Cardinal Football

The Louisville Football Team Debuted Their Black Helmets During Today’s Practice

We’re just 12 days away from kicking off the 2013 Louisville football season, which means we’re also 12 days away from the return of the black uniforms. Petrino’s first tenure with the program is when we first saw the black uniforms. Steve Kragthorpe kept the black uni’s during his three years at Louisville, but once Charlie Strong took over, we never saw them again.

During the ACC Kickoff party in early July, Petrino confirmed that the season opening game against Miami would in fact be a “Blacc Out.” We’ve gotten plenty of glimpses of what the black jerseys and helmets look like over the past few weeks. It appears that the team actually started breaking in the black helmets during Wednesday’s practice.

Petrino Is Confident In His Team’s Ability To Rush The Passer

Photo: Andy Lyons - Getty

Photo: Andy Lyons – Getty

I can only speak for myself, but I’m not too concerned about Louisville’s offense in the season opener against Miami on Sept. 1. The Canes have a respectable defense, but with Bobby Petrino calling the plays, I don’t think scoring points will be a problem when you consider the weapons he has at the skill positions.

When it comes to the defensive side of the ball, I’m neither overly optimistic or overly concerned. I expect Louisville’s defense to play well, but there’s not the same type of confidence as the offense. Todd Grantham has proven that the 3-4 defense can work at the collegiate level and he has quite a few pieces back from the 2013 team, but we just haven’t seen it yet.

The Cards have 12 days to tighten things up on both sides of the ball, but Coach Petrino had some good things to say about the defense following Tuesday’s practice that should make you feel a little more confident. He loves what he’s seeing from the pass rush.

“Our number one defensive front can really rush the passer,” Petrino said on Tuesday.

“I think that’s going to be a luxury for us that we’re not going to have to bring blitzes to get after the quarterback we should be able to do it with a four-man rush.”

Senior Lorenzo Mauldin is prime for a monster season and should be the Cards top pass rusher in 2014. Lozo finished with 9.5 sacks in 2013 and will likely add to that number this season. Replacing guys like Marcus Smith and Preston Brown won’t be easy, but junior college transfer Trevon Young and senior BJ Dubose are two guys who are capable of stepping up.

Young has the speed and athleticism to make plays on defense. Dubose has always had the talent and it appears that he’s extremely focused heading into his senior campaign.

UofL Announces Opening Weekend Festivities

Pete Cautilli - The Cardinal Connect

Pete Cautilli – The Cardinal Connect

Bobby Petrino and the Louisville Cardinals will play arguably the biggest game on the 2014 schedule on Sept. 1 when they open up the season against Miami. Not only is this a very important game, it’s also the first ever ACC match-up for the football program. Needless to say, this is a big weekend, therefore the folks at UofL are planning to party.

UofL announced earlier in the week that they’ll have five days of festivies leading up to the season opener. Below is an excerpt from the press release. Click here to read the full release.

The activities begin on Wednesday, Aug. 27 with the Opening Weekend Kickoff Party at Captain’s Quarters at 7:30 p.m. The program will feature UofL head men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino, Vice-President/Director of Athletics Tom Jurich, numerous head coaches and student-athletes. Advance RSVP is required for the free event at GoCards.com/CQ.

On Aug. 28, the student body will be hosting a students-only BlACC Out Preview Party at the Student Recreation Center plaza with live bands, food trucks, t-shirts giveaway, and special appearances.

The 2014-15 athletic season kicks off officially when the field hockey team plays host to Saint Louis at Trager Stadium on Aug. 29 at 4 p.m. The opening of the Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Soccer Stadium will take place later that evening with a doubleheader, when the women’s soccer team hosts Mississippi at 6 p.m. and the men will face national-power Maryland at 8:30 p.m. Special pre-match recognitions, giant national anthem flag, and halftime fireworks are planned. Fans are encouraged to purchase general admission lawn tickets in advance at GoCards.com/tickets, from $5 to $9, and to arrive before 6 p.m.

On Aug. 31, Cards FunDay, a social event at Fourth Street Live!, will begin at 2:00 p.m. with viewing of the 2007 Orange Bowl game. The event includes appearances by the UofL cheerleaders, Ladybirds, former UofL football players, and Louie the Cardinal bird. A live band will take the stage around 4:30 p.m.

For the BlACC Out football game day, fans are encouraged to be on hand for the first CardMarch of the season when head coach Bobby Petrino and the Cardinals arrive at 5:45 p.m. for entrance into the stadium for the 2014 season opener. Co-branded Cardinal ACC eye black will be distributed to fans pre-game at the StreetFest alumni association tent and tailgating lots.

