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Posted in ACC, Basketball, College Football, College Sports, ESPN, Heisman Race, Journalism, Lamar Jackson, Louisville Cardinals, NCAA Football, Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, University of Louisville

Louisville football offers a welcome distraction

By Beau Kilpatrick—

Lamar Jackson and company gave Louisville fans a much-needed distraction from the federal basketball investigation. The No. 17 Louisville Cardinals demolished the Murray State Racers in 55-10 win Saturday afternoon.

This game, along with last week’s win over Kent State, is considered a “tune-up” game for the Cards. These non-conference games usually appear at the beginning of a season in an effort to boost moral of the players and to get them back into game-mode. However, this year they appear near mid-season. U of L’s schedule will become much more difficult beginning on Thursday when they travel to challenge the No. 24 NC State Wolfpack.

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Lamar Jackson did what he does best, and that is, to be a beast! He collected 349 total yards, 100 on the ground and 249 through the air. Jackson rushed for one touchdown and threw for three. And that was just in one half of football. He was operating with the precision of a skilled surgeon.

 

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Jawon Pass. Photo courtesy of Michael Reeves

Jawon “Puma” Pass started the second half at quarterback for the Cards. Louisville had such a commanding lead at the half, coach Petrino decided to protect his Heisman winner, Jackson, and give the freshman some experience.

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Jawon Pass rushes for a TD

Jawon fumbled his first snap of the half and it was returned for a touchdown by Murray State. But Pass would regain his composure and finish the half with 151 yards and two touchdowns. Jawon “Puma” Pass is the future for the Louisville football program and he will command the team after Lamar Jackson leaves for the NFL, which will most likely be after this season.

With Jaylen Smith out with a hand injury, fans saw some unfamiliar names in the receiving corp. Jackson’s primary target is Smith; however, freshman Dez Fitzpatrick is quickly gaining the trust of No. 8. Fitzpatrick has been a scoring machine this year and grabbed two more scores against the Racers. But it was another freshman, Corey Reed, who shined on Saturday with four catches for 94 yards.

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Louisville’s running game has been a primary focus of concern for the Cards. Other than Jackson, U of L runningbacks have struggled carrying the rock. So, coach Petrino tried out some different options during the “tune-up” game. Seven different backs carried the ball, but it was sophomore Trey Smith that stood out. He rushed 11 times for 67 yards and came into the game with only a minute and a half remaining in the third quarter. That is pretty impressive for only a quarter of play.

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The game was a blowout but it allowed Louisville to experiment with some young players who are battling for playing time. I think the experiment was a success because we have identified some new weapons that Lamar Jackson can use on the field.

No. 17 Louisville Cardinals will challenge No. 24 NC State on the road Thursday night. The game will be broadcasted Thursday at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

At halftime, the University of Louisville basketball team was brought onto the field. The fans at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium showed their love and support for these athletes by giving them a huge standing ovation with deafening cheers. It is important for these basketball players to know that the fans, the university, and the city have their back.

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David Padgett was also announced as the new head coach and the fans cheered him as well. However, coach Padgett remained in a suite at the stadium and waved to the cheering fans through the glass. He said that it’s not about him, which is why he did not join the team on the field. He wanted the team to realize that the love and support was solely for them to relish.

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 11.54.10 AMThe game was great. It showed the solidarity that fans have towards this university and gave us a welcoming distraction from the NCAA and FBI investigations. As a member of the U of L community, I can say that we always support our athletes and this university, especially when we need it the most. We are U of L.

As always, GO CARDS!! #L1C4

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Posted in ACC, Basketball, College Sports, ESPN, Journalism, KFC YUM! Center, Louisville Cardinals, University of Louisville

The end of an era: Pitino and Jurich fired

By Beau Kilpatrick—

University of Louisville basketball head coach Rick Pitino was fired Wednesday around noon, and Athletic Director Tom Jurich has been “relieved of his duties,” according to WLKY news.

