I didn’t begin the week intending to write wall-to-wall University of Louisville football. But that’s how it worked out. Of several options, my piece on the rise and fall of Mario Urrutia turned out to be the best one on Tuesday.
On Thursday, it seemed that there was a need to give some perspective to this upcoming game, which, I later found out U of L players themselves are pointing to as a “must win.”
I was talking to a guy yesterday who shook his head and said every other day, it seems I’m writing something negative about U of L football. I suppose this week, he’s been right.
There are plenty of people who would say I have not written things that are negative or critical enough. Others would tell you I’ve become a broken record.
Here’s something you might find interesting.
Nov. 29, 2007.
Any idea of the significance of that date? It’s the last time I wrote a game column after a U of L victory over a Football Bowl Subdivision team. Now a lot of that has just been the luck of the draw, how the games were divided in the preseason.
Still, either I bring colossal bad luck with me when I go to cover U of L football, or over the past nearly two years, I’ve seen a lot of bad football. And you can’t, nor shouldn’t really, do much to dress up the losses.
You’ve got to be fair, but also say what you think. Some will think you’re not going far enough. Some will think you’re being too negative.
But it wasn’t until today, when I realized the last time I’d seen U of L beat an FBS team and written a story about it, that it hit home just how many times I’ve written about U of L losses in the past two years. And when you do that, the resulting copy isn’t always going to be pretty, nor should it be.
As a bonus, just as a reminder of what it feels like to write such a win, here is that column from 2007. I already know that the streak will reach one more week this week. Not because I think U of L will lose, but because Friday is Bozich’s night to write!
In the end, Cards find passion – and the running game
BYLINE: Eric Crawford
Here’s how I will remember Brian Brohm.
With a multi-million-dollar NFL career ahead of him and agents already clamoring for him — some with representatives in attendance last night — Brohm went down on a leg-twisting sack late in the first half of the regular-season finale against Rutgers.
He limped to get the call for the next play, and one play after that he dropped back to find Patrick Carter for a 52-yard touchdown pass.
Brohm pumped his fist and ran straight to the trainers on the sideline. He walked with team doctor Raymond Shea to the medical room in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Fans yelled support to him, but he never looked up, never acknowledged them.
Ten minutes later, he trotted from the medical room into the locker room.
There was no earthly reason for Brohm to come back into last night’s game.
Here’s what I will remember most about Brohm — he came back.
It would’ve been a fine ending, a long touchdown pass on his final play.
But Brohm had a better ending in mind.
Some emotion at the end
Somewhere, a U of L team that has shown little emotion as a disappointing season has progressed found some passion in reserve to storm back for a 41-38 win.
And you can’t tell me that No. 12 coming back to play the second half wouldn’t make every player on that team rev his engine just a little bit.
Brohm didn’t have to finish. But what a finish he provided, along with Harry Douglas who caught the 46-yarder to set up a game-winning field goal and Art Carmody, who kicked that field goal and became the highest-scoring kicker in major-college history with an earlier field goal.
The Cardinals didn’t so much ride Brohm’s arm to victory as they did the legs of Bilal Powell and Brock Bolen.
If anything was learned last night, it’s that this is a different team when it runs the ball and that Powell can really run it. Despite averaging 8.7 yards per carry this season, he had only 11 carries all season before last night. He carried 13 times for 91 yards last night, and Bolen carried 13 times for 117.
But there were other things we learned:
U of L fans have taken some criticism this season, but they showed up on a cold Thursday night for a game with marginal meaning and supported the team. Sure, much of the crowd of 39, 612 left with the Cards trailing 28-17. But it should be noted that last night’s crowd , with a .500 record on the line, was bigger than the crowd that showed up for last year’s home finale with a BCS bid hanging in the balance.
When this team plays with emotion and commits to the power running game, it is effective. When U of L countered Rutgers’ pass rush with the running game, it moved the ball.
This was a season of missed opportunities. It’s hard not to ask where this kind of passion was all season. Or the running game.
In all likelihood, there’s no bowl awaiting the Cardinals. This postseason for U of L might be called the Bitter Recrimination Bowl. There have been rumblings of multiple assistant coaching changes. Kragthorpe, who said this week that off-the-field issues had been a hindrance this season, said he’ll discuss them more specifically after the season.
The remnants of the crowd that spilled onto the field after last night’s victory embraced the seniors and celebrated not so much the 6-6 finish but the character of a senior class that finished as best it could.
The energy that brought the Cardinals back against Rutgers is the energy that will be needed to bring the program back. Consider it a parting gift from a senior class that could’ve packed it in but didn’t and a quarterback who made his final chapter one of his best.