The Confidential

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Card Nation Address

Hello my fellow Louisville and college sports fans. The state of Card Nation can be described in one word, hopeful. Besides scoring enough style points this Cardinal football team has done all that they can do. They are 5-0 and currently ranked 8th in the country. All of this is pretty incredible considering that just four years ago they were struggling just to make a bowl game. It’s been a rapid climb back to the top, thanks to coach Strong. Cards fans came into this season with a shot at the national championship dancing in their heads, so where do they stand after week six?

 

We knew the Cards were along shot for a title shot and that their destiny wasn’t solely in their own hands. That they would need help from their scheduled teams, from their conference and that they would need teams ahead of them to lose. So far none of this has happened. The American Conference (AAC) has been worse than expected, who knew that was possible. The two best teams the Cards have played are Kentucky and Ohio. It’s understandable to wonder what if Ohio State had balls and chose to play the Cards instead of San Diego St? Or what if ESPN could have swooped Virginia Tech for the Cards in the opener against Alabama? What if the Big East didn’t fall apart and West Virginia and TCU was still on the schedule? There’s a lot of ifs and buts about the schedule but it is what it is.

So why do I describe Card Nation as hopeful? There are some positives to look forward to.  Besides joining the ACC next season and having teams such as Florida St, Clemson, Miami and Notre Dame on the schedule and opening the 2015 season against Auburn, there are some positives for this season as well. The Cards have the best conference teams ahead of them yet so the schedule will get more difficult, starting this Thursday night against Rutgers (4-1 1-0) at home. On 10-18 Central Florida (4-1 1-0) visits Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. On 11-16 Houston (4-0 1-0) comes to town before the Cards finish the season at Cincinnati (3-2 0-1).

A shot at the national championship may be out of their reach but a second straight BCS Bowl bid, third overall, is well within their grasp. Current projections include Florida State in the Orange, Baylor in the Fiesta and South Carolina in the Sugar. One can’t discount the Rose just yet either. Since the Cards defeated Alabama in the Fiesta back in the 90’s, pre BCS era, the Rose remains the only BCS caliber bowl that they haven’t won.

If the Cards can’t play for the championship then we still have a couple of ACC teams to pull for. The current BCS projections has two ACC teams ranked in the top six. Alabama has a solid lock on the top spot but what happens when/if they lose? Here are the BCS projected top ten according to BCSGuru.com.

1 Alabama 0.9980, 2 Oregon 0.9107, 3 Clemson 0.8750, 4 Stanford 0.8661, 5 Ohio State 0.7804, 6 Florida St 0.7704, 7 Georgia 0.7671, 8 Oklahoma 0.6502, 9 Louisville 0.6191, 10 LSU 0.6111

The actual BCS rankings will be released after week 7.

Here are the current AAC standings

1 Louisville 5-0 1-0

2 Houston 4-0 1-0

3 Rutgers 4-1 1-0 (beat Arkansas)

4 Central Fla 4-1 1-0 (beat Penn St, lost to South Carolina)

5 USF 1-4 1-0

6 UConn 0-4 0-0

7 Cincinnati 3-2 0-1

8 Memphis 1-3 0-1

9 SMU 1-4 0-1 (Louisville does not play this year, 8 game schedule)

10 Temple 0-5 0-2

Clemson and FSU will set Reputation of ACC for 2013

I can hear the comments now from the four letter network’s talking heads: “The ACC loses more BCS conference match ups….”  The presumption is that the ACC is a weak football conference if they lose lopsided match ups like unranked Virginia Tech vs. #1 Alabama.  I’m not convinced.  Conferences should not be judged by the performance of middle or bottom tier teams.  Would an Illinois victory over Kentucky indicate that the Big 10 is a better conference than the SEC?  No way.

The biggest game this weekend for the ACC is Clemson vs. Georgia.  As a matter of fact, it is the only game that really matters on the national front.

A Clemson victory would likely catapult them into the Top 5, put them in the national title conversation, and set up a nationally relevant game against Florida State on October 18th.  Florida State, the other ranked ACC team, has it’s own responsibility for carrying the ACC flag.  The Noles need to win their games against inferior competition and continue their presence near the Top 10 for a majority of the season.

