Author Archives: Mitch Motley
Entering today’s game, Louisville was sitting at 2-1 with a chance to move forward from their lackluster start and make a move in the right direction. Louisville not only failed on the scoreboard today, but a lot of the questions surrounding the team were answered in a way that everyone hoped was incorrect.
Louisville was beaten at Virginia today by a final score of 27-3. We saw both quarterbacks, Malik Cunningham and Puma Pass, prove to be ineffective and ill-prepared. Receivers drop passes that should undoubtedly be caught. A defense that lost its stinginess and confidence as the Hoos progressively wore them down. A coaching staff, that had a full week to prepare for this team behind Cunningham, look completely lost and out-coached. And a game so bad that I had to dig into my Kragthorpe memories to find a comparison.
Last night, the unranked Louisville Cardinals traveled to Orlando to take on the No. 1 defending champ, Alabama. The Cards weren’t expected to win or even get close (the spread was 24) and those expectations proved to be accurate. The Tide jumped ahead early and never looked back behind rising star, Tua Tagovailoa. The final score was 51-14.
Though the final score was lopsided, the Cards didn’t play bad at first. They missed opportunities which caused the score to snowball and then seemingly gave up once the score got out of hand. Puma Pass and the offensive line were bright spots, however. The offensive line didn’t give up their first sack until late in the 3rd quarter and only allowed 3 all game. Puma threw a couple questionable passes that were intercepted (one of them returned for a touchdown), but otherwise the first time starter looked poised and made some throws against the scariest defensive front the Cards will see all season.
Last season: Lamar Jackson followed his 2016 Heisman campaign with another Heisman-worthy season. Don’t take this as a disservice to Lamar Jackson, but I’m not going to spend much of this article talking about the greatest player in Louisville/college football history. Like this team has to do, we as fans also have to move on from Lamar and shift our focus to our QB now, Puma Pass.
In the 5 games that Puma saw action, he went 23-33 for 238 yards with 2 touchdowns and a passer rating of 150.3. While his competition was mainly the reserve units, he still showed off his arm strength and accuracy. He also ran for 62 yards on 13 carries with 1 touchdown, showcasing his athleticism.
Last season: Last season the running game was very obviously dominated by Quarterback, Lamar Jackson. He dominated the ground to a tune of 1601 yards, while the leading 5 running backs after him only accounted for 1418 yards. Although that stat is seemingly damning to the unit, Louisville’s offense was clearly at its best when Lamar had the ball, so the coaches very wisely gave it to him, a lot.
Though the reps weren’t quite there for the running backs, they did well when the ball was in their hands. Reggie Bonnafon led the running backs with 459 yards on 93 carries (4.9 yards per carry) with 7 touchdowns. Fellow senior, Malik Williams showed spurts of excitement with 531 yards on 67 carries (7.9 yards per carry) with 4 touchdowns. Then came the miracle man, Dae Williams.
Dae had torn his ACL early in the offseason and somehow worked his way to recovery in record time to show us all what we will see this season. He only saw meaningful snaps in 3 games last year and finished with 38 carries for 235 yards (6.2 yards per carry) with 3 touchdowns as a freshman. Then, there was freshman, Colin Wilson who burst onto the scene with some explosive runs and averaged 11.5 yards per carry on 6 carries before he suffered a season ending leg injury. Add Trey Smith (21 carries for 124 yards) to the equation and entering this season, the Cards have a three-headed monster at running back.
Last season: Arguably the biggest issue of the defense last season was the lack of pressure put on opposing quarterbacks. The personnel wasn’t the problem. Trevon Young and James Hearns manned the edges and both wreaked havoc in opposing backfields. Jonathan Greenard also saw time at the edge position and had a solid redshirt-sophomore season. Drew Bailey lost most of his senior season due to injuries, which left the front positions to be filled by younger guys. Guys like: G.G. Robinson, and Henry Famurewa filled the void in the front and all return this year looking to build on last year.
