Cardinal Football

DeVante Parker Listed At No. 19 On Mel Kiper’s Big Board

Photo: Pete Cautilli

Photo: Pete Cautilli

Louisville star receiver DeVante Parker returned in a major way last Saturday in Louisville’s 30-18 win over NC State. In his first game back since suffering a foot injury in August, Parker tied a career high with 9 receptions and 132 yards.

Prior to the injury, Parker was tabbed as one of the top NFL draft prospects at the receiver position. Although he was expected to fully recover, the Louisville native slightly dropped on the mock draft boards. Before returning, Parker wasn’t in Mel Kiper of ESPN’s top 25 prospects. This week he’s up to No. 19 on Kiper’s “Big Board.”

19. DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville Cardinals

Has great length, long arms, good hops, and a strong, chiseled, lean frame that will remind some of A.J. Green, and it all adds up to a guy with a huge catch radius. He’ll make plays down the field, and he’s good with the ball in his hands. He has played in really only one game so far this season due to a broken foot he suffered in August, but appears no worse for wear.

Kiper listes Parker as the third best receiver in the draft, behind Amari Cooper of Alabama and Jaelen Strong of Arizona State.

{ESPN Link}

Three Stats That Suggest Louisville Can Beat Florida State

Photo: 247 Sports

Photo: 247 Sports

Here are a few stats you probably wouldn’t think of first when predicting the outcome of this game, but may well have an impact on proceedings.

Running the Football & Controlling the Clock

Florida State’s rushing offense: 106th
Louisville’s rushing defense: 3rd

Louisville’s rushing offense: 92nd
Florida State’s rushing defense: 49th

Louisville’s rushing attack is only averaging 3.59 yards per carry, compared to Florida State’s 3.99, which still isn’t very impressive, but what Louisville has is time of possession. Louisville is 11th in the country in time of possession at over 33 minutes per game, where Florida State is around 76th. Good offenses tend to have lower time of possession stats, so that’s not a cut & dry win for the Cards, but what that means is that Bobby Petrino knows what he’s doing with running the clock; he keeps the ball out of Jameis Winston’s hands and keeps his defense fresh. While we may like to see a typical Bobby offense put up 40 on FSU, the more likely recipe for victory involves more game & clock management. While Louisville’s rushing attack hasn’t really met expectations this season, Florida State’s has been a significant weak link in their defense. Notre Dame, NC State, Syracuse & even The Citadel, have managed at least 4.35 yards per carry against the Seminoles. The biggest reason NC State was able to hang with the Seminoles is the fact they were able to run the ball. Against a common opponent (both at home) in NC State, FSU & Louisville achieved identical numbers: 5.03 yards per carry, 33 for 166. If the Cardinals can carry some momentum in the ground game from their breakout 5 yards/carry performance against NC State, that could go a long way toward opening up the FSU defense. And in the defensive area of the ground game? Florida State’s shining performance of the season was giving up just 40 yards on 39 carries to Wake Forest. Unfortunately for the ‘Noles, the Demon Deacons managed 61 fewer yards (-22) against Louisville.

Penalties

Louisville: 7.4 penalties/game, 53.0 yards/game
Florida State: 7.0 penalties/game, 53.3 yards/game

Those numbers don’t really put much separation between the 2 teams, so I would forgive you for thinking “How does this suggest an advantage for Louisville?”. What it suggests, to me, is that penalties, which have come at critical moments to disrupt offensive drives, may actually not be a disadvantage against Florida State. FSU commits an equal number of penalties per game, so we’re not going to be gifting them opportunities that they won’t likely gift right back. Additionally, Florida State’s penalty numbers increase when they play winning teams and when they play on the road. The home vs road disparity is interesting for both teams though. Louisville and Florida State have each been flagged 6.3 times per game at home, but over 8 times per game on the road. That would seem to account for the crowd’s impact on refereeing, though we’ll leave that discussion for another day. What this does suggest though, is that since the game is at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville statistically should commit fewer penalties than Florida State. That said, the only FBS team to be called for fewer than 7 penalties against Florida State this season was Clemson. And (conspiracy theory alert) it remains to be seen whether the ‘Noles title campaign may affect games against “lesser opponents”; so far though, those numbers hold true because unranked opponents go against the ‘Noles as ranked opponents have. All things considered though, the splits may balance each other out and the averages could hold true which would mean penalties come out to a wash between the two teams. In the end, that means one less advantage for the #2 team in the country.