How many years has it been since an ACC football team has been in the national title conversation in November?  It’s up to you Clemson and Florida State to buck the trend.

Non-Conference Schedule

How many non-conference ranked opponents will be played by conferences this year?

ACC:  11

Big 12: 2

Big 10: 4

Pac 12:  8

SEC:  who cares

Winston Debut

As Florida State finishes up preparations for the Pittsburgh Panthers, most fans are eagerly anticipating the debut of freshman QB Jameis Winston.  Winston has generated a significant amount of hype since his MVP winning Elite 11 camp in 2011.  The hype reached epic proportions after Winston’s spring game performance highlighted by a 58 yd strike against All-ACC conference corner Lamarcus Joyner.

Louisville 2013 Football Preview

The Louisville Cardinals come into the 2013 football season with a top 10 ranking and lofty expectations after their stunning upset of #3 Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Being the favorite in all of their games has the fans dreaming of an undefeated season and a possible shot at the national championship. Perhaps their biggest challenge will be overcoming complacency. To help keep the team focus they will wear wristbands that say “earn it”. Earn it has been often mentioned during August camp and the players seem to be buying in, some even turning away from the social media. To give them more drive and focus is the lingering memory of their two upset loses last season to Syracuse and UConn. With only a few starters missing from last year team the 2013 Cardinals should be even better. Read more…

Pitt 2013 Football Preview

Its time! The college football season will be here soon and we wont have to rely on MLB or ESPNs replays of games from last season to get our sports fix. It is, thank God, the FINAL year of the BCS and the year when we get to see the on the field effect of conference realignment. The ACC welcomes Pitt, Syracuse and Notre Dame into the conference, well most of Notre Dame. Lets take a look at the Pitt Panthers.

Just like last season, the last few years has been a roller coaster ride for the Panthers football team. Through all the coaching changes Paul Chryst is ready for his second year as head coach. Pitt finished last season 6-7 (3-4 in the Big East) and with a loss to Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl 38-17. The lows began with a loss to Youngstown St of the FCS 31-27 but they rebounded to beat Virginia Tech and then #19 Rutgers. There was also a couple of heartbreaking losses as well, a 1 point loss to Syracuse and a 3 overtime loss to the eventual national runner-up Notre Dame. Can Pitt steady the ride in 2013?

 

This will be the first time in four years that they will not be playing in a new system but they will be playing in a new conference. One of the glaring stats from last season that most be improved on is sacks allowed, they gave up 38 and were last in the Big East. Some bright spots from last season was their BE leading 10 turnovers and their 52.5% opponent TD rate in the red zone.

Pitt will have 13 returning starters (5 offense & 8 defense) but will be without QB Tino Sunseri, RB Ray Graham and RB Rushell Shell. Key returners are S Jason Hendricks (90 tackles 6 Int.), DT Aaron Donald (64 tackles 18.5 TFL 5.5 sacks), LB Todd Thomas (59 tackles) and WR Devin Street (73 Rec.). They are also bringing in a solid recruiting class that features OT Dorian Johnson, WR Tyler Boyd, QB TraVon Chapman and DT Tyrique Jarrett.

Finding reliable starters at QB and at RB will be crucial for the Panthers but they have alternatives. At QB will be ether redshirt freshman Chad Voytik or senior Tom Savage. With TraVon they should have 3 quality QB to chose from. Isaac Bennett appears to be poised as the starting RB after a solid preseason game. Malcolm Crocket and Desmond Brown would be his backups. This trio combined for only 41 carries in 2012. With the questions at QB and RB and with the loss of their #2 receiver, the offense looks to be the weakness of the team.

Tom Savage is 6-5 and has a strong arm but he hasn’t played since 2010 with Rutgers. At Rutgers he was a freshman All-American but struggled during his sophomore year. He is 192-368 for 2732 yds with 16 TD for his career. He led Rutgers to a 45-24 victory against UCF in the 2009 St. Petersburg Bowl in his freshman year. After a falling out with the Rutgers coaching staff he transferred to Arizona but came to Pitt instead after a coaching change at Arizona. This will be his last year of eligibility. He was a 5 star recruit coming out of high school.

The defense is the clear strength of this team as they return 7 of their top 8 tacklers and return their top leaders in INT and sacks. Donald and Hendricks are hyped as preseason All-Conference selections.

