Louisville Card File: Rutgers

We’ll get to the player of the game in a moment.

Need I say his name? Uh, I didn’t think so.

But I want to start with James Burgess, Calvin Pryor and Official Statistician, Piscataway SubStation.

At 9:13 of the 1st Quarter, Rutgers scored on its first offensive play of the game. An 85 yard TD pass from Gary Nova to Brandon Coleman. While most of the Cardinal defenders contributed to the breakdown, the main villain was normally stalwart Calvin Pryor. He had Coleman in his grasp, seemingly wrapped up not much beyond the scrimmage line. But he didn’t close the deal. So we watched Coleman scamper down the sideline as the stadium erupted.

At 8:58 of the second quarter, Rutgers scored on a 2d & 8. A 68 yard TD pass from Gary Nova to Mark Harrison. While most of the Cardinal defenders contributed to the breakdown, the main villain was frosh LB James Burgess. He had Harrison in his grasp, seemingly wrapped up not much beyond the scrimmage line. But he didn’t close the deal. So we watched Harrison scamper down the sideline as the stadium again erupted.

Of course, after such a glorious conclusion to the whole affair, I’m not going to leave Pryor and Burgess out on the plank.

Because that duo persevered, as did a truly game Louisville Cardinal football team.

Calvin Pryor ended up the Cards’ leading tackler with 7.

James Burgess ended up with 4 tackles, including one for a loss. And a key interception — a really key interception — which gave U of L the ball to drive for the winning score.

Which brings me to Stat Man. The play of the game — no, it wasn’t by you know who, the guy I’ll get to in a minute — was the fumble forcing hit in the final seconds of the 3d Q on the kickoff after Louisville’s first TD. It looked to me that #19 jarred the ball loose with what my jayvee coach would have called a “good lick.” That would have been Terell Floyd.

C-J beat reporter C.L. Brown saw the same thing.

Yet Stat Man reported officially that #13 caused the fumble. That would be James Burgess.

I stand by what I saw. But it is of no matter. Floyd had his shining moment, so clear that even Stat Man got it right. Which was that diving pick that sealed the game with 1:06 to play.

Which is to say that, miscues be damned, Pryor and Burgess made the plays when it mattered. So too, Floyd.

Given that all’s well that ends well, Stat Man also gets a pass too.

* * * * *

Teddy Bridgewater.

I repeat: Teddy Bridgewater.

Not only is he the BEST QB ever to wear a Cardinal uni. (I know, I know, Johnny U. I don’t wanna hear about it. He was never as good as a Cardinal as Teddy B.) But TB’s also the main answer to this pertinent, if peripheral, question: Why won’t Charlie Strong jump to Auburn? Or Tennessee? Or Arkansas?

20/28. 263 yards. His interception actually should have been caught by the wideout. And two TDs, each stunning in its own way. The shuffle pass to Jeremy Wright for the first score actually came after TB scrambled a bit on that gimpy ankle. The 20 yard rainbow to Devante Parker was arced through double coverage.

Football players play hurt all the time. It’s the nature of the game, the character of those who play it with passion. Bridgewater did what football players are wont to do. He played hurt. Really hurt. With a broken wrist. And an ankle that should have been elevated this Thursday night atop a pile of pillows on an ottoman.

Leaders lead.

* * * * *

Will Stein also gets a game ball. Had he played the entire game as QB, you know, I know and he knows Rutgers would have prevailed. But he did his job, making some key 1st downs.

Brilliant effort.

* * * * *

John Wallace’s two big FGs, including the clutch game winner with 1:41 to play, were huge. He was but a smidge short on his 47 yard attempt.

* * * * *

Underscoring how astounding this W is, I present this stat. Louisville rushed the ball 41 times. For 42 yards. The Cards won when Rutgers knew they had to pass to advance the ball.

Louisville shouldn’t have thrown long as much as it did. Given TB’s condition and the nature of the game, it was obvious that a West Coast O philosophy was in order.

Witness U of L’s first TD drive. 90 yards. 7:20. Which included completions of 8, 5, 13, 7 and 14 to Wright for the score. Yes, there were also connections for 26 yards and 19 yards, but those were available because of the dinks and dumps. U of L netted 3 yards rushing on the drive. Two of those were a Stein scramble for a 1st.

* * * * *

U of L converted 8/19 Third Downs. 1/2 on 4th. Rutgers was 3/11 and 0/1. Rutgers started 0 plays in the Red Zone. Louisville had 4 Red Zone opportunities, resulting in 2 TDs and 2 FGs.

Possession time was decidedly lopsided in L’s favor: 42.11 > 17:49.

Other than those two long TD plays, the Cards dominated.

* * * * *

It was far from a perfect effort. Still some odd play calling. Still no running game. Still some missed tackles and assignments. U of L allowed Rutgers to score on its opening drive for the first time this season. The Scarlet Knights had exceeded their season average of tackles for loss midway through the 2d Quarter.

But . . . Big Plays . . . Big Stops . . . Big Completions . . . Big Receptions . . . Big Heart.

Big W. Strong W.

One of the biggest in school history.

* * * * *

The Cards should — operative word: should — be BCS bound.

Remember, it is not a sure thing until Sunday night. Strange things happen with the flawed BCS. Any system in which Kent State — a 33 point loser to UK — might sneak into a spot is cockamamie by definition.

– Seedy K

2 Comments

  1. dennis
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    As an eyewitness to this game, WAS THERE, this is some mighty fine reporting by Seedy K!

  2. cbcard
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I almost wore out my TiVo replaying the forced fumble. You are quite correct and stat man dropped the ball like a Rutgers wideout.

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