This 2014 Louisville Football Hype Video Is A Must Watch

Photo: The Cardinal Connect

Photo: The Cardinal Connect

We’re now less than two weeks away from kicking off the 2014 Louisville football season. These next twelve days will likely go by much slower than we’d all like, but this awesome hype video from our friend Mike Lindsay AKA CrumsRevenge of TheCrunchZone.com should help hold you over. As always, Mike has outdone himself. The video is narrated by Howard Schnellenberger and also features a special blackout mix. Enjoy!

2014 Football Hype Video: Respect All, Fear None from @CrumsRevenge on Vimeo.

Sports Illustrated’s Petrino-Grantham Report Is Only a Sign of Things to Come

Andy Lyons - Getty Images

Andy Lyons – Getty Images

One of the few benefits of the American Athletic Conference was peace and quiet. The Cardinals had a hard enough time getting any kind of media attention; they didn’t have to worry about negative spotlight. All they wanted was spotlight at all.

That’s all changed now.

With a bigger stage and a more controversial lead, this week marked the perfect example of the kind of attention Louisville football is sure to receive from now on.

On Monday, Sports Illustrated’s “Inside Read” column delivered material that hadn’t been printed in a piece on Bobby Petrino for the magazine’s annual college football preview.

This report, written by the often controversial Thayer Evans and Pete Thamel, had originally put a few around town on edge, worried that the pair had already uncovered something in Louisville’s second Petrino Tenure. However, the report was released last week and  had little to say about any trouble in Cardinal Land.

The online only post used unnamed “sources” (a common theme in both Evans’ and Thamel’s reports) and claimed that defensive coordinator Todd Grantham wasn’t getting along with Bobby Petrino.

The only named source was former Cardinal Jermaine Brooks, who left the team in April. As ESPN 680’s Andy Sweeney said best about Brooks: “[He] never played, and Chane Behanan was his boy. Tells you what you need to know. Irrelevant player.”

Why this portion was omitted from the final article that made the issue isn’t hard to see. You can’t imagine SI’s fact checkers letting through significant quotes from unnamed sources with the previous history of Evans and Thamel. The facts behind what was to be a”massive” investigation into Oklahoma State football from Evans didn’t check out. And our friends in Lexington have long known Thamel as a scallywag hoping to derail Cal’s success at Kentucky.

But on the countless sports blogs and news aggregators, journalistic ethics doesn’t matter as much. The baseless claims by Evans and Thamel can be passed along harmlessly; and hopefully spark up the click traffic. So the scraps of this piece that were left on the cutting room floor ended up being reused for this post meant to drum up interest.

Of course Grantham had already denied all of the allegations, and revealed that he wasn’t even asked about them by either Evans or Thamel. But the damage was already done. Pretty soon sites like The Big Lead, Rotoworld, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution were linking to a questionable anecdote, that didn’t even make final print. They’re only feeding the monster more.

After seeing The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre tweet about the report, I quickly tried correcting him but to no avail. McIntyre wasn’t going to respond, and why would he? As I mentioned in a tweet: most national sports media doesn’t care about the content of the story, they just share. Their job is to fish for clicks, and they get paid good money to do it.

Just Monday, Gawker revealed that SI rates writers based on how “beneficial” they are to advertisers, a formula that takes heavily into account “audience/traffic” and “social” impacts. This formula also was used in the layoff of several writers. All of this SI has of course denied vehemently.

We all knew that situations like this one were likely to be among the consequences of the Petrino hire. Combine his return with Louisville’s much lauded debut in the Atlantic Coast Conference and pretty soon you’ve got the recipe for a great story. It’s a premise that will drum up incredible interest very quickly for anyone that writes about it.

The Cardinal PR machine has tried to stay ahead of the game, with several efforts meant to paint Petrino in a positive light. While incredible access to the team for media and fans is a welcome change from the Strong administration, there is no question that UofL wants everyone to be cozy with Bobby.

This is precarious position for Tom Jurich and the rest of the athletic department. Louisville hasn’t seen a significant national media controversy since Rick Pitino’s off the court issues in 2009. And the shield of mid-level conferences has for the most part kept Louisville out of the national outlets.

But things have changed since then.

With the largesse of college athletics reaching a fever pitch, everyone wants to find a story that can expose a few people. So why not target a program that has exploded in growth in a very short period of time? Why not target Bobby Petrino, a coach that has left so many with a bad taste?