Following a tough season opener against Florida St. the schedule could be set up to allow them to get their feet set under them during the first part of the year before ending with 5 tough games. The key to a successful 2013 for Pitt will be finding a QB and RB to step up and take control of the starting position. If this happens then an 8 win season is certainly possible but I will predict them to finish 7-5 (4-4) and in the mid pack of the ACC, which is certainly a good accomplishment in the tougher conference.

Here is a look at the Pitt 2013 football schedule;

Sept 2 Florida St              its hard to pick against FSU here.

Sept 14 New Mexico      should be the start of a winning streak.

Sept 21 @ Duke              the Pitt defense should be enough to get the W.

Sept 28 Virginia              playing at home gives the Panthers the edge.

Oct  12 @ Virginia Tech VT gets revenge from last season at home.

Oct  19 Old Dominion   Pitt will need to avoid a Youngstown St repeat.

Oct  26 @ Navy               A must win game for Pitt.

Nov  2 @ Georgia Tech  GT playing at home gives them the edge.

Nov 9 Notre Dame         ND will be favored.

Nov 16 N Carolina          Pitt has the home field advantage here.

Nov 23 @ Syracuse        A possible W and will be needed to reach 8 on the year

Nov 29 Miami                another crucial game for Pitt to get 8.

ACC Lacrosse and the 6th team

There is little doubt that the ACC is the elite conference in lacrosse, placing a current member in the championship game 12 times since 2000, so an automatic birth into the tournament isn’t a necessity but would be a nice luxury to have. With Maryland departure in 2014 they will need to find a 6th team to go along with Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Syracuse and Notre Dame but who that will be is anyone’s guess. There are several candidates within the ACC of who can fill this role with each bringing different arguments as to why they are the better choice. With lacrosse exploding at the high school level in Florida makes Florida St and Miami logical candidates. Massachusetts is a lacrosse hot bed and Boston College played in the ACC before going to the MCLA. A case could be made for NC State and Clemson as well but perhaps the front runner for the 6th spot is the ACC-to-be Louisville Cardinals with their thriving athletic program. Typically sports fans associate Louisville with basketball and football and not lacrosse, so why Louisville?

Read more…

Maryland vs Louisville: Is It Academics vs Athletics?

When Maryland leaves for the B1G in July 2014 the ACC will no doubt lose an excellent academic institution and a founding member. A lot has already been discussed on this topic but what will the ACC actually gain and lose when the University of Louisville comes in as their replacement? What are the real athletic and academic differences between the two schools?

Read more…

Report CARD: Recruiting

Louisville Cardinals athletic logo

Louisville Cardinals athletic logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

July 1st brings in a new era for the ACC as Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame officially join the conference. It also is the dawning of a new conference, the American Athletic Conference. I hope Commissioner Aresco pardons Louisville fans for not greeting this day with applause and cheers. What we will relish is one final year with two old rivals in Cincinnati and Memphis.

Last week I took a look into the Louisville Cardinals future, their 2014 football recruiting class. Over the course of last week it has changed as the Cards received seven commitments in five days, it was truly a busy week. The week started with the news that Detrick Dukes switched his commitment to his home state Georgia Bulldogs but this bad news was short lived as the new commitments began to trickle in. Read more…

Louisville 2014 Football Recruiting Update

With the Louisville Cardinals historical 2012-13 year coming to an end with a disappointing CWS performance its time to start looking ahead. Before we focus in on the 2013 football season lets jump ahead a bit. It’s still early in the 2014 recruiting process but the Cardinals are putting together one of their best classes ever. Louisville first ACC class brought in 15 commitments already, a number that is highly unusual for them. ESPN, Scout and Rivals are still evaluating the 2014 class and as the athletes compete in their senior season there will be many changes in the rankings. Even though its still early, lets take a look at some of the Cards top commits. Read more…

Louisville Sweeps Vandy, ACC in CWS

Read more…

Louisville ACC Football Schedule/ Kevin Ware Update

For all those Cardinals fans who look at the upcoming football schedule and yawns, you should take the opportunity to take a breath. When Louisville joins the ACC in 2014 the football schedule is going to be unbelievable. While the 2013 schedule lacks the marquee names the 2014 schedule and beyond are full of them.

Read more…

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