The true reason for the lack of pressure upfront came from the scheme installed by former defensive coordinator, Peter Sirmon. Sirmon ran a 3-4 defense and unlike the Todd Grantham, Sirmon rarely (putting ‘rarely’ lightly) brought added pressure outside of the front 3. That should change this year.
Last season, we saw the consistency of Blanton Creque and Mason King in their unheralded, but all important roles. While the return game was managed by the likes of Reggie Bonnafon and Seth Dawkins, we missed out on the excitement of Jaire Alexander due to his injury suffered in the first game. The first two names mentioned are back in their roles and look to build on already successful careers. The return game will be an interesting decision when the depth chart is released.
Redshirt-Junior Blanton Creque is as good a kicker that the Louisville football program has seen. His accuracy and dependability is up there with former Lou Groza winner, Art Carmody. For his career, Creque is 97-99 on extra points and 33-39 on field goals good for 84.6%. When Creque takes the field, the Louisville fans should feel confident that he’s going to throw points on the board.
After thoroughly dismantling Middle Tennessee in the 2nd round, the Louisville Cardinals had to quickly shift their focus to tonight’s game against Mississippi State. The game is set to tip-off at 9pm in the Yum! Center and will be televised on ESPN.
Mississippi State defeated Nebraska in the 1st round and Baylor in the second round to get to this point. They’re led by brothers Quinndary and Nick Weatherspoon. Quinndary leads the team in scoring with 14.4 points per game and Nick is the second leading scorer at 10.9 points per game. Quinndary hit a three-pointer at the buzzer against Baylor to send the Bears home.
It started with smothering defense, followed by a massive 3-point barrage that helped Louisville gain an early big lead and the Cards never looked back. Louisville dominated Middle Tennessee and went on to win by a final score of 84-68.
Ray Spalding led the Cards in scoring with 18 points on 8-11 shooting. VJ King also had a good game with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Although the starters played well, the real story was the bench. Jordan Nwora had his best performance as a Cardinal. The true freshman finished the game with 17 points and went 4-8 from the 3-point line. Ryan McMahon had himself a night as well. McMahon was on fire from deep in the 1st half and was a big reason why the Cards jumped out to their early lead. He finished with 15 points and went 4-7 from the 3-point line.
Louisville dominated a solid opponent tonight and the craziest thing about it was Deng Adel didn’t score a single point. Deng only shot the ball once all game, but he did the things that don’t show up in the stat sheet. It was a great team win and this team looks poised to make a run to win this whole thing.
Up next: Louisville will take on Mississippi State on Tuesday at the Yum! Center at 9pm.
After their gritty hard-fought win over NKU, the Louisville Cardinals take on the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders today in the 2nd round of the NIT at 6:30pm in the Yum! Center. The game can be watched on ESPN2.
Middle Tennessee was one of the teams that felt slighted by the selection committee for being a mid-major program. As inconsistent as the committee has proven to be, Middle Tennessee, like Louisville, had no one to blame but themselves for missing out on the Big Dance. The Blue Raiders entered March ranked 24th in the nation and were the heavy favorite to win their conference tournament. They suffered a home loss to Marshall and were bounced in the first round of their conference tournament by Southern Mississippi. They controlled their own destiny and didn’t take advantage of their opportunities, sound familiar?
By now it’s no secret, Louisville will not be playing in this year’s NCAA tournament. Instead, Louisville accepted a bid to the NIT and received a 2-seed. Louisville will play 7-seed Northern Kentucky tonight at 7pm in the Yum! Center on ESPN.
Louisville took one on the chin yesterday. The Cards suffered their 3rd loss of the season to Virginia (this one by 17 points) and left their NCAA tournament hopes in the hands of a group of people who probably don’t want to see them in it. We haven’t been in this position in a long time and quite honestly it’s not a good one to be in, but who cares?
Before the season, the Louisville basketball program was turned upside down. Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich were both fired, leaving the entire Athletic department (more specifically in this case, basketball) in disbelief and heartbreak. That feeling was worse than when our beloved team led by Damion Lee and Trey Lewis had an unfair self-imposed NCAA tournament ban by ex-president of UofL, James Ramsey.
