. In that low scoring affair, it was a huge play as I recall.

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