Quick programming note: Due to the extensive nature of the MLB playoffs, Louisville Sports Live got the bump this week and will be back on the ESPN 680 airwaves next week. However, we’re gonna head back to the basement and roll out a podcast later this afternoon / early evening. We don’t have any guests lined up (mostly because we just rolled out the idea of this podcast about ten minutes ago) but we still plan on talking about Rick Pitino’s possible contract extension, the upcoming red-white scrimmage and of course preview the Big East opener between Pitt and Louisville this Saturday. The podcast should be uploaded to the site sometime tonight or, at the very latest, first thing tomorrow morning. Since we can’t take calls, feel free to shoot us tweets about whatever is on your mind. Contrary to what you might think, we read em’ all. Unless they’re death threats. We just kind of skim through death threats.
Freshman Linebacker Keith Brown / 247 sports
When Louisville takes the field against Pitt on Saturday morning, they’ll try to snap a 4-game losing streak – their longest to any current opponent. The Cardinals will bring their #19 ranking into Heinz Field during homecoming weekend and the Panthers have found themselves with their backs squarely against the wall. After taking a surprising loss to Syracuse Friday night, Pitt stands 2-3 on the year and are fighting for their bowl-game life. Meanwhile Louisville looks to finally put a full game together and remain undefeated at 6-0. We”ll have our full opponent breakdown and preview tomorrow, but in the meantime let’s see what the local Pitt papers and national publications are saying about Saturday’s match-up
- Athlon Sports says that Louisville’s biggest weakness is their lack of a sustained pass rush, however, three of their 4 experts still pick the Cards to win the game.
- Nice piece here from The Pittsburgh Tribune on Teddy Bridgewater.
- Andrea Adelson of ESPN is tempted to pick the Panthers but stays with the Cards in the end, 27-20. She says her biggest concern is the lack of consistency from Louisville.
- Despite only rushing for 27 yards against Syracuse on Friday night, Pitt head coach Paul Chryst told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that he won’t abandon the run.
- Cardiac Hill gives us the top ten quotes from Pitt head coach Paul Chryst’s weekly press conference. They also wrote about how a decreased workload for star running back Ray Graham might be exactly what he needs to thrive.
- UofLsports.com says that the Cards’ offense is still looking for their identity.
- Here’s a football notebook from Panthers Digest that includes quotes and a look ahead to Louisville.
- Really good piece from Mike Rutherford of Card Chronicle on the misfortunes of Louisville and their Big East openers throughout the years.
- Pitt’s official school website gives you a full primer and breakdown of the game.
On Saturday morning at the early playing hour of 11:00 am, the Louisville Cardinals football team will take the field against the Pittsburgh Panthers hoping to do something they have not done since October 27, 2007: beat them. That was then-head coach Steve Kragthorpe’s very forgettable first year on the job where the team still had talents like Brian Brohm, Harry Douglas, and several others who were apart of the previous Orange Bowl winning team. Since then, the Cards have lost from 2008 through 2011 by scores of 41-7, 35-10, 20-3, and 21-14. Needless to say, Pitt has owned the Cards for nearly half of a decade, and no games aside from the most recent one have been close. This coming Saturday, the Cards will set out to end that losing streak, and while they will certainly be out for personal redemption after losing four straight, the team has plenty more incentive to make this a statement game.
For those that have failed to notice, the Cards have looked less than dominant the past few games. They had chances to be dominant against teams like Kentucky and North Carolina, but for whatever reason, the coaching staff chose to slam on the brakes all too early. The UK game left a bad taste in the fans’ mouths, and the strategy nearly (and honestly should have) cost the team the game against UNC. The two games following against mid-majors Florida International and Southern Miss, the Cards just squeaked by with wins. Bad weather was a factor in each, but the games were still too close for a team with BCS aspirations. Despite these performances, the Cards are still undefeated, ranked 16th and 18th in the Coach’s and AP polls, but are beginning to slide down the Big East power rankings and are definitely not considered a lock to be the Big East representative in a BCS Bowl. This weekend is the opportunity the Cards need to remind the football world that it is the class of the Big East by taking it to Pitt early and never letting up.
