The Beak Football Breakdown: Cards vs. Owls

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After a bye-week our Cardinals are ready to get back into action and will travel to Philadelphia PA to play the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field. Unfortunately it will be another noon kick-off and the game can be seen on ESPN3. The Cardinals and the Owls have played six times in their history with the Owls winning the first three and our Cardinals taking the last three including a 45 to 17 victory last November in Louisville. This will be the first AAC game for Louisville and the second for Temple. They lost 22 to 13 to Houston a few weeks ago and are 0-4 to start the season.

Coach Strong Temple Press Conference:

The Owls have a young group with some starters who return from last season and are transitioning into a new style of play with new head coach Matt Rhule. Rhule was previously the assistant offensive line coach for the New York Giants. Prior to that, he spent six seasons as an assistant coach at Temple, serving as the offensive coordinator under former Owls head coach Al Golden from 2008 to 2010.

Leading Rhule’s pro-style offense is junior quarterback Connor Reilly. Reilly is a strong armed, efficient passer and fits well in this system. He has thrown for 746 yards with two touchdowns through their first four games. He played a really good game in their opener against Notre Dame but has been inconsistent this season while nursing a sore knee. Reilly has a couple of targets that have emerged in Ryan Alderman who leads the team in receiving with 221 yards, one touchdown and Jalen Fitzpatrick who has 119 yards. Leading the Owls rushing attack is Kenneth Harper with 222 yards and 6 touchdowns. Zaire Williams is the second leading rusher with 219 yards, but left their game against Idaho with a leg injury. Reilly is the third leading rusher on this team with over a 100 yards and one touchdown. The Cards defense has had trouble with mobile QB,s in the past and they’ll get their shot at one again this weekend. The Owls will have several young guys up front trying to make room for their skill players. Lorenzo Mauldin and company haven’t been too friendly to the other offensive fronts they have faced this season, so that spells trouble for the Owls. This Temple offense has struggled to score points this season and facing one of the best defenses in the country is not going to help them any.

Things don’t really get much better on the defensive side of the ball for this football team. They have struggled to get any kind of pass rush and a team that struggled mightily in stopping the run last season is giving up over 190 yards a game so far this season. The Owls return nobody of note in the secondary this season and that has resulted in them giving up over 300 yards a game through the air. They do have one guy that stands out on the defensive side of the ball in Sophomore linebacker Tyler Matakevich who totaled a school-record 24 tackles in there last game. But it will take more than one guy to stop the high powered Cards offense. I look for a Teddy and company to put up some more big numbers this weekend in PA.

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The Owls have dropped 10 of their past 14 and they are a struggling football program right now. They even made it on ESPN’s “Bottom Ten” list this past week. They are struggling to find out what kind of football team they are and I don’t think they’ll figure it out this week against our Cards. The guys in Vegas have the Cards by 30+ and I’d say that’s about right as it should be a blowout in Philly.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 48 Temple 6

Basketball Practice Starts Friday

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This Friday college basketball season will officially begin as teams all across the country will be allowed to start practice. Our National Champion Louisville Cardinal basketball team will begin practicing Saturday for their upcoming title defense. College basketball moved up the start date for practice by 2 weeks this year. During the next six weeks Coach Pitino will be allowed to have 30 practices including scrimmages and exhibition games. The fans first chance to see the defending champs will be during a Red and White scrimmage on October 5th at 4:00pm in the KFC Yum Center.

This season the Cards will have some new faces on the team and will have some new talent to blend with the returning veterans. I am most excited to see Chris Jones and Terry Rozier. These guys have the opportunity to have a big impact on this season. Both had to wait it out to get their chance to play big time college basketball. Chris in Junior College and Terry in Prep School. These guys are going to be hungry and ready to prove they belong. I also think Agau and Gill could see their opportunities but do think these guys will be developed at a slower pace.
This season will also be first chance for
“The Mango” to get his opportunity to see the floor in competition. Mangok has already been heralded by Coach Pitino as one of the fastest guys on the team for his ability to get up and down the floor.
This could be the season when Wayne Blackshear finally puts up the numbers Cardinal fans have expected since he walked on the court. This was the first summer that Wayne has been completely healthy and not held back in workouts by his shoulders. The same could be said for Luke Hancock. We got a glimpse of what he is capable of during his magical Final Four run. He was also able to have a productive summer free of injury and that is bad news for the Louisville opponents.
Montrezl Harrell had everyone talking after his summer performances winning a gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague. He might be the key to another trip to the Final Four.
I will be anxious to see if
“Big Game” Behanan is ready to take his play to the next level and bring it every week regardless of the situation or opponent.
All of Cardinal Nation will be waiting for that moment when Kevin Ware checks into his first game of the season.
Last but definitely not least is the guy who decided to come back for his senior season to give Cardinal fans one last
“Russdiculous” year Russ Smith. When Slam magazine ask Russ about his nickname in an interview this summer he had this to say: Smith told SLAM. “Sometimes it brings a negative perception, but I just play basketball and I’m a winner. At the end of the day there are guys with names like Mr. Fundamental, but they don’t have two straight Final Fours and a national championship. I have rings, man.”
I think that pretty much sums up the most charismatic player to ever wear the Cardinal gear. He is a winner and I hope he adds to that ring collection this year.