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Rick Pitino (left) and Tom Jurich (right)
The University of Louisville basketball program has found itself in hot water once again. Yesterday (Tuesday, September 26, 2017) at noon, U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim announced details relating to an FBI investigation into a college basketball bribery scandal.

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U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim
The U.S. Justice Department has broken the findings into two tiers. The first tier consists of four schools having been identified in the formal complaint; Auburn, Oklahoma State, University of South California (USC), and Arizona. The assistant coaches associated with these schools have been suspended as the investigation continues to unfold.

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The second tier identifies the University of Louisville and two of its assistant coaches, ADIDAS, and five-star recruit Brian Bowen among others. James Gotto, in charge of global sports marketing with ADIDAS, is charged in the scheme. It is reported that Gotto funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to bribe three players into committing to ADIDAS sponsored schools, mainly, the University of Louisville. The second part is that these athletes would then sign with specific NBA agents after college that would sign the athletes to endorsement deals with ADIDAS.Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 11.56.01 AM

The Louisville basketball brand has been tarnished over the past few years. Fans and the university have suffered through a scandalous affair between Rick Pitino and Karen Sypher in 2003, a stripper and sex scandal from 2010-2014, and now this. The worse part is that the deals made by U of L assistant coaches were going on as the basketball team was receiving its punishment from the NCAA for the Katina Powell scandal. It is reported that undercover FBI agents were involved in the sting operation and planted audio/video recording devices in a Las Vegas hotel room when a meeting occurred in July between ADIDAS representatives and Louisville assistant coaches, where money was exchanged.

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 11.19.36 AMADIDAS and U of L have recently agreed to a new deal worth 160 million dollars and that is now in jeopardy. ADIDAS and Louisville may part ways after this incident, which would leave the endorsement door wide open for Nike, Under Armor, and Reebok.

The question is: What is to come of Louisville basketball? Honestly, I believe that the basketball program deserves the infamous “Death Penalty” from the NCAA. There have been too many violations in recent years for anybody to ignore. I think that the program deserves the two-season suspension and four-year probation once reinstated. The entire coaching staff should be released of their duty, including the legendary Rick Pitino and even Athletic Director Tom Jurich. After a hypothetical “Death Penalty,” I think that U of L should hire a promising up-and-coming coach to rebuild the program from the ground up. We need it. We deserve it.

 

Unfortunately, it’s the players that will once again be penalized for actions of the basketball administration. Two years ago we had Damien Lee and Trey Lewis who become the face of sacrifice for the university as they were told that the team was banned from post-season play. They paid the price for the players and coaches that came before them.

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Damion Lee (left) and Trey Lewis (right)
This year’s team will undoubtedly face similar consequences for the actions of the administration. Players like Quentin Snider and Ray Spalding were born and raised in Louisville. They went to Ballard and Trinity High School. They attended Rick Pitino’s youth basketball camps. They bleed red; always have, and always will. But, they will be the ones that suffer the consequences. Their future careers as professional basketball players are on the line and this new scandal could unfortunately damage their draft stock. Other players like V.J. King, Deng Adel, and Anas Mahmoud have embraced Louisville as their home and now they may be considering transferring to another university, where they will have to sit out a year (per NCAA rules) just in hopes of finishing out their college careers and trying to get into the NBA.

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Louisville natives: Quentin Snider (left) and Ray Spalding (right)
Once again, it’s our students, our athletes, our fans, our athletics program, our reputation, and our university that will take the brunt force of the penalties enforced due to the selfish incompetence of a few.

As always, GO CARDS!! #L1C4

Posted in ACC, College Football, College Sports, ESPN, GameDay, Heisman Race, Journalism, Lamar Jackson, Louisville Cardinals, NCAA Football, Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, University of Louisville

No. 3 Clemson blacks out No. 14 Louisville 47-21

By Beau Kilpatrick—

It was the first home game of the season for the Louisville Cardinals. It was a battle between the defending national champions and the reigning Heisman trophy winner. ESPN College Game Day broadcasted from in front of U of L’s law school. This was also the program’s annual “Black Out” game.