The fact of the matter is that Louisville is a target now. There isn’t much Tom Jurich can truly do about it either. With the national spotlight shining brighter on Cardinal Athletics, they will have to tread far more lightly.

Several bemoan the near-paranoia many Kentucky fans have about select media. Lexington has a most wanted list for journalists, a few writers who are believed to be in cahoots against John Calipari’s reign over Big Blue Nation. Many (including myself) have laughed this off as ridiculous whining.

However, the events surrounding this Sports Illustrated piece have served as a window into the world of tabloid sports journalism. And maybe…just maybe…it really exists.

From now on, Cardinal fans will have to get used to being the subject of more attention and more ire. It comes with the territory of being an ACC school and having Bobby Petrino as your football coach. There will be more stories like this one, hopefully all will have a similarly small impact. But reporters will be looking for the scoop that lands Bobby Petrino back in the dog house. People love a good redemption story, but a failed one can be just as satisfying.

No, Louisville football isn’t and won’t be as big a media target as Kentucky basketball. But it’s a target nonetheless, and being a target is something that will take getting used to.

Michael Dyer Listed As Day-to-Day With Minor Knee Injury

Photo:  The Cardinal Connect

Photo: The Cardinal Connect

One glaring take away from Tuesday’s Louisville football practice was the absence of senior running back Michael Dyer.

Bobby Petrino has raved about the former BCS national championship game MVP multiple times in the past two weeks.

Dyer looked great in Saturday’s open scrimmage, but went down with an injury and didn’t return. Petrino said following the game that they held Dyer out because he had some swelling in his knee.

Although the staff didn’t seem overly concern, a lot of folks were still a little worried about how serious the injury could be.

Despite not practicing with the team on Tuesday, Petrino still seems fairly optimistic about Dyer’s status.

“He wasn’t out there today. We haven’t got the swelling out yet so right now he’s day to day,”  Petrino said following Tuesday’s practice.

“We’ll know more as the week progresses and we get into next Monday. It was a helmet to the quad. So we have to get the swelling to come down. He’s much better today than he was yesterday. So he’s improving on a daily basis.”

Dyer will likely be the second string running back behind Dominique Brown, but regardless of where he is on the depth chart, all signs point to him being a huge part of the offense. As mentioned, prior to the injury, Petrino had been raving about how well Dyer had been performing in fall camp.

ESPN’s College Football Power Index Isn’t High On Louisville This Season

Photo: The Cardinal Connect

Photo: The Cardinal Connect

I can only speak for myself, but I wasn’t at all surprised that Louisville was left out of both preseason polls.

When you look at the talent returning from last year’s team that went 12-1, I think it’s fair to say that Louisville could compete with just about anyone in the country.

That said, I think the voters for both polls focus mainly on the fact that Louisville is heading into a new conference, replacing their head coach and lost three players to the first round of the NFL Draft.

It turns out that its’ not just the human voters who aren’t overly optimistic about the Louisville Cardinals this season.

On Monday evening, ESPN released their 2014 College Football Power Index. Louisville came in at No. 50.

The Football Power Index (FPI) is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. These ratings and projections are updated daily.

The FPI has Louisville’s projected win total at 6.7 and their projected loss total at 5.3. The Cardinals strength of schedule is ranked 55th in the country.

Although they’re outside of the top 25 in both polls, Louisville would be ranked No. 31 in the AP Poll and No. 36 in the Coaches Poll. Therefore seeing the Cards at No. 50 in the FPI is a little surprising. The FPI actually predicts that eight teams in the ACC will have a better season than Louisville.

It’ll be interesting to see how this system changes throughout the year.

ESPN 2014 College Football Power Index

Marijuana Charge Dismissed Against James Quick

Jamie Rhodes | USA TODAY Sports

Jamie Rhodes | USA TODAY Sports

According to WDRB.com, charges against Louisville sophomore wide receiver James Quick stemming from his marijuana related citation earlier this summer have been dismissed.

On May, 29 Quick was cited for possession of marijuana at his campus apartment. According to the University of Louisville citations obtained by The Courier Journal, officers found 39.5 grams of marijuana in Quick’s possession, along with a digital scale and a marijuana grinder, which led to Quick also being cited for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Per WDRB’s report, Quick has been participating in a marijuana education and intervention programs since being cited. UofL will continue to drug test Quick.

At the program’s media day earlier this month, Petrino stated that Quick has done everything asked of him since the incident. Quick really stood out during the final two open practices a couple of weeks ago.

With this now behind him, I’d expect a strong sophomore season for the Louisville native.