So much anticipation and excitement surrounding this 2013-14 Cardinal basketball team. They will head into this season with all the momentum in the world and in my opinion playing with house money. Back to back Final Fours, a National Championship and haven’t felt defeat since February 9th last year. The hard work starts Friday and the journey to what could be another very special season will begin.

FIU Gets Clocked By The Cards

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(Teddy and former high school teammate E.J. Hilliard after game photo courtesy Chris Hatfield)

Coach Strong and company came into this one with one thing in mind and that was to play a complete game from a skills standpoint. They accomplished that and more in the total dismantling of the FIU Golden Panthers today. It was so bad that both coaching staffs mutually agreed on a running clock in the second half. That is something you see often in a high school or grade school game but is very rare in college football. Forcing a FBS team to want a running clock has to count for something in the National Title picture right?

It was just one of those days. A 72-0 shut-out by our Cards (second of Strong era), Teddy Ballgame goes 17-22 for 212 yards with 4 touchdowns, DeVante Parker had 74 receiving yards with 2 touchdowns, all of our running backs got a touchdown, Louisville’s defense holds FIU to 28 total yards breaking the all-time record of fewest yards allowed of 58, Cards scored the most points in the Strong era also second-most in school history, and had 464 yards of total offense. Teddy says after the game: “We’re trying to do something special this year. Talent can take you a long way, but the leaders have to step up, we did that.” Yes you did Teddy, yes you did…

We’ve heard all season about the strength of the schedule, but the players can’t do anything about that. All they can do is come out and perform like they did today. From whistle to whistle the whole team executed. This season is also looking like a great opportunity for the coaching staff to develop young talent for a more competitive conference next year. Say what you want about schedule’s but this Cardinal football team is performing like a top 5 program right now and that’s all that really matters in the big picture.

Our Cards will now head into the bye-week and it will be a time of more work on perfecting the little things. Coach Strong on heading into conference play: “Every game counts. We need to keep getting better.” Teddy on heading into the bye-week: “We’re going to take advantage of it and get ready for the next opponent”.

I’m a very happy Cardinal football fan heading into the bye-week. Our Cardinals are 4-0 and looking great. Very excited to see what the rest of the season has in store for us.

The Beak Football Breakdown: Cards vs. Panthers

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Our Cardinals are rolling right along during the early part of this college football season and will take a 3-0 record into week four. The Cards really haven’t been challenged yet and I don’t think that will change on Saturday when the Florida International Panthers come to town for a noon kickoff. The game won’t be televised but you can watch it on ESPN 3. The Cardinals and Panthers have battled on the gridiron two times in the past and the series is tied at 1-1. FIU came to Louisville on September 9th 2011 and beat the Cardinals 24 to 17. Last year it was the Cardinals who claimed victory down in Miami beating the Panthers 28-21.

The best way to sum up this FIU program is by using the word “raw”. They are in complete rebuild mode with a new coach, new players and a new league. Their new coach is Ron Turner, the ex-Illinois coach who spent the last eight seasons in the NFL before returning to the college game. And they moved from the Sun Belt to Conference USA. The Panthers are 0-3 to start their season and are hungry for that first win of the year.

FIU has some decent players at their skill positions. Leading Ron Turner’s pro style West Coast offense will be junior quarterback Jake Medlock. He has passed for 300 yards and one touchdown this season. Medlock did sustain a concussion last weekend against Bethune-Cookman. Should Medlock not be able to play, sophomore E.J. Hilliard would start in his place. Hilliard has completed 10 of 13 passes this season in relief duty, totaling 75 yards. Coach Turner said Medlock was day-to-day, and he refused to rule him out for Saturday’s game.
The primary targets have been sophomore WR T.J. Lowder, sophomore WR Fred Porter, and freshman TE Jonnu Smith. These three have combined for 300 yards and two TDs this season. At 6-2 and 6-3 Porter and Smith are a prototypically sized starting receiver corps for this system. The receiving group is the deepest group on this team.
One of the expected foundations in a rebuilding season for FIU’s football team was Kedrick Rhodes. He was destined to be that schools all-time leading rusher. All that before he was dismissed from the team for firing a gun on campus. Taking over the running back workload are sophomore Lamarq Caldwell, and freshman Alfonso Randolph. These guys have combined for 62 carries for over 180 yards so far this season. As I mentioned above this FIU team has several great young raw athletes in the skill positions. Unfortunately for this offense they also have a raw offensive front; the Panthers are breaking in five new starters along the line. This group is going to struggle against a tough Cardinal defense to have enough room and time to operate. Charles Gaines, Preston Brown and Lorenzo Mauldin should be more than up for this challenge and I look for the Louisville defense to impose their will Saturday.

