The Louisville Cardinals football team, fresh off of their Sugar Bowl victory over Florida, are entering the 2013 season with high expectations. They have a potential Heisman winner at quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and a fiery head coach in Charlie Strong. They are viewed by many to be among the top 10 teams in the nation heading into the spring.
So, to pop the top on what should be a fantastic season, the Cardinals are planning to entice fans to come to Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium by selling $1 beers during its annual Spring Game on April 13. That’s right. I said $1 beer. The brew will be available both in and outside of the stadium for that price during the day.
An estimated crowd of 15,000 was on hand for last season’s rain-soaked affair.
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles taking on the University of Louisville Cardinals in the 3rd annual St. Petersburg Bowl but first under the sponsorship of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s at Tropicana Field.
Southern Miss, 8-4, 5-3 C-USA, is making a postseason appearance for the ninth straight season with a team that racked up eight wins this year but their year began and ended the same way, with a loss. After falling to South Carolina in their opener, the Golden Eagles responded with four straight wins. However, the regular season closed out with a 56-50 loss to Tulsa.
The Golden Eagles are no strangers to playing in bowls, having made a postseason showing in 12 of the last 13 years but head coach Larry Fedora has an offense that is very potent on the ground and through the air this year. Taking care of the passing attack is Austin Davis, who completed over 60 percent of his throws this season and averaged 241.5 ypg. He threw for 18 touchdowns while tossing only 6 interceptions. Johdrick Morris was Davis favorite target with his team best 46 receptions for 663 yards and it came from the tight end spot.
There is not one main option that Southern Miss relies on in the ground game that produced 203.4 ypg. The running game showcased a few talented backs like Kendrick Hardy, who ran for 855 yards and 7 touchdowns while Desmond Johnson, had 509 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Louisville, 6-6, 3-4 Big East, head coach Charlie Strong did not have an overly impressive inaugural season, but still claimed Co-Coach of the Year honors in the Big East along with Connecticut’s Randy Edsall. The Cardinals have the potential on the roster to possess a balanced attack, but that was not the case, who fell way short of expectations in 2010. A major reason for the team’s short-comings was due to injuries to a couple of key players in Bilal Powell and Adam Froman. Powell only missed one game on the year, but spent most of the season dealing with nagging injures. However, that did not stop the running back from rumbling for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns on 6.3 yards per attempt.
Froman’s injury was much more severe, and kept the quarterback from competing in four games, while limiting him in other key matchups. In eight games Froman completed over 60 percent of his throws and tossed 11 touchdowns against 4 interceptions. However, in Froman’s absence Justin Burke, performed admirably throwing 8 touchdowns and completed 56.7 percent of his passes
The former conference rivals are meeting for the first time in the postseason with Southern Miss leading the all-time series 18-9-1. Southern Miss is 9-11 all-time in bowl games and is coming off last years 42-32 loss to Middle Tennessee in the New Orleans Bowl. This will be Louisville’s first postseason appearance since the 2007 Orange Bowl and is 6-7-1 all time in bowl games.
PICK: Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features the University of Cincinnati Bearcats takes on the University of Louisville Cardinals at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Back to back Big East champions, the Bearcats have gotten off to a rocky start under new head coach Butch Jones has already lost three games this season. Cincinnati enters it’s first Big East conference game and it’s on the road, overall the Bearcats are 2-3 on the season. The Bearcats however are coming off just torching their rival Miami-Ohio for a 45-3 victory last weekend.
The Bearcats are still struggling with their offensive line that has already given up a total of 19 sacks on the season and at times looks to be the worst in the nation. Playing behind that horrible offensive line is junior quarterback Zach Collaros, 1180 yards 12 touchdowns 1 INT, who making the most out of every opportunity he has when he is on his two feet. Collaros is completing 63.2 of his throws and often looks cutting across the middle of the field for junior wide receiver D.J. Woods, 489 yards 4 touchdowns, or senior wide receiver Armon Binns, 350 yards 4 touchdowns.
