LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Here are some updates, many you may not find at other media outlets and the corporate sites, that are very important for any true Cardinal fan to know.
#20 RS SO Corvin Lamb - Godspeed in your recovery - A very unfortunate torn ACL happened in the Ohio game, and we just found out the extent of the injury today at the Charlie Strong EKU press conference. "We are down to four running backs" Strong stated.
#2 RS JR Michalee Harris - Just needing confidence - Michalee has been plagued with injuries since 2010, and is fully healthy to start 2013. He had one catch for a 2 yard loss vs Ohio and took a hit without incident, but Strong stated that Michalee just needs to get his confidence back. Louisville fans have been waiting for the receiving phenom out of Miami to be fully healthy, and he is. Let's watch Michalee in coming weeks to see how he is progressing with his confidence.
#5 JR QB Teddy Bridgewater - On the new additions to the starting offensive line - I asked Teddy yesterday in our post game interview, how he felt about the offensive line. He stated that he was pleased with his line and their performance. As any real football fan knows, the offense will be lackluster at best without a good offensive line to control the trenches. If the offensive line is not effective, it stops the running game, and the QB always has pressure on him. The offensive line is HUGE in making the offense tick, and the big men who do a lot of work and get no glory, are a keystone in making the offense strong. Teddy has FULL CONFIDENCE in his 2013 offensive line. Give a BIG round of applause to the starting offensive line for the Ohio game: RT Abraham Garcia, RG Chris Acosta, C Jake Smith, LG John Miller and LT Jamon Brown, as well as all the other offensive linemen who make the Louisville offense productive.
#44 JR FB B.J. Butler - His blocking and the impact on his switch to fullback - To the untrained eye, it is hard to see Butler's impact to the offense, now that he is on offense playing fullback, switching from defensive line. At 6-2, 274 lbs., Butler is a tank as a fullback, has sure hands in passing plays, and he is a blocking machine. The next time you watch #44 lined-up on offense, watch him level the defenders on running plays, and protect the QB in passing plays. A beast, and this was a great move by Strong and company to move him to fullback.
#8 RS JR P Ryan Johnson - Louisville, we have found our punter - Louisville has had trouble in the punting department in recent years, but we can lay that to rest now. Johnson, the former Louisville DeSales QB and kicker who led his high school team to the 2A state championship, has settled in as the starting punter. Against Ohio, he BOOMED 2 punts for 95 yards (47.5 yard per punt average), which is astronomical. If Ryan can keep putting up these numbers, it will GREATLY help our defense in having the opposing offenses in bad field position when they start their offensive drives.
#4 RS JR WR Robert Clark and #18 RS JR TE/WR Gerald Christian - The University of Florida transfers - Louisville already has a STACKED receiving core, and this combo who have been teammates since their high school days at William T. Dyer only makes the core deeper. They both were in the same 2010 recruiting class at University of Florida, both were red-shirted in 2010, and they both transferred to Louisville in 2012 and had to sit out to NCAA transfer guidelines. I noticed in the Ohio opener, that Strong and OC Shawn Watson were lining up Clark on the outside and Christian on the inside in offensive sets. Louisville started out the game hitting Ohio with this combo frequently. Both had great games, but Clark had a HUGE TD catch and finished the game with 4 receptions for 43 yards, and also had the longest kick return of the game of 25 yards. With Christian's size at 6-3 242, makes him a viable blocker, and he moves very well for man of his size with great hands and footwork. Watch out for these two studs out of Florida.
#13 SO LB James Burgess - Hard Hittin' James Burgess - Well, we all have seen flashes of greatness from James, especially last season vs UConn where he finished with 10 tackles and a huge interception. James was all over the field like rover against Ohio. Coined as having "a nose for the ball", James finished against Ohio with the best overall game, though he finished second in total tackles to SR LB Preston Brown who had 9 tackles. For the Ohio game, James had 8 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble and 1 break-up. Like I said, all over like rover. Strong and DC Vance Bedford both state that the linebackers are the core of the defense, and the most tackles should come from the linebackers. Our top two tacklers for the Ohio game were linebackers. James' nickname is James "Hard Hittin'" Burgess. If you see this young man lay a hit on the opposing offense, he does not play at all. Not that he is trying to hurt his man, just that James in not into "shoestring tackles" and "arm tackles". He lays a SERIOUS hit. Watch for Burgess to have MANY great overall games this season where he pads the stat sheet in many different areas. With his nose for the ball, hard hits and his mad athleticism, James has emerged as a keystone of the linebacker core.
Kick-off and punt return defense on special teams - Louisville needs to improve on kick-off return defense - Ohio had only one punt return for 10 yards, which is not bad, and that was in part to Louisville's Johnson who we spoke of above booming the 2 punts for 95 yards total. But on kick-off returns, Louisville special teams gave up 124 yards on 5 kick-off returns, with Ohio's longest return being 41 yards. I understand first game jitters, but this is an area that we need to watch for improvement in coming weeks.
13 of 16 in 3rd down conversions - 3rd down, no problem - Louisville's offense converted 13 of 16 3rd down conversions, which is almost unbelievable. Louisville converted on 81% of their 3rd downs. Truly remarkable.