FIU’s defense lost its star end, two leading figures at tackle, the entire starting linebacker corps and three starters in the secondary. This defense will rely heavily on the group up front. They have a big and versatile defensive front led by senior tackles Isame Faciane and Greg Hickman. They also have two very good DE’s in Giovani Francois and Paul Crawford. They will help in keeping a Cardinal running game from going wild, but our Cardinals will face an inexperienced secondary this weekend in Papa Johns Stadium and will likely look to take advantage early and often. I don’t see a way FIU holds Teddy and company under 400 yards through the air.

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The Cardinals are a 40 plus favorite in this game and the bottom line here is FIU’s youth and inexperience. They have been exploited in every game they’ve played this season and that won’t change Saturday. If you are a rebuilding football team the last thing you want to see on the schedule this year is that Cardinal head. It’s going to be a long day for Florida International. And should be a great opportunity for Louisville to work on some things before the schedule gets tougher.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 55 FIU 6

Cards Keep The Cup

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Heading to the game today I had high hopes for how the Cardinals would perform in the Governor’s Cup. And although it was a hard fought victory I came away feeling like this team has some work to do. Stoops and company did exactly what I had expected they would. They loaded the box to stop the run and took their chances with Teddy and the Louisville receivers. Their game plan was working like a charm through the first half but then an injury to one of their key players mixed things up. When Defensive tackle Donte Rumph went down it opened up a hole in the second half and the Cards running backs took advantage of it, especially Senorise Perry who had 100 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. Dyer also had a pretty good day with 62 yards. That injury really was a big momentum shift in this game. When the Cards got things going in the ground game it opened up some stuff through the air. Teddy and company didn’t have the explosive day I thought they would but still respectable. Teddy finished with 250 yards and one touchdown, Damian Copeland had 81 yards and DeVante Parker had 50 yards with one touchdown.

I think everyone came into the day expecting to see Louisville’s high powered offense dominate the day but it was the defenses of both teams that were the story. The Cards did allow 3-4 on 4th down conversions but only allowed the Cats 17 first downs on 0-13 3rd down conversions. The Wildcats not being able to convert third downs really dashed any shot they had of pulling this upset. And give the Wildcats defensive line credit. They controlled the line of scrimmage in the first half and really grounded a very good Louisville offense. When you hold Teddy under 300 yards your defense has had a good day.

The Cards keep the Governor’s Cup for the third consecutive year and more importantly move to 3-0 on this early season. The game today proves that they still have some work to do. The offensive line, and special teams are areas that really stand out to me. But hey I’ll let Coach Strong and his staff worry about that. I’m just gonna enjoy having an undefeated football team for another week and hopefully will see the Cards take another step up in the polls. It was another great day to be a Louisville Cardinal fan.

Enjoy some of the sights and sounds from today:

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X’s & O’s From The National Title Game

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Joel Machota is a Graduate Assistant with the University of Detroit-Mercy Men’s Basketball program and today he tweeted out something that was interesting to me. He picked out some of his favorite plays in the National Championship game and shared them. You can read more about Joel here on Hoop Scoop. And check out the plays in PDF format. Both Louisville and Michigan put on a basketball clinic that night in the Georgia Dome. It was the best game I’ve ever seen in person so it is interesting to actually see some of the great plays from that night diagramed out in PDF format. It’s not just about the Jimmy’s and Joe’s. And this gives you a look at the actual X’s and O’s that made this such a great game.