The Bearcats have gotten a recent explosion the running back position with the return of junior back Isaiah Pead, 402 yards one touchdown, who is returning after missing two games with a knee injury. Pead is averaging 9.8 yards per carry since his return for Cincinnati.
Cincinnati is better than their record indicates on defense but there still areas for improvement as they are giving up 267.6 yards per game in the air compared to the 84.8 ypg on the ground. Junior linebacker J.K. Schaffer, 49 tackles, is the one player to pay attention on the defensive side of the ball.
Head coach Charlie Strong is in his first full year of head coaching experiencing after leaving the University of Florida Gators where he served on Urban Meyer’s staff as assistant coach and defensive coordinator. Strong has the Cardinals entering their first Big East conference game with an overall 3-2 record after beating Memphis 56-0, the teams first shutout since they beat Temple in 2006 62-0. The Cardinals two losses on the season have been by just seven points each.
The Cardinals offensive is handled by senior quarterback Adam Froman, 1177 yards 9 touchdowns 4 INTs, as he is completing 59.7 percent of his throws. The Cardinals are blessed though to have Bilal Powell, 689 yards 7 touchdowns, in the backfield where he is averaging 7.6 yards per carry. The team as a whole is producing 218.9 yards per game. Louisville also has nice additions in junior wide receiver Josh Bellamy, 265 yards 4 touchdowns, and senior wide receiver Doug Beaumont, 244 yards 1 touchdown.
Louisville posted its first shutout in four years last week and is really what has gotten the Cardinals off to a good start this season as they are holding teams to just 19 points per game. The Cardinals defense has sacked opposing quarterbacks 18 times this season. Senior defensive end Rodney Gnat, 6.5 sacks, is the star of Louisville’s defense. A nice early standout on the season is sophomore defensive back Darius Ashley.
Cincinnati holds a 27-21-1 lead over Louisville in the all-time series which includes a 41-10 win at home last year.
PICK: University of Cincinnati Bearcats
University of Louisville has hired Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong as its new head coach of football. Strong replaces coach Steve Kragthorpe who was fired on November 28 following three disappointing seasons, including a 4-8 campaign this year.
Louisville went just 15-21 during Kragthorpe’s and it will be Strong’s job to get the Cardinals back to the heights of 2006 when the Cardinals finished 6th in the country and won the Big East and the Orange Bowl.
Strong helped form the Gators into one of the nation’s top defenses as Florida was ranked in the top 20 nationally in 10 statistical categories last season as well as winning its second national title in three years. Strong’s defense has been just as good with the Gators finishing third in the country in scoring defense and fourth in total defense, a stat that the Cardinals finished 67th nationally.
Strong also brings deep recruiting ties within the South an area foreign to Louisville under Kragthorpe. Strong has only had one game of head coaching experience and that came with an interim tag attached to it as he took over for the Gators in the 2004 Peach Bowl after Ron Zook was fired at the end of the regular season. They lost 27-10 to the University of Miami Hurricanes.
The Cardinals finished 4-8 overall and 1-6 in the Big East.
University of Kansas coach Mark Mangino has been fired, since we keep things real here at Sports Grind Entertainment, amid an investigation into his treatment of his players. Mangino leaves with an eight-year record of 50-48, two victories short of A.R. Kennedy’s school record of 52 from 1904-10 but a 23-41 record in the Big 12.
The school launched a probe into Mangino’s treatment of his team after many former players described him as insensitive and making humiliating remarks to them in practice or games. But his biggest down fail was how the Jayhawks performed on the field this year as they won their first five games this year and rising to No. 16 in the rankings then failed to win another game. The Jayhawks finished the season with a loss to archrival Missouri and that kept them from becoming bowl eligible for what would have been a school-record third straight year.
Mangino was voted the nation’s top assistant coach when he was offensive coordinator for Oklahoma’s 2000 national championship team and then came to Kansas in 2002, to a program that had always taken a back seat to basketball. In 2007 Mangino was saved by the play of Todd Reesing who established himself as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks and posted a 12-1 record, beating Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, it was the greatest season in Kansas history. They followed with an 8-5 record and a victory in the Insight Bowl, the first time Kansas had even been to postseason games two years in a row. The 20 wins in two years also was a school record.
