Kentucky Football: Louisville Cardinals Rip Wildcat Defense, Win Opener 32-14

Nick Nafpliotis@@NickNafster79Correspondent ISeptember 2, 2012

LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 02:  Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Louisville Cardinals throws a pass during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on September 2, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville won 32-14.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Charlie Strong used his team's first offensive drive to make sure it was known that the Cardinals had absolutely no respect for the University of Kentucky Wildcats' defensive unit. A decision to go for it on fourth down inside the 10-yard line (which was successful) and a two-point conversion attempt after the game's first touchdown (which was also successful) were just two of what would end up being many examples that proved just how right he was.

While Kentucky's offense look much improved from last season, Rick Minter's defense was shredded repeatedly on long, bruising drives that nearly always ended with a Cardinals touchdown.


The Good

  • It seems that new WR coach Pat Washington has found a way get the receiving corps to stop being allergic to the football. While we didn't see much downfield passing at all, Kentucky receivers and running backs were actually able to hold onto the ball and make decent gains throughout the game. It also helped that Maxwell Smith usually threw the ball right where it needed to be.
  • Speaking of Smith, his improved pocket presence and ability to read the defense was a welcome change from Newton's bewildered looking performances from the beginning of last year. He ended up going 35-50 for 280 yards and two touchdowns. While Smith's yards-per-completion average won't having anyone clamoring to make him a Heisman candidate, he showed a great deal of promise in an otherwise bleak performance for the Wildcats.
  • Kentucky showed a willingness to take a few risks, including a successful onside kick to start the second half (which resulted in a missed field goal). The Wildcats also tried a fake punt in the third quarter, but a missed block (and a missed face mask call) resulted in the Wildcats turning the ball over to the Cardinals on downs.
  • Landon Foster had two punts for 88 yards, continuing the recent tradition of Kentucky having a world-class punter...which it looks like it will once again sorely need.


The Bad

  • The defense was absolutely terrible. For those of you that remember the Hal Mumme days, this defense might actually be worse...a lot worse.
  • Louisville began the game with three drives of 99, 85 and 93 yards, all of which resulted in touchdowns.
  • Louisville ran for 225 yards and averaged a little over five yards per carry.
  • Not to be outdone on the ground, Cardinal quarterback Terry Bridgewater was went 19-21 for 232 yards through the air.
  • The defensive line, which was thought to be the strength of this year's team, got virtually no pressure on Bridgewater.... 
  • ...although to be fair, part of that was because it often only rushed three players. But somehow with eight players in coverage, Louisville receivers were often wide open and able to pick up large amounts of yardage after the catch.
  • While most people would say that Danny Trevathan was the biggest loss from last year's defensive unit, Matt Jones of Kentucky sports radio pointed out that Winston Guy's absence seemed to be felt the most. His linebacker/safety hybrid position, which is the key component of Minter's defensive scheme, was played by sophomore Miles Simpson, who had an absolutely terrible game.
  • Jen Smith of the Lexington Herald-Leader tweeted out an incredibly depressing stat: In last year's game, Louisville rolled up 377 yards against the Wildcats. Today, the Cardinals had 438 yards through three quarters.
  • Despite how terrible the defense played, the Cats somehow still had multiple opportunities to claw their way back into the game. Unfortunately, they killed them with two fumbles inside their own territory.
  • Craig McIntosh missed a field goal.


The Weird

  • Once again, Craig McIntosh missed a field goal. That cannot be a good omen of things to come.
  • With 2:43 to go in the third quarter and the game still in doubt (surprisingly), Charlie Strong sat Bridgewater and put in senior Will Stein at quarterback.
  • Some forecasts predicted torrential downpours throughout the game, but the only thing raining steadily were points from the Cardinals offense (Yeah, I know it was a bad pun. Humor me in this time of despair).
  • Morgan Newton was brought in during the second quarter to run the Wildcat. He picked up a few yards and fumbled (just like old times).


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