With Pitino and Jurich gone 3 days before practice starts, where do we turn? Who wants that job right now anyway? No one did. No one wanted a job that was still in the middle of 2 scandals and hadn’t been punished for either at the time. No one wanted a job that had the word “TEMPORARY” painted throughout the contract, athletic department, even the school. Interim president, acting athletic director, interim head coach, and quite honestly for a lot of what I saw, interim fans.
David Padgett stepped up, took the job, coached practice for a month with no assistant coaches, took unfair and unnecessary criticism from his own “fans” and yet he never wavered. Padgett accomplished 3 things Pitino couldn’t in his time in the ACC (and the Big East). Padgett won a road game against a ranked opponent, Pitino never won an ACC ranked road game. Padgett beat Notre Dame on the road, Pitino didn’t. Most recently, Padgett won a game at the ACC tournament.
Coach Padgett has done an incredible job with this team. Sure, he’s made some mistakes, but this is his first head coaching job! Could you imagine anything more stressful than to have the NCAA/FBI on your newly inherited program’s case and have some nasty fans degrade the job your doing when no one else wanted to do it? I feel terribly sorry for DP. Whether it was a game we won or not, all I’d see/hear was how much better we’d be with someone else, critiques of the job he was doing, fans leaving every game way too early or simply not showing up at all. This man just won 20 games in his first year as a head coach with everything surrounding this program and some of you have chosen to make that a failure. That is not okay.
Where do we go from here? Well, for the fans that have been miserable all year for the wrong reasons, please don’t come back next year. Switch your colors out, buy a new bumper sticker and switch your allegiances because we, the true fans, don’t want anymore negative energy around our beloved program. For the team, you practice the next few days, prepare yourselves for wherever you get sent to and you continue to make us proud.
I believe Louisville will have their name called on Sunday by the NCAA committee. And if not, I’ll go to every NIT game the Yum! Center hosts. 2 years ago, James Ramsey took away the opportunity to play postseason basketball from our team. Fans gave him hell for it and still do. But, I’ve seen countless “fans” saying this team should neglect an NIT bid if the NCAA doesn’t give them one. Keep in mind, Ramsey implemented an entire postseason ban, and the very same thing we torched him for 2 years ago is the same thing some of you have been endorsing all season.
I don’t know who takes over after this year. Quite frankly, I don’t care. I’ve loved this year’s team since the first ball was tipped and nothing will change that. Thank you, Coach Padgett. You’ve done a tremendous job all season long and nothing can take away what you’ve given the guys on the team in their darkest hour. Wherever your future takes you, I know you’ll be successful.
So, where do we go from here? Up, nothing but up.
After defeating 8-seed FSU yesterday, Louisville will lace em up at 12 again today against the 1-seed Virginia Cavaliers. The game can be watched on ESPN and Virginia currently sits as 6-point favorites.
The last time these two teams met, the story blew up. Louisville outplayed and led Virginia by 10 points for 38 minutes of the game, then everything changed and Virginia snuck out with Louisville’s marquee victory it has been searching for. Louisville proved that they could play with anyone that night. They should’ve beaten them then, but I do believe they’ll beat them now.
Virginia is led by Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, and Devon Hall. The guard trio provides the majority of their offensive production and shoots the ball well from everywhere on the floor, especially from 3. Last game I had 3 goals that Louisville needed to achieve in order to win. Allow 5 threes or fewer (failed: buzzer beater was three No. 6). Crash the offensive boards (failed: Louisville was killed on the boards). Determine the tempo of the game (succeeded: most of the game was played faster than what Virginia would have wanted, but it was controlled speed for the Cards because it was their tempo). I do believe that those 3 keys will lead to a victory.What more can you ask for? Another shot at Virginia, a chance to prove that you can beat anyone, and a huge message to the committee. It’s time for this team to play it’s best 40 minutes we’ve seen. Louisville 65 – Virginia 60
Despite blowing a 26-point lead, the Louisville Cardinals were able to secure their first win in the ACC tournament against FSU by a final score of 82-74.
