Louisville Card File: Florida International

I’m going to start by mentioning the lack of focus displayed last night by the Cardinals.

The lackluster, let’s face it, mediocre performance they came with to escape with a 7 point W over a 1-3 Sun Belt team.

But I do so with a mea culpa.

My gang watched the affair at my place since I’m the only one with enough computer savvy — and the attendant patch gizmos — to connect my computer to a big screen. So much extraneous babble was going on during the game at this venue that I watched most of it on my computer in my office. Once I yelled out, “FOCUS!”

To little avail.

But a bonding time was had by all. At least, most. And, the Cards survived to keep their record intact for another week.

* * * * *

Checking out the stats, which sometime reveal the reasons for an L or W and often don’t, I must ask:

How did U of L win this game?

Mario Cristibal’s Golden Panthers matched the Cards almost exactly in rushing yards, 128 to 129. They outgained Louisville in the air by 4 yards, 198-194. And did it much more efficiently. There were 19 completions apiece, but FIU needed only 26 attempts — 10 less than the visitors. Plus, Teddy B, having his worst game of the season, was picked twice, his 1st two interceptions of the season.

The Cards were better on 3d and 4th downs, converting 9/15 vs. 5/12. Maybe that explains the final score. ???

* * * * *

There were enough miscues on both sides for a season.

On FIU’s last drive of the game, the one where they pulled within 7 points, they faced a 1st and 25 at Louisville’s 47. This was after a 23 yard E.J. Hilliard scamper on 1st down drove the ball to the Cardinals’ 9.

But the Golden Panthers were guilty of holding. Scratch the gain and make it 1st & 20. Then 1st & 25 after a delay of game.

At which point, Vance Bedford’s not as good as we figured it would be D should have put the hammer down.

Which, I guess you could say, they did . . . illegally. Hilliard, the mature beyond his years real freshman QB who was Teddy B’s replacement at Northwestern H.S. after Bridgewater matriculated to Louisville, completed a 16 yarder to Wayne Times. Then was bashed to the ground after the play. The stupid roughing the passer penalty cost U of L 15 yards.

For another, FIU first down. The GP’s went from 1st and 25 to 1st and 10 in the red zone . . . on one play.

They scored a few plays later on what was to be their last drive of the game. Fortuitously.

On the next possession, starting with 4:53 to play, Louisville should have tightened up and finished the deal from the get go. Smack mouth, clock eating in your face football. But . .  . a first down incompletion — I liked the play even though it did stop the clock — was followed by a 1 yard gain by Senorise Perry. Another incompletion meant U of L, facing 4th and 9 at its own 26, had to punt it away after running less than a minute off the clock.

At this point, Cardinal faithful should thank T.J. Lowder for making the play of the game. His roughing up of punter Ryan Johnson was even more stupid than the previous roughing of Hilliard.

First down U of L. Thankful for the reprieve, the red & black ran the ball out as it should have in the first place. And, after gaining the 1st down that made it impossible for FIU to get the ball back, Louisville, wisely unlike last week, took a couple knees for the W.

* * * * *

Again the Cards D only had a single sack and but a couple of tackles for loss. Bridgewater was not sacked.

* * * * *

Starting QB Jake Medlock went down with an injury, resulting eventually in the insertion of freshman Hilliard, who went 9/10 in the air for 82 yards and a TD strike.

Am I the only one who thought of that fateful game against West Virginia? You know, the one when Louisville knocked out the Mountaineers seasoned but run of the mill starting QB while leading the game? Then WVa inserted the then unheralded and unheard of freshman Pat White, who kickstarted his boffo college career by leading the Mountaineers from behind to victory?

Didn’t think so.

* * * * *

Obviously I am pleased that Louisville stands 4-0. But must admit it’s been less than impressive against not very good — not very good at all — opposition. Louisville’s four vanquished foes stand 5-12 on the year.

That said, I’m willing to give the Cards a pass for last night. I was way worried before the game about the Homie Factor. Too many key Cardinals were playing in front of family, friends and posse, against old rivals and pals. Bridgewater, the most visible of U of L’s Floridians, was obviously pressing to impress. I trust the same of others.

And, it did make a difference that coaches were all on the sideline because of the headset malfunctions. (Though that worked both ways.)

* * * * *

I’m a little disappointed that I don’t have more salient observations of last night’s W. But, like I said, I fell prey to environment, schmoozing too much and making too many trips for more chipotle chicken pasta salad while the game was being played.

I’ll be working on those gaffes this week.

* * * * *

So, we move on from a win over the Golden Panthers to the Golden Eagles.

Goodbye Miami. Hello Hattiesburg.

Southern Miss was manhandled by resurgent Western Kentucky last night, and is 0-3 on the year. But this coming weekend’s foe has always been a vexation for Louisville. Southern Miss leads all-time, 18-10-1. The last time U of L visited Hattiesburg, the Cards came back from a 3-17 deficit to send the game to double OT, which they won when the GE’s missed a field goal that would have tied the game.

– Seedy K

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