Athletic director Lew Perkins made the announcement after meeting with the players to give them the news. The early leading candidate starts with Connecticut coach Randy Edsall, who Perkins worked with when he was athletic director at the school.
Can I suggest Houston’s head coach Kevin Sumlin or Florida’s defensive coordinator Charlie Strong.
The University of Louisville and Virginia will sure atrach coaches looking to move up in the ranks, the job at the University of Akron will sure do the same just for a coach the rest of the nation is yet to hear about and maybe be hearing a lot from in five years.
The University of Akron athletic director Tom Wistrcill announced the firing of coach J.D. Brookhart one day after the Zips defeated Eastern Michigan to finish the season at 3-9.
Wistrcill said in a statement that four-straight seasons with the team finishing below .500 in the Mid-American Conference played into his decision. He said the search for a new coach would begin immediately.
Brookhart was hired in 2004 and posted a 30-42 record at Akron. He was named the MAC Coach of the Year in 2004 and won the program’s only MAC Championship in 2005, defeating Northern Illinois, to earn Akron’s first bowl berth as a Division I program. Brookhart had one year left on his contract worth $245,000.
I don’t perceive Kevin Sumlin to be interested in coaching the Zips but maybe Florida’s defensive cordinator Charlie Strong.
So long Al. just hours after posting the firing of Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe, University of Virginia Cavaliers have decided to do the same to head coach Al Groh from his alma mater after nine seasons.
The writing was on the wall for Groh after the Cavaliers lost to their rival Virgina Tech 42-13 at home, making it the eighth loss in nine tries during Groh’s tenure. The loss dropped the Cavaliers to 3-9 overall and 2-6 in the ACC, marking their worst season since 1982.
Groh was hired in December of 2000, after he had resigned from the head coaching position of the New York Jets after just one season. He replaced George Welsh, who had retired after 19 seasons and only had two lossing seasons during that time.
Groh, 65, went 59-53 overall and 36-36 in conference. He guided the Cavaliers to five bowl gameswas the ACC coach of the year in 2002 and ’07. He had two years remaining on his contract and will receive a buyout of approximately $4.33 million.
Virginia’s decline was felt at home games, where the average attendance for 61,500-seat Scott Stadium had dropped by 13,600 in two seasons.
Can I suggest Houston’s head coach Kevin Sumlin or Florida’s defensive cordinator Charlie Strong.
If you don’t emerse yourself into college football like I do or not a University of Louisville alumni then you probably didn’t notice or care that Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich fired head coach Steve Kragthorpe.
The Kragthorpe firing is the first in Division 1A and will ultimately cause the domino effect amongst the coaching ranks as we head into bowl season. With Jurich having ties to the Mountain West Conference could he lure TCU’s Gary Patterson or Utah’s Kyle Whittingham to a BCS eligible school? Could Houston’s Kevin Sumlin be on the Cardinals radar as I believe he will be the most sought after coach outside of Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh.
Kragthorpe was 15-21 in three seasons at Louisville and the Cardinals finished 1-6 in the Big East (4-8 overall) this season, their second consecutive losing season under Kragthorpe. He had two years remaining on his contract that pays about $1.1 million a year.
In January 2007, Kragthorpe replaced Bobby Petrino, but was unable to match the success UL had under Petrino, which included the 2006 Big East and Orange Bowl championship. Kragthorpe’s best season at UL was his first in 2007, when the Cardinals went 6-6 but did not receive a bowl bid.
The Cardinals struggles have lead to small crowds attending Louisville’s home games, as they saw back to back the smallest crowds in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium history. Louisville is in the midst of expanding its stadium from 42,000 to 55,000 and it’s scheduled to be completed in 2010.
Kragthorpe came to Louisville after three seasons at Tulsa, where he was 29-22 and won the Conference USA title in 2005.
Can I suggest Houston’s head coach Kevin Sumlin or Florida’s defensive cordinator Charlie Strong.