Louisville led by 19 at halftime and held a 26-point lead with just over 11 minutes in the game. But, a ferocious comeback by FSU brought the score too close for comfort. Louisville was able to hit shots (some lucky) down the stretch and held on to win the game that 100% put them in the NCAA tournament (1% if the Cards lost).
Quentin Snider led the way with 19 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Ray Spalding scored 18 points. Deng Adel had 15 points and 8 rebounds. Dwayne Sutton and Darius Perry gave the Cards the bench energy they needed with 10 and 8 points, respectively.
Up next: Louisville plays Virginia tomorrow at Noon in the ACC Quarterfinals.
After losing 4 of their last 5 games, Louisville will have one last chance to impress the committee in the ACC tournament and the Cardinals must seize it. Louisville limped to the regular season finish line and earned themselves a 9 seed in the ACC tournament facing 8 seed FSU at Noon on ESPN.
The Cardinals and Seminoles are not strangers by any means. They met twice in the regular season and split the 2 games with each team winning on the other’s homecourt.
FSU is led by Terance Mann, Braian Angola and Phil Cofer. All three players can knock down the three ball, especially Angola. Mann does a good job attacking the rim and getting to the foul line. Cofer excels at being quick at his position and being a scrapper whenever he’s on the floor. The Cards have to shut down one of those three to have a chance.
No matter what happens, I’m very proud of this team and want to thank David Padgett for everything he’s done. The odds have been stacked against this team since before the first practice and there’s no time like the present to flip those odds. Louisville can control its own destiny, starting tomorrow. And I fully expect the Cards to do so.
Louisville 77 – Florida State 70
Louisville travels to NC State to take on the Kevin Keatts led Wolfpack today at 6pm on ESPN. NC State is currently favored by 1.5 points.
Since Keatts has taken over the job after leaving UNC Wilmington, the Wolfpack have shown a lot of improvement and especially lately. NC State suffered a setback in their last game by losing at Georgia Tech by 3, but the game before that the Wolfpack demolished FSU 92-72.
Coming off a solid road win at Virginia Tech, Louisville returns home with a chance to lock their NCAA bid tonight against No. 1 Virginia at 8pm on the ACC Network.
Louisville’s struggles against Virginia are well-documented. Louisville’s last contest against the Cavaliers was actually the Cards first time scoring 60 points against UVA since joining the ACC. The Cards played very well in that game, and it still wasn’t close to enough that night. Virginia’s defense is intimidating, their offense is methodical and patient, and their ability to find the good shot and knock it down despite successful closeouts make them nearly impossible to beat in the regular season. For Louisville, at least.
Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy torched the Cards in the first matchup of these two teams. As I mentioned, their shooters are not typically bothered by a late hand in their face. If Louisville is to win tonight, they’ll have to run these guys off the three-point line.
This game is winnable. Louisville doesn’t have to play a near perfect game, but I do have 3 keys that they must excel at in order to win tonight.
- Defend the three-point line at all times. Make them beat you inside, the Cards need to limit Virginia to 6 threes or fewer.
- Crash the offensive glass. Virginia is not the best rebounding team. Louisville has an advantage on the glass if they can crash without fouling. 2nd chance points are frustrating to opponents and extra possessions are important in order to beat Virginia.
- Dictate the tempo. I understand being patient in the half-court, but the Cards need to push the ball up the floor every chance they get. Attack the middle under control and look to make the extra pass. Don’t let Virginia’s style of play dictate the game.
If Louisville can accomplish those three things, the Cards will win tonight. It’s Senior Night so everyone with tickets better be at the game and loud. Quentin Snider and Anas Mahmoud have given more to this program in their time here than we could possibly thank them for. Make sure they feel loved and appreciated. Thank you to both of them for sticking around through the mess they didn’t cause and always making me proud to be a Louisville fan.
Louisville 62 – Virginia 58.
Down 28-18, it felt as though the Cards had dug themselves another hole too deep to climb out of. Thanks to the efforts of Snider, Spalding, Sutton, Adel and Perry, the Cards fought back and earned a huge road victory by a final score of 75-68 over Virginia Tech.
