This is something I’m going start doing every Manday regarding what transpired for the local sports squads we cover here on the Pinkie. Since I’m mainly a UofL contributor, I’ll address the Cards loss against Utah first. I watched the game again Sunday night and I came away slightly more encouraged than I was after watching it live. Even though I am pretty much an eternal optimist, I am in no way as encouraged as I was after the Kentucky game, but there were still some positives.
First, the special teams unit was very impressive. Sans the blocked field goal, the Louisville special teams covered kickoffs and punts extremely well. Utah had three chances to return Louisville punts, and gained a combined 17 yards on those returns. The Utes also received two Louisville kickoffs and gained a combined 31 yards. Senior punter Cory Goettsche has been great this year and in the Utah game, he punted seven times and averaged 49 yards per punt, including three over 50 yards.
Chris Philpott continued his improvement on kickoffs as well. He kicked off three times and recorded one touchback. But more important than getting a touchback, his kickoffs had good hangtime which allowed the Louisville players to get down the field and make tackles. In the return game, Louisville did not get many chances due to Utah recording five touchbacks. But the one time the Cards did return a kick, Doug Beaumont went for 33 yards.
The main concern in the special teams was the blocked field goal. After watching the game again, it was clear the block was not on kicker Ryan Payne. Tight end Pete Nochta flat out missed the outside rusher from Utah which allowed the kick to be blocked. While Payne is never gonna make people forget about Art Carmody, that block was not on him.
I was also impressed with the defense for the most part. They swarmed to the ball and hit people. It was clear by the end of the game they were worn out, but I no longer feel like the defense is an issue. Let me be clear, the Louisville defense is not the Florida defense, but I do not think the Cards defensive unit is the problem or even a problem at all.
Obviously, the biggest concern coming out of the Utah game was the turnovers. Louisville turned the ball over on a Bilal Powell fumble, a Justin Burke interception, and a Trent Guy fumble. Powell fumbled and quite simply that’s a reoccurring issue with him. Redshirt freshman Darius Ashley finally got a couple carries and if Powell cannot keep the ball in his hands, then Darius Ashley will see a lot more playing time.
In regards to Burke’s interception, the aggravating thing was not him throwing a pick. Interceptions happen, most people understand that, but on that particular play, if Burke would have waited just a second longer, he had Beaumont wide open. On that specific play, Scott Long was running a deep post on the backside which would have taken the safety and cornerback out of the play leaving Beaumont free over the middle. Or, if the corner and safety don’t bite, then Long is wide open deep. Instead, Burke rushed the throw for really no reason and threw a pick.
Now, the Trent Guy fumble. Let me just say first and foremost, I like Trent Guy a lot. I think he’s a very good football player and has the ability each time he touches the ball to take it the distance. That being said, I’m going to say this as plainly as I can: WHEN YOU RUN TO THE LEFT, YOU DO NOT HOLD THE BALL ON YOUR RIGHT SIDE!!!!!! I’m done.
Onto the Cats. They lost to the Gators 41-7, which going into the game, I honestly would have thought, so what. However, getting down 31-0 in the first quarter should not happen. I have heard several people echo this thought and I believe it to be true, the Kentucky players did not feel they belonged on the same field as Florida.
I know Rich Brooks said after the game he has got to do a better job of getting his team ready to play. He’s the coach and ultimately whatever happens on the field is all on him, but quite honestly, Florida is ranked #1 and they are coming into your house on national television. As players, there is absolutely no extra motivation needed. Whether that was the case or not can be debated, but I would also like to point out that Florida is damn good when they want to be.
Having said that, let us keep in mind the Cats are 2-1 and retained the Governor’s Cup for the third strait year. Going into the season, if told the Cats would be 2-1 after three games, I think the overwhelming majority of Kentucky fans either take that, or say that’s what our record should be. So while their performance against Florida was not necessarily encouraging, it is no way a sign for panic.
One of the big debates coming out of the debacle on Saturday was the status of quarterback Mike Hartline. He finished 13-28 for 85 yards with a touchdown and two picks, and it didn’t really look that good. Mike Hartline is who he is. He is not Andre Woodson, Tim Couch, or even Dusty Bonner. Do not take his performance against Florida as a referendum on his status as starting quarterback.
However, the one problem I had with Hartline on Saturday was his showing up of wide receiver Chris Matthews after a miscommunication on a passing route. For those who missed it, Kentucky was in the red zone, and Hartline threw the ball for an out route while Matthews ran what appeared to be a post or slant. As the ball fell incomplete, Hartline was clearly aggravated and as Matthews walked back to the huddle Hartline, with arms raised, yelled “what are you doing?”. Hartline needs to stop that.
-Are the Bengals actually good? After falling behind 13-0 early, they impressively drove down the field in the final minutes to take out the Steelers 23-20 and improve to 2-1 on the year. Just think if they could have defended a Kyle Orton hail mary, the Bengals would be undefeated.
-The St. Louis Cardinals clinched the National League Central Divison crown on Saturday. I hate them. So much.
-What’s worse than ESPN coverage of Brett Favre coming out retirement? How about ESPN coverage of Brett Favre making a game winning pass.
-I finally got Steven Jackson on my fantasy squad this year and I was beyond excited. Naturally, after three weeks he has no touchdowns. Figures.
-Tiger Woods won the PGA Tour FedEx Cup and that’s apparently a big deal.