The Beak Football Breakdown: Cards vs. Wildcats

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The bitter banter has heated up this summer between UK and Louisville fans. Perhaps the “Year of the Cardinal” has made it hotter than ever. We have had twitter wars, Facebook wars, and even had a movie made, but now its time for the gridiron version of “The Battle of the Bluegrass” to take center stage. Both programs will be on display for the nation to watch 12:00pm Saturday on ESPN. The build up for this game has been as big as ever. UK leads the all-time series 14-11, but Louisville has won the last two. Louisville has lead the series since 1994 with a record of 11-8. Our Cards are the heavy favorites in this one and victory will be sweet. I can’t wait to yell Yahtzee every time we get in the end-zone that day. Its Louisville versus Kentucky and possibly the most important game on our schedule from the fan perspective. With a 32-14 win last year the Cardinals will be looking for their 3rd in a row over the Cats. The last time UofL won three in a row in this series was in 2003 through 2005. Since the inception of the Governor’s Cup in 1994, each team has recorded a maximum of a four-game winning streak with Louisville winning from 2003-06 and Kentucky taking the Cup home from 2007-10. The Cards go into this game listed as a double-digit favorite by many of the Las Vegas sports books.

(Video Courtesy @TheCrunchZone)

Kentucky and new head coach Mark Stoops will have one of the best recruiting classes in the nation coming to Lexington next year but that won’t help them much Saturday. This Saturday the Louisville defense will face Kentucky’s air raid offense, but see a significant commitment to the run game as well. Their quarterback controversy seems to be settled for now as it looks like Maxwell Smith will be the man under center for the Wildcats. Smith has seen the most action throughout his career at Kentucky and it is clear that he is a leader for that group when he’s on the field. He has thrown for over 2000 yards in his career with 16 touchdowns and last year was able to move the ball down the field against Louisville. They just had trouble sustaining those drives and converting on third downs. I think he will be a solid threat on Saturday and will challenge the Cardinal defense with short passes in the flats and middle of the field. He will be looking to complete a good percentage of his passes, and will rely on tailbacks Jonathan George and Raymond Sanders to provide support in the running game. These guys will also catch passes. On Saturday Stoops will also use tight ends as receivers in different formation sets, and he is blessed with a group of four senior tight ends eager to get on the field. Leading the way in this group will be Anthony Kendrick. The Louisville defense is much quicker and more talented than this Kentucky offensive group but their creativity will keep our guys on their toes. The Louisville defense will have to play disciplined football. I look for defensive lineman Roy Philon, defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin, and Safety Calvin Pryor to be standout performers. Philon is a Lexington native who is returning home for vengeance, Mauldin is looking for vengeance every weekend and Pryor will be the fastest guy on the field.

(Video Courtesy HeraldLeaderVideos)

Looking to slow down Teddy and company are the Wildcats top three leading tacklers from the 2012 season, senior LB Avery Williamson who racked up 135 tackles last year, which was second in the SEC; junior DE Alvin Dupree who managed 91 tackles last year, and junior Miles Simpson who recorded 70 tackles at weak side linebacker. I think Stoops will pick his poison when it comes to Louisville’s high octane offense. He will load the box with 8 or nine guys to stop the run and hope that Teddy and his receiving group have an off day. The Kentucky defense up front will be mostly returning starters, and they will be helping out the young secondary as much as possible. They lost a starting safety and corner to graduation. To be frank their DB’s are flat out horrible and it should be a big day for Teddy, Parker,Copeland,Clark, and Christian. Michael Dyer also moved up on the depth chart this week and I think he’s very capable of a breakout game due to his pass catching ability out of the backfield.

The Cardinal’s will have to be much better in their kickoff and punt coverage this weekend. This is one area where this team has struggled. Kentucky’s return guys will be the fastest and most talented group the Cards have faced in this early season. A few break away touchdowns here could swing the momentum enough in a game like this to result in a major upset. This I my main concern for this game.

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Other than my concern for special teams I don’t think the “Battle for the Bluegrass” will be much of a battle but it could be pretty competitive, especially early on. Emotions will be running high like they always are in this game. These emotions can make up for deficiencies early in sports competitions but ultimately the better team will usually prevail. I don’t think that there is any question who the better team is here. The Cards ability and their execution is on a different level. I do think that our arch rivals are on the road to that in the future but their program is at the first stage of being rebuilt and the score board will reflect that on Saturday afternoon.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 38 Kentucky 17

The Beak’s Prediction for the
Howard Schnellenberger Award:

My prediction for the award this year is WR DeVante Parker who will finish with 160 yards receiving with 3 TD’s. I believe he will win this award for his ability to take over this game. He should be able to have his way in a very poor UK secondary.