Home Turf

We didn’t have turf the last time they came here ranked in the top 5, and we still won, but stats would suggest this may be another factor that leans toward aiding the home team. In 7 games, Florida State has turned the ball over 13 times; 4 of those have been on turf, 2 interceptions and 2 fumbles. In fact, dating back through 2008, the Seminoles have yet to play a game on turf (9 games) and not turn the ball over at least once. Unfortunately that’s as far back as we can go on cfbstats.com, so we’ll have to leave it there. What we can tell from that though is that the turf monster seems to enjoy biting FSU. In the 2 games played on turf this season, the Seminoles have given up 31 and 20 points respectively, to Oklahoma State & Syracuse which is spot on those team’s respective averages. Louisville is averaging 30.9 points per game, in case you were wondering, 34.8 at home.

There’s no doubt about it: Florida State is a better football team than Louisville. The rankings are not embellishing the gulf in talent level. This Louisville football team, particularly on defense, is full of talent, but Florida State is on another level having returned a significant chunk of a national title winning team, including a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback. FSU is undefeated, with difficult wins over ranked opponents, while Louisville is 6-2 having beaten themselves more than lost to Virginia & Clemson. A lot of things have to go right for Louisville to win this game, but what you may not have considered is the fact that the odds of those things going right may not be as low as you thought.

If the clock management results in limiting possessions for FSU at the end of either half, if the penalties even things out and result in a drive stalled or turns a TD into a FG, if the turf monster can result in a key takeaway for the Cards either in putting points on the board for the home team or keeping points off the board for the road team… All of those things could add up to a 7-17 point swing, and that would be enough to make this game uncomfortably close for the Seminoles. But as the saying goes, “the game isn’t played on paper”. This one’s not being played on grass either though, nor is it in Tallahassee or a neutral site. This game is being played on turf, under the lights at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, where Louisville is 1-0 against the Seminoles. Is there any way we can get a monsoon, Mr. weather man?

Louisville Steakhouse Will Remove Crab Legs From The Menu While Jameis Winston Is In Town

Jameis Winston Crab Legs

We’re now just one week away from what could arguably be the biggest home game in the history of the Louisville Cardinal football program. For the first time ever, Louisville will host the defending national champions.

The Florida State Seminoles have won 23-straight games. Their last loss came in November of 2012 to the Florida Gators, who then lost to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl a month later. Needless to say, the Seminoles are on quite a streak and are due for a loss.

The city of Louisville hasn’t been this as excited for a home game since the No. 3 West Virginia Mountaineers came to town in 2006. With the game a week away, one local business is already taking a stand against the Florida State Seminoles.

On Wednesday evening, Louisville Steakhouse owner Jeff Ruby tweeted that his Derby City location would not be selling crab legs at their raw bar while Jameis Winston was in town.

Nice form, Mr. Ruby. I recommend all local eateries hold off on the crab legs until next Friday.

Offensive Lineman Aaron Epps Made The Most Of His Opportunity On Saturday

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There is still plenty of room for improvement, but Louisville’s offensive line took a huge step in the right direction against North Carolina State on Saturday. Will Gardner had good protection for the majority of the game and the offense was able to run for 166 yards. Not to mention, for the first time all season, the offensive line finished the game without a penalty.

North Carolina State’s poor defense obviously played a role in the Louisville offensive line performing well, but there was a lineup change that also made a difference. Redshirt junior tackle Aaron Epps got his first career start, replacing Ryan Mack.

“You know you always have to watch the video to really see how the offensive line played, but I was excited for Aaron,” Bobby Petrino said following Saturday’s game.

“He’s worked extremely hard. I think he did a good job when you look at the way we protected the quarterback for the most part, and we got our running game going better. He’s a guy that works extremely hard in practices. Always has a positive attitude, and it’s good to see him come in and have success.”

Epps spent the majority of his sophomore season in 2013 with the special teams unit. The Tucker, GA., native sat out during the 2012 season due to an injury and redshirted as a true freshman in 2011.

