Rob Jones- From The Sidelines

Charlie Strong and his football team did what everyone expected in their 32-14 trouncing of rival Kentucky. Teddy Bridgewater was as advertised – picking the defense apart like a surgeon in only 2 1/2 quarters of play. The defense held the opposition to less than 20 points yet again and Louisville fans left the stadium Sunday all smiles with back-to-back victories over the hated Cats. It’s always a great feeling to have bragging rights for another year.
Let’s not get carried away, though. The victory needs to be put into perspective. Kentucky is not a very good football team. Louisville has the expectations of a conference championship and BCS bowl invite. Sticking your chest out and bragging about Sunday’s victory has bully characteristics. Almost like a 300 lb football player bragging about beating up the 150 lb math geek with tape on his glasses. More harm done with a loss than glory with a win. For Louisville fans, it’s always a proud moment to beat the boys in blue, but this season the Cards have bigger fish to fry.
This weekend’s match-up with Missouri St. will be more of the same. In all facets of the game, Strong has a better team. It would be shocking not to see another Will Stein victory lap in the second half. Barring a catastrophe of epic proportions, the Cards will take a 2-0 record into the meat of their schedule – North Carolina at home and 2 difficult road games against FIU and Southern Miss in 3 consecutive weeks.
That 3 week stretch will be the true test to see if the high expectations are legit. Beating an SEC doormat and Missouri Valley team won’t raise the eyebrows of any voters. Having a 5-0 record going into the October 6th bye-week will. I’m sure Coach Strong has let his players know as much. Focus needs to be maintained in order for the Cards to achieve their ultimate goals this year. Sure, a couple setbacks in the non- conference won’t effect the conference title picture, but it would set the Cards back from a national perspective.
Watching your team bust out the whoopin’ stick is amazing and puts confidence for both the team and the fans at astronomical levels. Yet, that won’t mean anything if the Cards can’t gain on that momentum. Last season’s victory against Kentucky was followed by a 3-game losing streak. The biggest victory of the year – on the road at West Virginia – was rewarded with a loss at home to PITT. Missouri St. isn’t at the caliber of those teams, so a chances of history repeating itself are slim, but it has to make you wonder about the UNC, at FIU, at Southern Miss stretch.
 The team did nothing against UK to prove they were going to follow this same pattern. Players and fans were happy with the victory, but expected it.  Missouri St. should be a nice little dessert. After that, it’s time to get to business.
This season’s team is a year older and wiser, but still young. They have the tools and talent to be great, but can they maintain focus through the entire season?
That remains to be seen, but they are off to a pretty good start.

— Rob Jones

Twitter – @RobJones502

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