Illinois State: Preview

Illinois State (5-1)

When: Saturday, 1:00pm

Conference: MVC

Watch:  WHAS, BEN, ESPN3

Line: N/A (at time of posting)


What is going on here? 

The Illinois State Redbirds come to town, and they took our old Triple A baseball mascot.  I always wanted to know what happened to our famed triple a baseball mascot.  He flew North West to a little town called Normal, and nothing weird about that.  Even kept his red and white colors.   Apparently, he took Louisville’s old Missouri valley Conference with him.  Louisville won or shared league titles 7 times between 1966-1975.  What are they trying to prove by coming up to Yum!, and throwing pieces of our past in our faces.  I don’t like it.

They are pretty damn good too.  In 2011, they were 21-14 last year that ended in the 2nd round of the NIT (in OT) to Stanford 92-88. Grabbing strong wins against (recent Cards opponent) UNI, Morehead State, Rutgers, and Mississippi.   So far in 2012, they are off to a 5-1 start.  Top wins Drexel and UAB, with a narrow loss to the Big 10’s Northwestern in OT, 72-69.


So why should Cards Fans care?

The MVC has talented teams, Cards need to establish a rhythm with Gorgui out, and Illinois State will not be afraid of the competition.  Cards couldn’t integrate the wings against Duke.  Our wings contribute, Cards win against Duke. Zach and SVT more than covered for lost contribution from Gorgui  Dieng.  The wings, however, had little to no production.  Cards need to get them going against Illinois State in order to handle even stiffer competition heading our way over the next 30 days.  Illinois State will be competing for a MVC title this year, so this is a top 100, maybe top 75 RPI opportunity be year’s end.


About Illinois State

ISU will primary lean on an 8 man rotation.  Tyler Brown is the man to focus on at 18.8 ppg.  Jackie Carmichael and Bryant Allen pitch in 16.2 & 13.0 respectively.  Carmichael leads in what appears to be a team effort in rebounding.  Pitino wants more rebounds out of his guards, and this team will expose that if not improved.  They all go for the rebounds.  They will take those rebounds and pitch to the wings to one of their FOUR shooters over 40% from 3 point range.  Cards get sleepy on D, ISU will be shooting a 3.  Cards Fans are going to see a scrappy team effort out of Illinois State, and they will be throwing themselves around the court.  They average 85 ppg, and their opponents averaging 19 ppg less.  They will challenge for the MVC title this year, and our Cardinals need to be ready.  Coming off a loss, and a 1 week break – I am sure they will be itching to go.


Cards 80 Illinois State 65

Sheriff REVIEW Louisville Wins Big East/BCS Bid Over Rutgers 20-17

Teddy Bridgewater came to New Jersey in a walking boot, a brace/cast on his wrist and uncertainty of whether or not he would even play against Rutgers.  But the sophomore signal caller would play, and 52,798 Scarlet Knight fans would be subject to watching one of the gutsiest performances in college football.  Bridgewater would finish 20 of 28 for 263 yards and 2 Touchdowns after Will Stein started the game and Teddy didn’t see the field until the 2nd quarter.

In warm-ups I watched Teddy intently.  He didn’t come out at first and then when he did finally emerge from the locker room in pads he wasn’t overly enthusiastic while warming up.  Charlie Strong said during his post-game that Teddy came to him during the 1st quarter that he was ready, but by then the Scarlet Knights were already on the board.  In fact, it took just one offensive snap for Rutgers to score after Calvin Pryor missed a tackle and knocked CB Terrell Floyd off his man and Gary Nova had an 85-yard TD pass to Brandon Coleman.  It was an unfortunate start to the game considering Louisville had two players there ready to make a tackle, but sometimes defensive players can block their own team when they don’t wrap up the tackle.

Louisville had trouble running the ball all evening. The Cards finished with just 42 yards on the ground, but Rutgers struggled as well with just 56 of their own.  When it comes down to a game where the Quarterback must win the game Louisville obviously had the advantage even despite Bridgewater having just one arm and one leg.   Nova finished 13 of 28 for 284 yards, 2 Touchdowns, and 2 Interceptions.  Not a terrible game, but consider that 153 yards came on two busted plays and neither came in the 2nd half, and that should tell the story of how well the Louisville defense played all evening in Piscataway. The Cards also gave up a LONG TD  to Mark Harrison from Nova after James Burgess just blew a tackle in the 2nd quarter.  The 85-yarder I can live with because freakish things can happen in sports.  But Burgess missing that tackle really bothered me.  But Burgess would make up for it later……

Meanwhile, the Cards were struggling to move the ball and it wasn’t until Rutgers squandered a scoring opportunity with a fake (maybe botched) field goal attempt that ended up a Touchdown was called back due to ineligible man downfield, that the Cards began moving the ball in earnest.  Louisville got the ball with 8:35 to go in the 3rd quarter and put together a 14-play, 90 yard Touchdown drive that was capped off with a Jeremy Wright shuttle pass reception for 14-yards.  Prior to this drive, it was evident that Louisville’s interior offensive line was getting dominated.  DT Scott Vallone was dominating inside and rendering Louisville’s running game useless.  The TD narrowed the margin to 14-10 and created the possibility of victory.

At this point in time the Louisville sideline was through the roof.  They were bouncing up and down, yelling, screaming.  They had swagger.  And it just takes one play, one instant to put things on their head and the Cardinals got that moment when Jeremy Deering was ROCKED by Terrell Floyd (both players went down on the hit) and the ball came loose only for Calvin Pryor to recover on the Rutgers 20.  And then, like so many other times in the REDZONE the Cards went to their Touchdown ATM in DeVante Parker and it took just one play for Louisville to take a 17-14 lead.  Parker was double covered, but like he’s shown so many times before he has the ability to go up and get the ball like no one else.  It does help quite a bit that Teddy Bridgewater puts it in a place where only Parker can catch it.  But this exchange was the ENTIRE game.  It gave the Cards the lead and put them in position to win.