“My effort is always going to be high,” Epps told the media following his first career start. “As far as playing fast and assignment-wise I’m always at least at 90 percent. Usually, it is my technique that I’m working on now.”

There hasn’t been an updated depth chart released since Saturday’s win, but I imagine we’ll see Epps listed with the first team from here on out.

“It’s ultimately coach’s decision,” Epps said. “As of right now, it’s my spot to lose, that’s how I see it. My work ethic has always been hard since I got here. I feel like we’re (offensive line) going to be alright. We have some things that need to be fixed but overall I think we’re going to be just fine.”

Transcript From Bobby Petrino’s Appearance On The ACC Coaches Teleconference

J.D. Coffey - The Cardinal Connect

J.D. Coffey – The Cardinal Connect

Despite being on a bye-week, Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino still participated in this week’s ACC Coaches Teleconference. Here is a recap/transcript of his call.

Opening Statement

We’re excited to have a bye week. We played eight straight games including a Monday night game and a Friday night game. I’m proud of how our coaches and players grinded through it. We’re looking forward to the challenge with Florida state coming in next week. We’ll get back on the practice field this afternoon and have some fun getting ready for the game.

Offensive progress during NC State game

I thought we improved. We ran the ball. We did a good job at running it not only early, but late when we needed it. Like I continue to say, we’re a work in progress, but we’re making improvements.

Lornezo Mauldin & James Quick’s status

We’re encourage by where they’re at. All indications are that they’ll be ready for the game

Todd Grantham’s coaching style

I mean Todd does a great job at teaching and coaching on the field. Our players are doing a good job and understanding the philosophy and what our schemes are. In doing that we’re able to play fast and physical. Todd also does a good job at making sure our players understand what opponents are going to do against us.

Redzone Defense

We’ve been good on first down. We’ve been able to penetrate and get negative plays and hold people to field goals instead of touchdowns. It’s been a big factor in us going 6-2.

Benefits of playing on Thursday evening

I’ve always enjoyed them because you get a little time to prepare. You’re able to get a couple of days off. Our players can relax and rest. It’s good for us because we haven’t had any bye’s so they actually get to get away from the facility for a couple of days and get refreshed and ready to go. I’ve enjoyed playing them because I think recruits are watching. On Saturday they usually have their own things to do or watching their Friday night game. I’ve always thought it good was for your program.

DeVante Parker update

He had a big impact. Probably more than I imagined. He did a great job running after the catch, getting open and catching the ball in his hands. He was sore after the game. He hadn’t been hit in a long time. We’re really encouraged, the next day he felt better than he thought he would.

Overall health of the team

This has been a pretty good grind for us. We’ve had zero byes. It’s been a good grind. Our players have done a good job at handling it. Our medical staff has done a good job at getting them ready and prepared each week. But it is good to have a couple of days to get our bodies and minds fresh and ready for Thursday.

Working with Grantham for the first time

It’s really just getting together and getting to know each other. It’s been fun for me to watch Todd and the staff put the defense together. Todd is an expert at what we’re doing on defense and teaching it to the players. It’s been a lot of fun.

Maturity of his team

We’ve got a group of guys that really enjoy football. They like preparing for it. The thing I think that has really shown up on our team is the fourth quarter and how competitive we are. We’ve had to win some games in the fourth quarter and have been able to keep our poise and play extremely hard.

Playing Florida State

They’re a great football team. They’re very strong offensively, defensively, special teams. It’s exciting for us to prepare for a game like this. We’re going to have a good time getting ready for it and we’re exciting about them coming to our house to play.

Louisville & Notre Dame Extend Football Series

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

On Tuesday afternoon the Atlantic Coast Conference announced that the University of Louisville’s football series with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish had been extended with three more meetings between the two programs.

Below is the official release from UofL.

LOUISVILLE, Ky.- The Atlantic Coast Conference announced three additional football meetings between the University of Louisville and Notre Dame on Tuesday afternoon.

The Cardinals and Fighting Irish are scheduled to meet for the first time on Nov. 22, 2014, when the Cardinals travel to South Bend, Ind.

The league also announced that Louisville will host Notre Dame on Sept. 2, 2019, at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and the two schools will play at Notre Dame in 2020 and at Louisville in 2023. The dates will be announced at a later date.