This win served many purposes. The Cards climbed the ACC standings with the win, earned a much needed victory on the road, persevered through a tumultuous situation in a hostile environment and threw their names back into the NCAA tournament (for now).
Louisville was led by Quentin Snider’s 22 points (7 threes), 6 assists and 6 rebounds. Dwayne Sutton earned his first start and made the most of it with 17 points and 11 rebounds to go along with stellar hustle and defense. Sutton was the X-factor today. Ray Spalding had some monstrous dunks within his 12 point and 7 rebound performance. Deng Adel didn’t shoot the ball well today..at all. However, Deng had a huge impact on the game with a near triple-double of 10 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. Darius Perry also played some great defense with a lot of his usual intensity and hit a huge 3 late in the game. He finished with 8 points.
This win couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s been a long week, the Cards desperately needed a win, and this placed the Cards back in the talk for the 4-seed in the ACC tournament. Great win, brag about it all day.
Up next: the Cards host Virginia on March 1st at 8pm.
Looking to solidify their tournament bid, Louisville travels to Virginia Tech to take on the Hokies at 1pm on CBS.
The last time these two teams met, Louisville won in the Yum! Center by a score of 94-86. As far as tomorrow goes, if Louisville gives up 86 points the outcome will not favor the Cards. Louisville’s offense has looked stagnant and forced, while their defense has been shotty (no, not a typo) at best.
Louisville desperately needs to win this game, for many reasons. The Cardinals are searching for answers, while most teams are hitting their stride – time is running out. With 3 games left, Louisville finds itself at 18-10 searching to get to the 20-win mark for bid assurance.
I appreciate this team very much. They’ve paid for many mistakes they didn’t commit and are still fighting despite the odds being stacked against them. After this game, Louisville will be back on track with a solid road win.
Louisville 85 – Virginia Tech 79
The 2nd leg of Louisville’s pivotal 5-game stretch starts at 9pm tonight at Duke and can be seen on ESPN. Duke currently sits as an 11.5-point favorite.
For the last 3 games, Duke has been without star freshman, Marvin Bagley III. As of now, there is no official word on whether he will play or not, but either way this Duke team is one of, if not the most talented team in the country. Everyone knows who Grayson Allen is, shutting him down is obviously priority number 1. Coach K has also perfected Calipari’s one-and-done and replenished his freshman class with studs. Bagley headlines this year’s class, but Trevon Duval and Wendell Carter Jr. have been great this year as well.
Louisville missed a good opportunity to get a win at home against UNC. Entering this stretch, 3-2 was my goal for this team. That goal became a lot harder with the UNC loss and now Louisville will have to win either at Duke tonight or at home against Virginia to get the big win they need before the ACC tournament starts.
I have a good feeling about tonight’s game. I think we’ll see a sense of urgency from the guys and they’ll give Duke all they can handle. The game will come down to the last few minutes and Louisville could win, but Duke will close the game with free throws. I’ve been wrong before, and I hope I am again tonight.
Louisville 76 – Duke 81
Louisville kicks off their crucial 5-game stretch tonight against visiting No. 14 North Carolina at 8:15pm on ESPN. The Cardinals currently sit as 1-point favorites.
North Carolina is led by Joel Berry, Theo Pinson, and Luke Maye. All three players had major roles in last year’s title run for UNC so experience definitely favors the Tar Heels. UNC also rebounds and passes the ball well. Louisville will have to crash the boards and disrupt some passing lanes in order to knock off the Tar Heels.
Louisville enters the last 5 games of their schedule needing to go 3-2. Three of the next 5 games come against highly ranked opponents in UNC, at Duke, and Virginia. Louisville needs to win one of those three and tonight’s game seems to be the most winnable. If the Cards win tonight, 4-1 is possible if they can knock off Duke or Virginia. If the Cards lose, they’ll have two more chances to grab a marquee victory, but they’ll likely be more difficult than tonight. The Cards get it done tonight and take a big step forward.
Louisville 80 – North Carolina 75