No. 14 Louisville lost to its nemesis No. 3 Clemson 47-21.

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Lamar Jackson has been the talk of the country once again as he sat atop the Las Vegas leader board for a possible repeat in winning another Heisman trophy—a feat that has only been accomplished once and that was over forty years ago.

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Jackson had a pretty good game against the dominant defense of Clemson. He had 381 total yards, three touchdowns, and he threw his first interception of the season. By the standards set for most quarterbacks, he had a pretty good game. But he’s not like most quarterbacks and we have grown accustomed to the electricity that Lamar brings to the field. That same electricity did not show up to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on Saturday night.

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The offense looked flat. Jackson completed 21/42 passes, but a lot of those balls were catchable. The receivers were just dropping them. Mix that with some off the mark route running, and a young offensive line trying to block the bestial Tigers, and you could just tell that it was going to be a long night for the Cardinals.

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Many fans were hoping to see the ball get carried by Malik Williams because he looked very impressive last week against UNC. That was not the case. Although, he did jump over a Clemson defender. Williams rushed for a measly 35 yards and Reggie Bonnafon managed only 17 yards. Jackson was Louisville’s leading rusher with 64 yards.

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Clemson’s defense held the Cardinals in check for most of the night. So if Lamar Jackson is on the sideline that means our defense is on the field, and they were on the field for a very long time. The Louisville defense held their own against the Tigers through the first half, but because the offense struggled to move the ball, they were gassed by the fourth quarter. All-American Jaire Alexander missed the game due to a minor knee injury (no word yet on his return) so the secondary relied on backups to fill in a few spots. However, the secondary got burned a few times without its All-American and others not on the field.

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Luckily for the Cardinals, losing to Clemson isn’t that big of a deal in the larger scheme of things in college football. The rest of their schedule looks like winnable games—at least on paper—and, as of now, they can still contend for the ACC Atlantic division. Louisville has played against three Power-5 teams in a row, which is more than most other teams can say. Now, they will have a few easy weeks before returning to ACC play.

Next, Louisville will host Kent State (1-2) Saturday, September 23, at 12 p.m. Broadcast details have not been released to date, but I will update when the information comes available. Following the Kent State game, Louisville will host Murray State (1-2) on September 30 at 3:30 p.m.

 

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Louisville has now lost to Clemson four years in a row, every year since joining the ACC. This has become the Cardinals’ nemesis and I hope that we can exact our revenge on the Tigers soon.

As always: GO CARDS!! #L1C4

Posted in ACC, College Football, College Football Playoffs, College Sports, ESPN, GameDay, Heisman Race, Journalism, Lamar Jackson, Louisville Cardinals, NCAA Football, Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, University of Louisville

The No. 14 Cardinals are flying high with Lamar Jackson

By Beau Kilpatrick—

The football gods are smiling down upon the No. 14 Louisville Cardinals once again. The Cards recently travelled to North Carolina on Saturday and defeated UNC in their ACC opener 47-35.

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 10.57.18 AMESPN College Game Day announced that their next broadcast would be at the University of Louisville this Saturday as the Cards host ACC nemesis, and reigning national champion, the No. 3 Clemson Tigers. To compliment the gracious presence of Game Day, the game itself has been moved back to 8 p.m. for a primetime showdown. Louisville hosted the prestigious football show last year for their monstrous win over the Florida State Seminoles. I think ESPN is finally aware of how we handle football here in the ‘Ville. Also, to add some extra excitement, the university announced that this would be their annual “Black-Out” game.

