UofL football meandered through much of this season like a lost puppy trying to find its way home through lonely streets and alleys. They looked great at times and looked horrendous at others. Sometimes within a single game they could look like world beaters and then like broken men.
Inconsistent play was a problem for the offense. It was a combination of player focus and disjointed play calling. For the defense, horrid fundamentals and bland play calling consistently made the defense look like an electric fence with the power turned off. The problem for the team and coaching staff as a whole was there seemed to be a lack of fire. Players and coaches sometimes looked like they’d rather be anywhere, but on the field. It obviously showed in an undisciplined and unfocused approach to the game at hand.
For the first time since the early part of last year, I saw the real UofL Football team and coaching staff. It was the real McCoy. The genuine article. Small lapses happened with a couple of fumbles and a blown coverage, but overall I saw the team we thought may compete for an ACC Title.
Photo Courtesy of Pat McDonogh/Courier Journal
Lamar was Lamar. Making defenders look like middle schoolers and making beautiful throws and epic runs. However, it wasn’t just him. The receiving corps looked like AFROS; making gorgeous catches like Jaylen Smith’s one-handed TD catch. Oh, and we saw that Bobby 1.0 staple…a power running game! Led by Malik and Dae Williams, the running game looked like a couple of tanks laying waste to the defenses of an enemy.
Where the real improvement was, was in UofL’s defense. They played with a fiery edge and energy. Virginia has been a good offensive team this year. UofL made them look meh.
James Hearns terrorized the Virginia QB. So much so that I believe that dude will pee his pants anytime he sees the number 99. Trevon Young, Henry Famurewa, and other linemen were digging their way through the Wahoo offensive line and finding the treasure of tackles for loss.
Linebackers flocked to the ball on running plays as any Cardinal should. There weren’t going to be yards after contact. With the exception of one blown coverage on a Virginia TE that led to a TD, they held their own in coverage.
The secondary played exceptionally well. Jaire was his usual island unto himself. Trumaine Washington was finally true in coverage. He didn’t really get beat deep. Also, the entire secondary apparently had an epiphany during the bye week. They saw the light. Finally, they got their heads around to find the ball in coverage and guess what? They knocked down numerous passes. It’s a miracle!
Photo Courtesy of thetandd.com
The coaches called a great game and had the team looking prepared and passionate.
Peter Sirmon finally gets some credit because the defense was lining up on time, playing with huge effort, and looking sound fundamentally. The tackling was excellent and was obviously a key point of emphasis in the bye week.
The offense looked much more efficient and smooth. It flowed rather than looking disjointed. There was much better balance in the play calling and it helped take pressure off Lamar to be Superman while getting a pitiful running game firing on all cylinders.
Could it be our fighting Cardinals found the spark of life needed to win out and build toward next year? Possibly. I have to see it more than once, but what I saw last Saturday was the real UofL stand up. An attacking defense and an explosive, BALANCED offense. Oh, and a coaching staff that looked like it knew exactly what it wanted to do and executed the play calling perfectly.
Kudos UofL Football. I want last Saturday to be the beginning of a real turnaround; the signal sent to signify the ascendance of this program to the heights of college football royalty. This is an attainable goal in my opinion. I recognize it’s only one game, but it is a step in the right direction.