LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Every football program needs a ray or two of sunshine now and again. For the Louisville football team, it’s coming in the form preseason All-American Jaire Alexander and one unusual element: rain.
The Cardinals are coming off a tough loss at NC State, with a stout defensive team in Boston College in waiting. Louisville has spent plenty of time since the Thursday night contest watching film and working in practice to correct those mistakes.
Practice wasn’t going to be easy, especially given the forecast, but that didn’t stop the Cardinals from picking up momentum heading into another league contest.
The football season is at the halfway point. The Cards are 4-2 and still have 6 very winnable games remaining in the regular season. I think it’s time to look back at some of CSZ’s best photo’s from this season including a few from media day. Enjoy… Read the rest of this entry
Full photo gallery will be posted within the next few days. Until then, enjoy these pics from the victory over Kent State.
I can finally breathe. We pull out a win vs a team we should’ve destroyed and it is all due to overconfidence imo. The things we did wrong are very fixable. They’ve been working all summer so why do they need to be fixed? You might say. Playing against another team is different from playing against your own in practice. I sat down to write this story and I was like crap, i am not good at breakdowns, that’s Mitch &JK thing. Since my entire team went to Indianapolis for the game & are probably passed out somewhere I decide to give it a shot. I would not call it a recap though but I will call it a summary. Here are my takeaways (Honorary Tax Boy) from tonight’s game…
- Lamar picked up where he left off amassing 485 yards & 2TD
- Center struggled hearing count but all in all not a bad night from the O-Line
- You can work on the penalties we had, most were due to inexperience
- There was no rushing game except from Lamar BUT he made the right decisions/reads on when to hand off or keep
- Lamar’s accuracy looks improved
- Special teams were a few blocks away from blowing this game open, that too can be worked on
- 1-0 is 1-0
- The Tax Boys came to collect on that a** tonight, Should’ve called them the IRS instead
- Defense Wins Championships
- Hopefully J’aire is out a week max and is back for Clemson
- D-Line got little to no penetration (giggety) until Purdue fatigued, this needs to change
- Need to secure the ball better. The turnovers were preventable and this game could’ve, should’ve been out of hand
- STOP FAVORING US BY LARGE MARGINS VEGAS!!!
- Dez is gonna be a star. They keep doubling Jaylen & Dez gonna make them pay…
- For the love of God Louisville Twitter stop overreacting, that is what use to set us apart from uk fans. Use to…..
- WR made a few erroes but looked like they were seeing the ball well and making effortless catches. As a former TE I like to see that.
- We marched into a difficult city & Stadium for us to win in and turned Indianapolis into Windianapolis
That is all for my account of tonight’s game. Thanks for reading.
Go Cards, Beat The Tar Heels
P.S.-Don’t Forget to check CSZ tomorrow for Photo Galleries from the staff! Jeff Nunn was on the field for this one.
Click on more below for Stats
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The importance of special teams can never be underestimated. Football games can be won – and lost – because of poor execution or critical mistakes in that phase of the game.
Heading into last season, there were many questions surrounding the special teams unit at the University of Louisville, with no experience returning at the punter or placekicker positions.
Those questions were answered immediately with the emergence of punter Mason King and kicker Blanton Creque – a pair of Kentucky natives.
Despite their lack of playing, the duo stepped in and calmed the nerves of the coaching staff by making this unit a strength of the team.
King, who hails from Louisville, never took a snap during the regular season until he punted in the season opener versus Charlotte. Even as newcomer, King emerged as the punter of the future, setting a school mark for punting average at 43.9 yards per boot.
Despite a 37.5 yards average in his first game, King continued to improve as the season went on, averaging over 40.0 yards a punt in seven games, including a 48.0 yards average in Death Valley versus Clemson and 49.3 yards a punt against Kentucky.
“I look back at all the work I put in, and Austin Johnson challenges me every day in practice,” King said, “which has made me a better punter. We challenge each other every practice and that’s what helps us kick so well.”
With all the success that King enjoyed last season, his biggest accomplishment is the fact that he was voted as one of the team’s seven captains last weekend. The St. Xavier High product, King and Devante Peete were named to lead the special teams.