Pitt is a bit of a mystery this year. There has been the Pitt team that was embarrassed at home by FCS team Youngstown State (a 31-17 loss), blown out at Cincinnati 34-10 and most recently beat by the always abysmal Syracuse 14-13 at Syracuse. That is not the resume of a team anyone, especially the 5-0 Cardinals, should fear. Then there is the team that smacked an overrated, but still solid, Virginia Tech in the mouth 35-17. They are still going through the growing pains of a new head coach in Paul Chryst after former head coach Todd Graham spit in the team’s face when he announced to his players via mass text he was leaving for the oh-so-glorious job of Arizona State (really). They have the talent and have recruited consistently well for years, but just have not put it all together this year. The running back tandem of Rushel Shell and Ray Graham is one of the most dangerous in the country when properly utilized. The Cards defense has missed several tackles over the past few games and cannot afford to make those kind of fundamental mistakes against Graham and Shell or they will pay. QB Tino Sunseri has been a model of inconsistency and for the better part of his career has been flat out terrible. Yet, the one-time Louisville commit did come to Louisville last year and beat the Cards on their own turf (without Ray Graham, mind you). If the Cards do not come to play on the defensive side of the ball, an area where they have been less than stellar thus far, it could be a rough day.
The Cards were on bye week this past week, and it could not have come at a better time. It is unusual to hear so much pessimism and uncertainty surrounding a team that is undefeated and considered one of the best 20 teams in the country. Yet, the Cards have been less and less convincing each week this season, and with the continued progression of Big East challengers Rutgers and Cincinnati, the team badly needed a break to address some areas of concern. Charlie Strong, regarded as a defensive coach, and his defensive coordinator Vance Bedford have not put the defensive product on the field most were expecting. Sure, there have been some flashes. Safety Calvin Pryor has been a stud and leads the nation in fumble recoveries. Freshman linebacker Keith Brown impressed in the Southern Miss game. Others have stood out as well, but the unit has yet to put together a dominating performance as one, something they are certainly capable of doing. Pass coverage has been lacking, the 3rd down D needs improvement, and more pressure needs to be put on the opposing QB. All fixable problems. All things that were likely addressed this past week. The front seven will especially need to be at its best if it hopes to contain the two-headed rushing attack of Graham and Shell.
The offense has been less of a concern. Teddy Bridgewater was arguably playing as well as any QB in the country the first three games, including West Virginia’s Geno Smith. The two-headed running monster of Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright was looking phenomenal. The wide receivers were playing extremely well on all ends, and the offensive line, though it did struggle at times, has been productive. The last two games, however, given that they were played in bad conditions and then downright dangerous conditions and a lot of it can be excused, there was also a lot left to be desired. Still, though, Bridgewater needs to continue to play to the level of excellence we have seen, the O-Line needs to consistently protect and open up holes, and the receivers need to catch the ball. Speaking of receivers, Devante Parker appeared set for a huge game after his opening touchdown catch against Southern Miss, but one crucial drop and a monsoon later, he became quiet. He needs to be further utilized like he seemed to be in the beginning of that game. Bridgewater will hit receivers like Charles Gaines in stride almost every time on downfield seam routes, but throwing the ball up to Parker deep down the sideline seems too obvious of a play not to call. He is big, fast, athletic, and can outjump nearly anybody. Bridgewater can get him the ball, he just needs the opportunity. A lot of that will fall on Shawn Watson, too, the man who is calling the plays. His playcalling this year has been effective, but very plain and predictable at times. He needed the bye week to regroup just as much as his players did.
Of course, more than anything, the team needed the bye week to rehab from injuries. Several players seemed to experience some bumps and bruises the last several weeks, some (John Miller, Daniel Brown, James Burgess) worse than others. This was a good week for them to focus on getting healthy. Coach Strong hinted in his press conference that Dominique Brown could become available if anything happens to Jeremy Wright or Senorise Perry. Having Brown back and healthy would provide a major boost to the offense, but if Perry and Wright continue to produce, it would not be the worst thing in the world to redshirt him. If the team really wants to go all in, they could play Brown, but if it is only for a few games, why throw a year of eligibility away? It will be interesting to see if he dresses Saturday or not.
Strong admitted in his press conference, as reported by C.L. Brown of the Courier-Journal, that Pittsburgh’s smashmouth style of offense will be a much welcomed change from the no-huddle offenses they had been facing. The Cards of course, will need to be able to handle the no-huddle as well and is something the team will surely address, but it appears Strong is very confident in his team’s ability to handle Paul Chryst’s conventional offense. It will come down to whether the Cards can match the physicality of Pitt, and they do not have the luxury of coming in overconfident or lax in any way.