Lamar Jackson has reclaimed his lead in the 2017 Heisman race (somehow America forgot about the incredible season the reigning Heisman winner had in 2016). The game at UNC was no different. The Cardinal quarterback passed for 393 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for an additional 132 yards with three more scores. “Action” Jackson accumulated a total of 525 yards and six touchdowns against the Tar Heels. These are truly incredible stats that fans may not see from another player in quite a while.

Jackson has already gained over 1,000 yards of offense and has earned eight touchdowns in the first two games of the season. If his average remains on this trajectory, he may be able to surpass the records he set last year.

More of Jackson’s stats: http://www.foxsports.com/college-football/lamar-jackson-player-stats

The stats alone do not tell the story. Just watching him in action will leave you amazed at how he can perform the way he does. He is the most electric player in college football. Just when UNC thought they had him wrapped up for a sack, he somehow escaped and threw a 75-yard laser to Jaylen Smith over the middle for a touchdown. On another play, he sat in the pocket for a few seconds, hoping a receiver would get open, and when they didn’t, he ran straight up the middle. He somehow squeezed between two linemen (where there wasn’t even a hole to run through) and somehow broke loose for a 43-yard rushing touchdown. The ironic thing is that the sportscasters were talking about how UNC shouldn’t get comfortable because of the electric explosiveness of Jackson.

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Lamar Jackson (8) and Jaylen Smith (9)
His favorite target, thus far, has been Jaylen Smith. Smith has recorded back-to-back games with over 100 yards. He gathered 183 yards and a touchdown Saturday. Freshman receiver Dez Fitzpatrick was virtually unknown until last week when he was targeted for 95 yards and a TD. This week, Fitzpatrick received 78 yards and a pair of scores. This explosive freshman appears to be a star in the making with Jackson under center.

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Another positive takeaway from Saturday’s game was the breakout performance in the running game from a name that doesn’t end with Jackson. Junior college transfer Malik Williams finally made a name for himself in impressive fashion. After Brandon Radcliffe went to the NFL, fans were curious as to who might step up in the backfield. Williams recorded 149 yards against UNC and looked like he may have secured his role in alleviating the rushing load that has been placed upon Jackson. Running back Jeremy Smith has been listed as injured and will not return this season.

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Malik Williams
More on the game against UNC: http://www.espn.com/college-football/boxscore?gameId=400937456

The big news this week though is the matchup against No. 3 Clemson. Louisville has yet to beat Clemson in the three years it has been in the ACC. Last year was a heartbreaker for the Cardinals with a little bit of scandal on the side. The (then No. 3) Cards were six points behind (then No. 5) Clemson when they fell three yards short. There was controversy over the first-down marker, and per NCAA regulations, it was not where it should have been for the receiver to know how far to go. But that’s over and the Cards have a chance to seek revenge at home against the No. 3 Tigers in 2017.

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The play that haunted Louisville: https://goo.gl/images/8mhgPx

Clemson lost a lot of players to the NFL after the 2016 season, including Deshaun Watson. So their offense is trying to rebuild around junior quarterback Kelly Bryant; who has a pretty good arm and can run better than Watson. However, Clemson’s defense is a beast. This is what U of L coach Bobby Petrino and his cohorts will be focusing on this week.

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Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and UL coach Bobby Petrino
Louisville has struggled with self-inflicted wounds, which appears to be carried over from last season. False starts and fumbles are the biggest issues that the Cardinals must correct if they want to take down coach Dabo Swinney and his Tigers.

All-American cornerback Jaire Alexander is still on a day-to-day status regarding a minor knee injury he suffered two weeks ago against Purdue.

Overall, this is going to be an epic showdown and hopefully, with College Game Day here, the Cardinals can stomp the Tigers like they did the Seminoles a year ago.

The game will be broadcasted in primetime on ABC at 8 p.m., Saturday, September 16.

As always: GO CARDS!! L1C4!!