The games are part of an agreement between the ACC and Notre Dame to play five ACC teams each year in football.

Notre Dame Football may not be quite as relevant as they once were, but they’re certainly not a slouch. Getting the chance it play in South Bend later this season will be a great opportunity for the program. Hosting the Irish in 2019 could set up to be one of the bigger home games in the history of the program.

It Took Longer Than Expected, But Michael Dyer Finally Had His Moment

Photo: Pete Cautilli

Photo: Pete Cautilli

I can only speak for myself, but I imagine I’m not the only one that was surprised that it took Michael Dyer more than a year and a half to put together his first 100+ rushing yard performance as a Louisville Cardinal.

When you’re a former BCS national title game MVP, expectations are high. Unfortunately for Dyer, things haven’t gone exactly as planned since he transferred to Louisville in August of 2013. The former Auburn star missed the final six games of the 2013 season with a groin injury and has been sidelined for the first three games of his senior campaign with a quad contusion.

In week five’s game against Wake Forest, Dyer put together a solid performance with a total of 41-yards on 14-carries. As soon as it appeared that Dyer was going to star receiving more carries, he simply disappeared. He had just eight yards against Syracuse and didn’t play at all against Clemson.

At that point it seemed as if fans were ready to just accept the fact that Dyer may never end up making a significant impact for the Louisville program.

We couldn’t have been more wrong.

During Saturday’s win over North Carolina State, Dyer basically came out of nowhere and put together the best performance of his Cardinal career. He finished with 173-yards on 24-carries one touchdown.

Since arriving on campus, Dyer’s status has always been somewhat of a mystery to the fans. He didn’t play in the final six games of the 2013 season, but Charlie Strong’s staff didn’t reveal that Dyer’s absence was injury related until the season was over. We all knew of his quad injury prior to the start of the 2014 season so when he returned only to disappear again, fans wondered if there was more to it.

When speaking to the media following Saturday’s win over NC State, Bobby Petrino made it pretty clear that Dyer’s issues have all been injury related.

“I think he’s really battled the injury, and he’s worked hard at it,” Petrino said. “It was frustrating for him; there’s no question about that. We tried to get him in there and get him some work in some of the games, but he just wasn’t himself. So to see him in practice this week, you know, and we’re watching video on Tuesday night; every coach goes, `That’s a little bit different, that’s a lot different.’ And he just kept working real hard, and it’s great to see him come out and have success when it took him a long time, really, to get back from it.”

It’s unfortunate that it took eight weeks for Dyer to get back to where he was during the start of fall camp, but better late than never.

Lorenzo Mauldin Reportedly Had An MRI On Sunday For Injury During NC State Game

Photo: Petey Cautilli

Photo: Petey Cautilli

During the third quarter of Saturday’s game against North Carolina State, Louisville senior linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin went down with what appeared to be a serious injury.

Mauldin was helped off of the field by the training staff. After evaluating his injury on the sidelines, Mauldin went with the trainers to the locker room and didn’t return.

Bobby Petrino was asked about Mauldin’s status following the game and didn’t have much of an update.

“Yeah, all I heard was he felt a hamstring and I didn’t get any other communication about it,” Petrino said in his post game press conference.

Mauldin told the media that he was scheduled to have an MRI on Sunday and that he initially thought the injury was serious.

“I felt my hamstring pop a little bit, but if they would’ve needed me I would’ve been fighting through it,” Mauldin said.

“I’ll have an RMI tomorrow (Sunday). Hopefully it’s not too serious. I’ve had some trouble with it over the past week, but I’ve been fighting through it in practice.”

Hopefully Mauldin’s injury isn’t serious at all, considering he’s one of the most valuable players on the team. The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time as Louisville will get a week off to prepare and get healthy for their match-up with the No. 2 ranked Florida State Seminoles.

“I think I speak for the time in saying that we need this break before Florida State,” Mauldin said on Saturady. “Florida State is a good team and we want to be 110-percent when it comes to them.”

Bobby Petrino didn’t have his usual weekly press conference on Monday, but he’s expected to speak during Wednesday’s ACC coaches teleconference. I imagine we’ll get an update then.

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