Louisville is 1-6 in Big East openers since joining the conference (h/t to Card Chronicle for that note), has lost four straight to Pitt, is playing at Pitt, and has looked all too beatable the last three games. Perhaps all those reasons combined is why the Cards are being projected around only a 3-point favorite by Vegas Insider. This is an opportunity for the Cards to really put their foot down on someone. They chose not to do so against Kentucky and North Carolina for whatever reason, and as far as national perception goes, they may need to do so this weekend to display their postseason worth. Rutgers and Cincinnati are not going anywhere and should only get better. The conference is not a lock for Louisville, and going undefeated certainly is not. Laying down in the second half could potentially affect the young players’ attitudes eventually as well, showing them to go hard for 2.5 quarters and then put it on cruise control the rest of the game. That cannot happen, and it likely is not the mindset of the team or coaching staff, but it certainly makes one worry. They need to put any and all of that to rest this weekend and just completely stomp Pitt. The Sugar Bowl will look a lot closer at a team that fights to the finish rather than a team that fights halfway through the third quarter and then coasts. It will also be a sweet pleasure to stick it to the school that allegedly held up the ESPN TV deal only to sneak away to the “clearly superior” ACC.
Counting the bye week, it will be have been a long 4 weeks in between home games for the Louisville football team. And with the Big East home opener against South Florida now officially set, we can all finally get out of this tailgate-withdrawal. UofL announced today that the game on October 20th will be carried on ABC (regional coverage) and will kickoff at 3:30. After a string of Noon starts over the past several seasons, it’s nice to be relevant once again and receive some decent time-slots. Furthermore, it’ll be nice not to have to watch the game on a computer screen or through an additional pay-cable provider. Louisville defeated South Florida the day after Thanksgiving in Tampa last year, 34-24, as Teddy Bridgewater went for 241 yards and 3 scores. DeVante Parker had 2 touchdown catches and Dominique Brown led the way on the ground with 69 yards and a touchdown.
I don’t know how accurate this 30-day weather forecasting system is, but they’re predicting around 68 degrees and sunny.
I’ll take it.
Coming off a bye week, Strong addressed some injuries, past and upcoming games, and the team in general.
On the schedule:
- With conference play starting, the team needs to act like it is a brand new season.
- The team need to make it a one game season; they cannot look down the road.
- In terms of future OOC games, Strong said that he really does not care who they play.
- Offensive lineman John Miller will be examined this week.
- Dominique Brown will be made available if something happens to Senorise Perry or Jeremy Wright.
- Running back is a very tough position when it comes to returning from an injury, especially a knee injury.
- Linebackers Daniel Brown and James Burgess are expected to be out against Pitt.
On the team in general:
- The team is 10-2 over the past twelve games, so they know how to prepare for and win games.
- The team’s motto is “stay humble and hungry”.
- The defense still has time to work out the kinks.
- Preston Brown and Hakeem Smith have been the leaders on defense.
On past games:
- Strong said that, during the game, he never once thought that they were going to lose to Southern Mississippi.
- Against FIU, Strong said that the fact that most of the players are from Florida may have had an effect on their performance.
On upcoming game against Pittsburgh:
- Strong said he likes the 11:00am kickoff. The teams just eats, does walkthroughs, and then plays.
- Strong said that though he has never played against Paul Chryst, he knows that he runs a well-disciplined team, and that the played very well against Virginia Tech.
It was announced today on the official team website that former Louisville wide receiver/return specialist has signed a contract with the Kentucky Xtreme of the Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL). He joins fiver other former Cards on the team in LB Stephen Garr, S Richard Raglin, DB Lenny Pitters, and S Jonathan Russell. This will be the Xtreme’s inaugural year in the league, and first game will be Sunday, February 17 at 4 pm at Freedom Hall. The team is clearly attempting to add on as much local talent as possible to attract fans, and WHAS’s Adam Lefkoe suggests five more former Louisville player signings will be announced in the next week. Here is the official press release.
LOUISVILLE—The Kentucky Xtreme of the Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL) has signed former University of Louisville wide receiver and kick returner Doug Beaumont to a contract.
Beaumont brings National Football League- and Arena Football League-caliber experience to the Xtreme. He signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent prior to the 2011 season. After playing in three preseason games and being released, he spent some time with the Spokane Shock of the AFL, where he joined his former U of L quarterback, Adam Froman.
“We are proud to be able to bring Doug back home to Louisville to continue his football career,” Xtreme owner and general manager Victor Cole said. “He is the consummate professional and he has intangibles that just can’t be taught. We expect him to have a big impact this season as we compete for a CIFL championship.”
During his standout career with the Louisville Cardinals, Beaumont had 141 receptions for 1,655 yards and one touchdown.
Beaumont was the state of Kentucky’s Mr. Football in 2006, playing at Louisville’s Male High School under legendary high school coach Bob Redman. During his high school career he amassed 5,954 rushing and receiving yards and 91 touchdowns, and was rated the 23rd-best wide receiver in the nation and a four-star prospect. He won the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Kentucky, as well as the Paul Hornung and Roy Kidd Awards. Beaumont was the overall vote-getter on the Courier-Journal All-State team. He ranks 12th all-time in the state of Kentucky for career points.