Posted in ACC, College Football, College Sports, ESPN, Journalism, Lamar Jackson, Louisville Cardinals, NCAA Football, University of Louisville

No. 16 Louisville Dodges Purdue for the Opening Win

By Beau Kilpatrick—

It was a slow start for the No. 16 Louisville Cardinals, but a second half surge propelled them past the Purdue Boilermakers in a 35-28 win.

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The Cardinals continued where they left off a year ago, plagued with penalties and fumbles. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson led his team down the field and looked very commanding of the office.

But the first possession ended with a fumble during a handoff on the three-yard line. Running back Jeremy Smith fumbled the ball from the one-yard line and receiver Jaylen Smith fumbled the ball in the third quarter after making a 14-yard reception from Jackson. They committed three turnovers that all came from poor ball security.

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Zykiesis Cannon (24) exemplifies good tackling

Penalties were the Achilles heel to the Cardinals in 2016 and their opening game proved that they are still struggling against the yellow flags. Louisville was penalized 16 times for 110 yards. The Cards offensive line continued its trend of bonehead penalties by committing nine false starts and one penalty for an illegal snap. Many were hoping that Louisville would have taken care of this carelessness in the offseason. These penalties are self-inflicted and only make it harder for the team to win.

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Lamar Jackson was far from perfect in Saturday’s game, but still had a decent showing. He completed 30/46 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball 21 times for 107 yards. Jackson combined for 485 yards and two touchdowns. What’s ironic is that Louisville fans are spoiled and only call this a decent performance from the 2016 Heisman trophy winner.

Screen Shot 2017-09-04 at 2.23.03 PMLouisville native Reggie Bonnafon, along with Malik Williams, are occupying Louisville’s newly orchestrated backfield with Jeremy Smith coming in for short yardage situations. Bonnafon was the most efficient running back for the Cards, but only collected 33 yards on the ground with a wobbly touchdown in the third quarter.

Lamar Jackson targeted a plethora of receivers during the contest. Nine different receivers caught passes from Jackson. Jaylen Smith seems to be Jackson’s favorite target. He caught eight passes for 117 yards. Dez Fitzpatrick collected 95 yards and a score. The seven other receivers collected a total of 17 passes with Jordan Davis being the only other receiver to get a touchdown.

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Defensive All-American Jaire Alexander left the game with a terrifying injury to his knee. Luckily, Alexander received only a scare—as the injury could have been career ending. Coach Bobby Petrino said that he avoided a serious knee injury and his status will be reported on a day-to-day basis.

Speaking of the defense, Stacy Thomas took the lead for the Cardinals in the third quarter when he intercepted Purdue’s David Blough and returned the pick-off 61 yards for a touchdown. The Cardinals took the lead and would not give it back. TreSean Smith would intercept Blough on the following drive for back-to-back forced turnovers. Finally, Chucky Williams intercepted Purdue’s alternate quarterback, Elijah Sindelar, for the third pick of the night.

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Stacy Thomas with a 61-yard interception return for a touchdown

The defense was stellar for Bobby Petrino’s Cardinals and Lamar Jackson looked pretty good in the first game of the season. The offensive line still needs to correct the sloppy mistakes that they have been plagued with for the past year. Lastly, Louisville needs to develop their running attack. Lamar Jackson should not be the leading rusher for the Cards. Malik Williams, Jeremy Smith, and Reggie Bonnafon really need to pick up the load. However, this is only possible if Petrino calls designed running plays for the backfield.

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I think many people underestimated the Boilermakers. With a coach like Jeff Brohm, how could we have not given them enough credit? I think Purdue will have a decent season under the new leadership of Brohm.

As for the Cardinals, they will travel to North Carolina to face the Tar Heels before preparing to host the reigning national champs, the No. 5 Clemson Tigers. They got their first game nerves and jitters out of the way and escaped Indianapolis with a close win. They must do better to compete with the juggernauts of the ACC.

Louisville will travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Saturday to challenge the UNC Tar Heels for the opening of ACC play. The game will be aired on ESPN at noon.

As Always, GO CARDS! L1C4!