“To be named a captain is an absolute honor,” King said after Wednesday’s practice. “To know that the players voted for me is an absolute honor to go out there, and I’m going to take advantage of that opportunity and let them know how valuable special teams are.
“I’m so excited for this season, especially after being named captain, which is something I never dreamed of.”
Creque took over the placekicking duties in the fourth game of the season, and never relinquished his starting opportunity, hitting 16-of-19 attempts – tied for the third-most in school history.
After missing one of his first two career attempts, Creque went on to connect on 10 straight, including tying a school record with four field goals in a win over NC State. He closed the year by going 3-for-3 in the Citrus Bowl loss to LSU, including hitting a career-best 47-yarder in the 29-9 loss.
“I had to make that jump last year, Creque said. “After a few games, I was able to zone in and treat every kick the same. In practice, I visualized that every kick I took was a kick in the game. My second game kicking was Clemson, so anything after that really didn’t faze me.”
There wasn’t a lot that Creque needed to improve on after missing three kicks all of last season, but he did need to figure out how to extend the ball to the end zone on his kickoffs.
“My kickoffs have been a big focus for me this offseason,” Creque said. “Right now in camp, I’m trying to make every kick. I’ve gotten stronger, which has been a big help for this so far during camp.”
Head coach Bobby Petrino spends a lot of time in practice focusing on special teams, which has paid off on game day, and Creque thinks the Cardinals will be even better this season.
“We are so deep this year,” Creque said, “that we will have a lot of guys playing on special teams. We emphasize it a lot in practice. The more time you spend on it, the better you will be. I think we have a chance to be very good on special teams this year.”
Last Season: After losing both their kicker and punter due to graduation, the Louisville special teams needed new faces at those positions. Mason King took over duties as the team’s new starting punter, while Evan O’Hara and Blanton Creque split duties as the starting kicker throughout the season.
King had a solid season as a freshman, finishing in the top 20 in average yards per punt. The St. Xavier alum was the only freshman in the country to be in the top 20 in punting.
Blanton Creque finished 16/19 on the season, with a season-long of 47 yards against LSU in the Citrus Bowl. Creque took over after the Florida State game last year, also hitting 39 of 40 extra-point attempts.
In the return game, Jaire Alexander proved why he is one of the most dangerous returners in college football. The sophomore had a punt return for a touchdown against Florida State last season, and nearly had a second in the same game. Alexander finished in the top 15 in average yards per return in 2016.
Projected Starters: Mitch Hall (long snapper), Blanton Creque (kicker), Mason King (punter), Jaire Alexander (punt returner), Cornelius Sturghill & Traveon Samuel (kick returner)
With Colin Holba going to the NFL, Louisville recruited All-American Mitch Hall to replace him. Hall played in the Army All-American game last January, and was regarded as one of the best long snappers in high school last year. He’ll likely start at long snapper this year, giving the Cardinals a potential four-year starter at the position.
The rest of the starters will likely remain the same. Creque and King will likely retain their roles as starting kicker and punter, respectively. King showed improvement as the season progressed; he averaged 40.23 yards per punt in his first six games, and upped it to 46.11 yards in the final seven games of the season.
Creque took over duties in mid-September and had a decent season, mostly hitting field goals inside of 45 yards. U of L did not allow a kickoff or punt return touchdown in 2016, but the Cardinals were 111th in touchbacks last year (11 total), and did not attempt a field goal of 50+ yards.
Moving to the other side of special teams, Alexander will be the main figure at punt returner. Holding the position since his arrival in 2015, he only has one touchdown so far, but has come close to scoring a couple more and has been Louisville’s best special teams ace since Trent Guy.
In this ten-part series, we look at the starters and key players for each position. Starting today, we cover the special teams guys with kickers and punters.
Last Season: John Wallace was 15-of-21 last season, but missed two crucial late game field goals that would have tied the game against Houston and Clemson. He had a season-long of 50 yards and came close to hitting a 61-yard field goal against Auburn in the season opener. Wallace would sign an undrafted free agent deal with the Washington Redskins after completing his eligibility last season.
Josh Appleby received praise as a false Heisman hopeful and fan favorite, while averaging roughly 41 yards per punt and landing 28-of-69 inside the 20-yard line.