The 2010 game was the inaugural year for the award. The award is given to the Most Valuable Player of the game. It is named for Howard Schnellenberger, who played under Bear Bryant for Kentucky and coached at Louisville.
Previous winners:

-(9-04-2010) Derrick Locke, RB@ Kentucky had 23 Carries, 104 Yards, for 2 TD’s
-(9-17-2011) Dexter Heyman, LB@ Louisville had 12 Tackles & 1 Forced Fumbles
-(9-02-2012) Teddy Bridgewater Louisville QB 19/21, 232 Yards

Weather Forecast For Kickoff:

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Coach Pitino Takes His Spot In The Hall

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The Summer of Pitino concluded today as he took his spot among the greats in the Hall of Fame at Enshrinement ceremonies in Springfield, Mass. He was inducted by Hubie Brown and Dick Vitale in front of family, friends and colleagues. It is great to see another basketball coach represent the Louisville Cardinals while becoming a Hall of Fame member. There’s no doubt that Rick Pitino will be one of the greatest coaches we will ever see on a college basketball court. I know he made all of Kentucky proud today and I know we are all very lucky to have been a part of his great career.

You can watch Coach Pitino’s induction speech below:

Cards Cruise With UK Game Looming

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The Cards came out today and they took care of business just like most expected they would beating EKU 44 to 7. The atmosphere in Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium was awesome as just over 53,000 fans showed up for the 12:00pm kickoff. It was the 5th largest crowd ever to watch a game. Pretty impressive numbers considering that it was against a FCS opponent. Teddy Ballgame threw for 397 yards and 4 touchdowns and DeVante Parker had 5 catches for 134 yards with 2 touchdowns. These two guys were the highlight of the day for the Cards offense but the the 5 headed monster known as the Cardinals running backs were held in check with only 79 yards. I said in my pregame post that this was probably the best defense that EKU has had in a long time and they showed it today by putting up a very respectable effort against the Cards. They have a gutsy bunch down in Richmond Kentucky and they have nothing to hang their heads about after today. They brought the game to the Cardinals and came to play.

The attitude in the Cardinals locker room after the game was one of discontent as both Charlie Strong and his players all felt like they could have been better today. The Kicking game gave up too much return yardage, the defense gave up a few first downs that should have been stopped, and the offensive line could have done a better job at controlling the line of scrimmage. All stuff that will provide some teaching moments to coach Strong and his staff this week as they prepare for the game with Kentucky. I think the looming rival game played a big part in the Cards performance today. I think they kept the offense simple not wanting to show much today and I do think the players were looking ahead. I know they say that doesn’t happen but I think it does.

A win is a win and the Cardinals are now one step closer to that undefeated season and possible National Title game. Below you can check out the sights and sounds of the Cardinals versus EKU.








Coach Pitino’s Big Weekend Starts With A Bang

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It’s been a year like no other for Rick Pitino. Our head coach is on top of the world right now with a smile that won’t fade, getting ready for his induction into the Hall of Fame, a team that could contend for a third consecutive Final Four appearance and a recruiting class that could shake down as one of the nation’s best. And today that recruiting class got a little stronger when 4* 6-9 PF Jaylen Johnson of Ypsilanti, Michigan decided that he wanted to become a Louisville Cardinal. “I wanted to say congratulations and tell him I was coming to Louisville,” Johnson said. “Louisville is the perfect fit for me.” He is ranked #62 by Scout, #55 by 247Sports, #56 by rivals, #134 by Future150 and #62 in ESPN100. Look for these rankings to go up as Johnson just started to shine at the LeBron camp this summer and went from the B-list to the A-list in July.

“I felt Louisville made me a priority. The entire coaching staff was at my games in Las Vegas,” Johnson said. “I want to improve my game and have a chance to play in the NBA. I know Coach Pitino is hard and will make me a better player. He is a great teacher.”

Coach Pitino’s recent development of players like Earl Clark, Gorgui Dieng, Montrezl Harrell, and Chane Behanan is what caught the eye of Jaylen and his mom. Yes I said his mom. She once led the Big Ten in blocked shots at Wisconsin so she knows a thing or two about the round ball. Per an article written by the recruiting guru of the Courier Journal Steve Jones Jaylen’s AAU coach said: U of L coach Rick Pitino has told Johnson he can envision him following a path similar to Harrell’s, a freshman role player last season who appears poised for a breakout sophomore year.

On top of getting a great basketball player in Johnson the Cardinals will also be getting a great young man who is grounded by his family, faith and his community. According to an article written in The Detroit News being a good person, a good citizen and true to his spiritual well-being are what’s most important in Johnson’s life. Then comes his basketball. Commits like this have me smiling from ear to ear and it ensures that we continue to not only have a great basketball team but also have great ambassadors of the Cardinal Pride. Jaylen will embrace the Louisville First culture.

ESPN on Johnson: “Johnson is a promising player that is just scratching the surface of his potential. Look for him to continue to climb the recruiting charts and end up having a better career going forward than some of the players ranked ahead of him.”