By Josh Cook
Down! Set! Hike!
Here is quick look back at the weekend that was for the University of Louisville football team.
Wow! That’s all you can say about UofL’s 56-0 mauling of Memphis on Saturday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Either the Cardinals were very good, or the Tigers are really bad. Actually it was probably a combination of both.
Senior quarterback Adam Froman threw four first-half touchdown passes - he had only six all of last season - as UofL built a 35-0 halftime lead. Not to be outdone senior Bilal Powell rushed for a career-high 204 yards and two touchdowns as the Cards dominated the line of scrimmage. UofL rolled up 574 yards of total offense, just 1 yard less than they had in its previous game against Arkansas State. Unlike that game, though, the Cards built a big lead and didn’t let up.
UofL’s defense dominated Memphis, which came in with one of the worst statistical offenses in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Cards held the Tigers to 223 yards of total offense, including only 85 in the second half, as they posted the program’s first shutout since 2006 and the first under first-year coach Charlie Strong.
Junior wide receiver Josh Bellamy had a big game, hauling in six passes for 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
And you know it’s a good signs when the second-string guys start coming in in the third quarter. Backup quarterback Justin Burke completed 5 of 6 passes for 40 yards and a touchdown, while Jeremy Wright rushed seven times for 58 yards and a score.
TOP 3 PLAYS
1. The Cards dipped into their bag of tricks for their second touchdown. On first offensive play of the period, on first-and-10 at the Memphis, UofL lined up in its “Wildcard” formation with Powell at quarterback. Powell took the shotgun, then handed off to Vic Anderson as he ran to his right. Anderson flipped the ball to Froman, who had lined up at wide receiver on the play, and the Cards’ QB found a wide, wide open Josh Chichester for a 48-yard touchdown.
2. Powell’s 74-yard TD run was UofL’s only non-passing TD of the first half, but it was a good one. On first-and-10 from his own 26 - and on the first play after a Memphis punt - Powell took the hand off from Froman and broke to his left. He continued that way upfield before cutting back to his right, and across the field. That gave him plenty of running room and a clear path to the end zone.
3. On first-and-10 at the Memphis 28 Froman threw to the end zone, where Bellamy went up and over Memphis defensive back Mohammed Seisay to make a spectacular touchdown catch.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND
“We can get a lot better,” Strong said. “I always tell the guys we are just scratching the surface. We can play much harder and we can play much better than what we have shown.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND II
“I don’t think we played in the second or third quarter of this game,” Memphis coach Larry Porter said.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND
Four hundred, nineteen and 611. Memphis punter Tom Hornsey and UofL kicker Chris Philpott were two busy men Saturday afternoon. Hornsey had 10 punts for 419 yards, while Philpott had nine kickoffs for 611 yards - that‘s all you need to know about this game. Philpott also converted all eight of his PAT attempts.
Offensive player of the week - This has to be a tie between Froman and Powell, there’s just no way around it. Those two guys played their best games of the season, maybe of their careers.
Defensive player of the week - Running back-turned-cornerback Darius Ashley had his best game in the defensive backfield Saturday. Ashley led the Cards with 6 ½ tackles, including a pair of sacks.
FIVE THINGS I THINK
1. It’s unbelievable the difference - both on the field and in the attitude - of this team between last year and this year.
2. Froman gets my vote for Most Improved Player.
3. Ashley gets my vote for Comeback Player of the Year.
4. I think Bellamy is going to have a great two years in a Louisville uniform.
5. If UofL can run the ball like it has been the Cards have a chance to win their Big East opener Friday night against Cincinnati. But right now I like the Bearcats 24-20.