In 2006, after playing our last game of the season at Papa John’s Stadium (getting absolutely annihilated by the, then very talented, Louisville Cardinals), I stood in a locker room full of teary-eyed seniors, angry and disappointed coaches, and a group of underclassmen who knew the future was ours. There were a lot of emotions and words shared that day, but there was one thing that for as long as I’ll live I will never forget. Coach Edsall got up in front of us, after a dismal and frustrating season (4-8) and said, “There will come a time when UConn Football comes to Louisville and wins this game, on the road. We are going to start winning Big East Championships.”
I am the first to admit that at the time, I felt a little awkward hearing this. We had managed only four wins that year and here was our fearless leader telling us we were going to win a Big East title. We were going to beat Top 25 caliber teams on the road.
He. Was. Right.
So before I delve into dissecting the Louisville Game, I’d like everyone to appreciate the foresight and commitment Coach Edsall has shown to this program.
Alright, put your tissues away, and let’s get to it.
I went down in the first quarter (to the delight of their offensive line). They were very talented upfront and of course led by NFL prospect and possibly the top lineman in the nation, Eric Wood (#77). Last year, I absolutely held the crap out of him. It’s unfair, it’s illegal, and it worked. I like to think that I singlehandedly inspired the rule change (this year the refs are determined to crack-down on defensive holding). I told Eric (do you mind if I call you Eric?), I told Eric after the game that I was pissed that I missed my last opportunity to “get after him all year” and he conceded that “man…last year…that sucked” (read that with a slow southern drawl).
I’ll also go out on a limb and say that I don’t think there has been much drop off from Brian Brohm to Hunter Cantwell. He’s a competitor with a lot of poise in the pocket, especially with Julius Williams, Cody Brown, and Lindsey Witten rushing him all night. Although he did look like he had a touch of something that I wouldn’t call “normal brain function.”
So the game wasn’t exactly a shootout, but it wasn’t exactly not, either.
Their rushing game was on point, but I’m hesitant to credit their offensive line as much as I am to say that their backfield is extremely talented. I watched the ESPN broadcast on the flight back (God bless you, JetBlue). In case the ESPN Commentators didn’t realize (which they didn’t), by the second half our defense (specifically, the defensive line), was held together with Scotch Tape and elbow grease. We didn’t travel our starting right DT, I went down in the first quarter (did I forget to mention that?), and then our other rotation guy, Kendall Reyes, goes down as well. Instead of noting that the top 10 run defense in the nation just lost its starting three, all we got was: “Wow, Louisville has really opened up their run game in the second half.” Yeah, no kidding. Dynamite drop-in there, Monty, I can see that broadcasting school really paid off.
The bottom line is this: just as always, our defense stepped it up when it had to.
Lawrence “‘Bama” Wilson takes an INT back 35 yards to the winning TD.
We shut out their offense in the second half.
Jasper “Jazz” Howard + Darius “D-Butt” Butler = Almost not fair.
We won the fourth quarter (something we PRIDE ourselves on).
And how about Downtown Donny Brown? Attention viewers (apparently the 2,000+ of you), get out your Heisman Ballots. 212 net yards, 2 TDs? What more can Brown do for you? (You’re welcome, UPS).
Zach Frazer stepped up in a big way. Someone told me he looked “like freakin’ Montana out there.” Funny you should say that. ‘Cause not only are they both from PA, both attended Notre Dame, but Zach broke all of his high school passing/scoring records. In fact, he also broke Dan Marino’s and Joe Namath’s, too.
We need prayers to go out to Tyler Lorenzen and Steve Brouse. Two seniors, two leaders, two great guys (on AND off the gridiron). Both suffered injuries that may have them fighting to come back before the end of the season.
Also, I need to give a shout out to our crack medical staff: Bob Howard and Brian Gallagher. You see, Brian is like 7 feet tall and lives on a steady diet of government cheese and Diet Dr. Pepper. But, despite his given handicaps, both he and Bob handled the crisis situation that was last night’s game with poise and passion. They did their best to get me back on the field, but alas I had a terrible case of vaginitis. See you in the Swim-Ex, boys!
Some of my “other” thoughts from the game:
You get to notice a lot being on the sideline (actually you notice everything when suffering from ADHD).
Louisville has tremendous time-out entertainment. Guys rolling in plastic balls? Free money for picking up backpacks? A mascot bird logo…with teeth! (I wish he had gold frontz.) Tremendous.
Touching on that, there was a lack of “Gold-Frontage” by players and fans alike. (Insert fans’
missing teeth joke here.) I was more than upset.
Papa John, the real Papa John, was recognized at some point during the game for donating more money (and garlic dipping sauce) to the program. Who cares. Accompanying him were his two daughters, and (much to the dismay of my beautiful girlfriend who is probably reading this) they were hot. Really hot. But maybe it was that I’m kinda fat, and I swear they smelled like pizza sauce. Also, I’d like to meet Mrs. Papa John. Seriously, better ingredients better…offspring? (Okay, I’m sorry.)
We have UNC next week…they are no slouches, and very big upfront. More on that later.
Back to rehab.