The Xtreme will be the third Kentucky team in the CIFL along with the Kentucky Drillers (based in Pikeville) and the Owensboro Rage. The other members of the 10-team league will be based out of Ohio, Illionois, and Michigan. Best of luck to Doug and anyone who wants another glimpse of the former Cards star should get on out to Freedom Hall at what should be a low price. Here’s to him getting in the endzone as much as humanly possible.
Charlie Strong address some injuries during his Monday presser this morning. Two injured players who stood out were linebackers Daniel Brown and James Burgess. Brown, an experienced starter, and Burgess, a true Freshman who was getting a lot of playing time, were both critical components of Louisville’s defense. Fortunately Charlie Strong has many options when it comes to replacements.
The name that rings most in fans’ heads is Freshman Keith Brown. Last week in Hattiesburg, when the game was on the line, Brown stepped up, finishing with nine tackles, including eight solo stops. Other players who could replace the injured linebackers are true Freshman Nick Dawson and Junior Deon Rogers. Dawson is a player who probably should be getting more playing time this season, but the death of one of his relatives really set him back this summer. Rogers, on the other hand, is somewhat undersized but has been with the program for quite a while and should understand Strong’ system. These three replacements should be capable of filling the roles of Brown and Burgess, and should not leave any holes in Louisville’s defense on Saturday.
Louisville head coach Charlie Strong discusses this weekend’s game against Pittsburgh and also talks about the start of Big East play.
Two weeks ago Louisville, Trinity stand-out James Quick told reporters that his hometown Cardinals were likely the team to beat for his services and that they currently sat atop his short list of schools. Fast-forward to this past Saturday and, after an official visit to Ohio State, it now appears that the Buckeyes have at least pulled even in his recruitment. Ohio State hosted Quick this past weekend and the Buckeyes laid a royal beat-down on fellow Big Ten foe, Nebraska, 63-38 in front of nearly 115,000 rabid fans. Quick told ESPN afterwards, “They have great fans. That’s what really caught my attention. The most impressive thing is how loud the fans got,” he said, adding it was the loudest game he has ever been to. Not what you want to hear if you’re a Louisville fan. He also was quoted by the Yard Barker Network as saying he “fell in love with Ohio State” during the visit. He then went on to tell recruiting analysts from Scout and 247 Sports that the Buckeyes had officially pulled even with the Cards and now were both tied for the lead in his recruitment.
Quick is perhaps the most coveted hometown recruit since Michael Bush, and has a rare combination of blistering speed and power in the open field. He’s ranked as a 5-star receiver by every major recruiting service. Through his first 7 games of this season, Quick, despite multiple double-team’s and zone coverages, has hauled in 34 receptions for 668 yards and 4 touchdowns. He’s averaging 133.6 total yards per game. When you watch him in person with your own two eyes, it’s easy to see why he’s one of the most sought-after recruits in the entire nation. We’ve heard rumblings that Quick is Louisville’s to lose as long as Charlie Strong remains the head coach. And while it certainly seems that will be the case, we’ve all been burned too many times in the past to ever think anything is a certainty. Furthermore, with a few of his teammates backing out of their commitments or choosing to go elsewhere (Ryan White and Jason Hatcher) and a strange recent trend in Louisville recruiting overall (where has it been? There’s been zero official visitors and things are strangely quiet), who knows what the future has in store.
One thing is for certain, Louisville now has some serious competition and they’ll need to turn up the heat if they intend on securing the commitment of another hometown hero.
Last week, word came out that there would likely be a 7th game added to the BCS mix, pitting the highest ranked conference champ from the Big East, Mountain West, C-USA, etc. versus a top team from the Big 12 or Pac-12. According to this article in the Dallas News however, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany wasn’t so sure that the game would be included in the elite BCS Bowl status.
Beginning in 2014, the national semifinals will rotate among six major bowls. But the Big East, Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt and Mid-American Conference aren’t part of the mix. In an attempt to get those conferences involved, there have been reports of creating a seventh bowl to include a top-rated champion from one of those conferences.
“We’re exploring that,” Delany said. “They’ll have to go out, put the game together, take it to the market place, find a bowl and sell it to TV. That’s very separate but we want to encourage them to do it, so there would be more access, maybe not inside the BCS but within a major bowl environment.”
It seems as though every other conference commissioner is behind the plan to add a 7th BCS game, so him saying this might not mean much. However, it is interesting that not all conference leaders appear to be on the same page.