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    Louisville Football Dominates FIU 34-3
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    When you look for football omens, how about a weather delay that puts off the kickoff of the University of Louisville football Cardinals when they visited Florida International University in Miami. Superstition was on the side of the Cardinals as they left The Cage with a victory 34-3.

    For some of the Cards, it was a home game since they have ties to the area when they were recruited by former Louisville coach Charlie Strong. Strong’s own connections in Florida reinvigorated the Cardinal program before he left for the greener pastures of Texas. Current coach Bobby Petrino knew how to use his Floridians in the attack against FIU.

    The lightning finally left the South Florida area and the game got started about 4:40, which was over an hour after it was officially set to begin.

    Because of the wet conditions, Louisville took the kickoff and kept the ball on the ground with Dominique Brown and, in his first action all year, Michael Dyer. His first touch was a short gain but it gave him a chance to get his hands of the ball, move forward and take a hit.

    Meanwhile, when they did go to the air, it was a continuation of the misfires Will Garnder was plagued with in the Virginia game, including pass deflections. He would have to make it work because backup Reggie Bonnafon didn’t make the trip due to the death of his father. In the red zone, Gardner missed an open receiver and lost a fumble. It was the first time the Cardinals didn’t score inside the 20 all season.

    It wasn’t like Gardner had an extended amount of time in the pocket. The Louisville offensive line is still trying to find cohesion. Virginia exposed them the previous week and the Panthers obviously watched the game film because they spent quite a bit of time forcing the Cardinal QB to run out of his comfort zone.

    L.J. Scott dove over the goal line to score the first touchdown of the game, which reinforced the fact that the Cards are loaded at the running back position. He was the fourth back to rush the ball on the opening drive. The running game didn’t factor in as much as you would think on a bad weather day, but it kept the FIU defense honest.

    Then, on their next possession, Louisville started deep in their own territory. For fans, it was a familiar refrain. Oddly, though, because they start so far behind the 8-ball so often, it helps with their time of possession which is a stat most coaches want to dominate. The Cards decided to use James Quick as a kick returner to get their special teams on a better track. Kai De La Cruz doesn’t seem to be working back there.

    At the start of the second quarter, a mini-monsoon arrived. It made the runners harder to tackle for both teams because the footing kept defenders from setting before hitting. On the television broadcast, you could hear the big sheets of water bouncing off their microphones.

    On the times the moisture let up, it wasn’t all that great for FIU. Louisville’s Gerod Holliman intercepted Alex McGough for a 32 yard pick six that put the Cards up by 14 points. To rub it in, it was the longest reception McGough had all first half, all of the yards going the wrong way. And to make it even worse, Holliman intercepted him again on the Panther’s very next play from scrimmage.

    And then Gardner pressed the reset button on himself. Toward the end of the half, Quick snagged a 76 yard TD pass. Moments later, he caught a 37 yard scoring toss. Could Quick be the vertical threat that the Cards have been missing since DeVante Parker went out with an injury? If Gardner could get him the ball, it’s a possibility.

    On the strength of the two Quick touchdowns, Louisville went into the locker room leading 28-3.

    In the second half, Louisville came out on defense with an intensity fans hadn’t seen since the Miami game. B.J. Dubose recovered a McGough fumble on the first series to give the Cards the ball in the red zone. The offense couldn’t convert 6, though, as Gardner took a sack to put the Cards outside the 20 yard line. John Wallace nailed a 40 yard field goal so the team in white came away with some points.

    FIU had to bring in E.J. Hilliard at QB to replace McGough. Hilliard actually started the season for the Panthers before McGough won the starting job so it wasn’t like a green player came into the game. The Cardinal defense would have to stay up, which they did.

    Louisville had a scare midway through the third quarter when Gardner took a roughing the passer foul. He was hit late and below the knees. The knees that Gardner already had braced. He would leave the game and senior Brett Nelson had to come in to replace him. His first pass was nearly a touchdown, but Eli Rogers couldn’t bring it in.

    Nelson didn’t give the game away and freshman Kyle Bplin came in to get some snaps for the Cards, too. It wasn’t going to be the 72 point beatdown from last year, but the Louisville got back on the winning side of the ledger with the victory.

    The Cardinals are back home at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for a 3:30 showdown with Wake Forest on Saturday, September 27.

    Photo by: Max Sharp/Louisville.com
     

    Tim Girton's picture

    About Tim Girton

    Tim Girton writes about University of Louisville sports here at Louisville.com and his love for Louisville continues on his photoblog, called This Is Louisville.

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