I spent the entire 4th quarter on the field.  Nervous energy kept me there, and the amount of trash talk from the Rutgers fans to the Louisville sideline during this time probably fueled a great deal of the Cardinal energy.  Much of what was said isn’t fit for print, but the Cards had the lead and Rutgers hadn’t done much on offense when the Cardinals weren’t missing tackles.  Things didn’t change, except for when a Teddy Bridgewater pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Lorenzo Waters and returned to the Louisville 42.  The Scarlet Knights needed just 21 yards before a Nick Borgese (back-up kicking due to injury) hit a 38-yard field goal to knot the game at 17.

After a HUGE catch from Eli Rogers Louisville would eventually have to punt after a Teddy Bridgewater sack on 3rd down.  Rutgers found itself with 4:39 on the clock facing 3rd & 8 when James Burgess got his redemption and intercepted Gary Nova and gave the Cards the ball with FANTASTIC field position.  There was an unsportsmanlike flag on the play. I don’t know if it was for celebration or a personal foul. There was a lengthy scrum on the Louisville sideline with Rutgers and Louisville players going back and forth.  I was TOO CLOSE to really see what was happening in the mass of humanity, but I do know that Coach Strong was really upset with the flag which took the ball from the Rutgers 32, (49-yard field goal range) to the RU 47 (out of field goal range).  But Andrell Smith and Teddy Bridgewater connected on a HUGE 30-yard reception on the following play that eventually led to a chip shot 29-yard John Wallace field goal in what was the game deciding score at 20-17.

Rutgers got the ball back with 1:35, down 3 and moved the ball to midfield on one of the most bizarre plays I’ve seen on 1st down with about 1:12 remaining.  Gary Nova just threw it up to no one, and Terrell Floyd ran it down and caught it for the game clinching interception.  I’m going to have to go back and see this particular play on film, but I can’t imagine why the receiver wasn’t there or why Nova threw it there.  It was just, Floyd….all alone with the conference championship and a BCS bid on the line and a Gary Nova pass.  Twilight Zone stuff.

From there it was a simple kneel down.  The Cards who hadn’t won a game since November 3rd finally notched their 10th win of the 2012 season, grabbed the Big East Title, and earned their first BCS bowl since the 2006 Orange Bowl. Louisville had the ball for 42:11 of the game and ran 80 plays to Rutgers’ 45.  Clearly the object was to control the ball and limit the Scarlet Knight opportunities. In fact, the longest Rutgers had the ball in any one quarter was 5:02 in the 4th quarter.  The Cards were 8 of 19 on 3rd down and limited RU to a pedestrian 3 of 11 to boot.  I have to credit the game plan and Louisville’s ability to stick with that game plan throughout.  The way this game was played it was all about just grinding and not making mistakes and waiting to capitalize on Rutgers’ mistakes.  If not for 2 busted tackles this game isn’t as exciting.

The past 48 hours have been an absolute whirlwind and a stark contrast to last Saturday.  Last Saturday Wristpacolyspe befell CardNation when Teddy Bridgewater and Gorgui Dieng were diagnosed with broken wrists, and Louisville Football fell in triple overtime to the Connecticut Huskies and Louisville Basketball fell to the Duke Blue Devils.  The Karma seemed to change Wednesday morning with the news that Louisville would be joining the ACC, and then rumors about Charlie Strong to Auburn began popping up in the national media, which Coach Strong vehemently has denied.  Then coming into the game for the Big East Championship the Cards were not sure whether or not they would have Teddy Bridgewater available, to come in and win like this just caps off a roller coaster of emotion for CardNation.

At this point I couldn’t be happier about being a Card Fan.  Conference Title in hand. BCS Bowl to be announced Sunday.  Membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference.  I don’t believe that Charlie Strong takes another job.  I’m not saying that he won’t, he certainly left the door open in his press conference……BUT I really don’t see why he would leave the Cards with an entire team returning in 2013 that has one of the most special players in college football as its center piece.  Couple that with the fact that Charlie is already a Top 20 paid coach with an athletic director committed to matching any offer to go along with ACC membership and it doesn’t make a lot of sense for Coach Strong to leave Louisville now, if ever.  But IF Coach Strong is going to move on to a different position the pay off is after 2013, not after 2012.  It just doesn’t make sense for him to leave for a ‘good’ job.  He’ll leave for a ‘GREAT’ job and there are only 10 of those in CFB.

Right now it looks like the Orange or Sugar Bowl for Louisville all depending on Kent State’s final ranking.  We can all laugh about how Kent State (a team Kentucky beat handily) is affecting the BCS picture later.  But for now, it seems like a pretty cut and dry case that Louisville is either going to face Florida in the Sugar Bowl, or Florida State (OK maybe Georgia Tech) in the Orange Bowl.  Either way, the exposure that Charlie Strong and this football program is going to get over the next month in the state of Florida and nationally is going to be INVALUABLE with recruits not just for the 2013 class (it will be small) but for 2014 (a potentially HUGE class) and beyond.  It’s no secret that Louisville and Charlie Strong have built this team with a huge lift from Florida players, having Coach Strong & Staff in Miami for bowl prep for 10 days definitely isn’t going to hurt.

My head is spinning thinking of everything that happened tonight.  Hopefully if you followed me on Twitter and read my preview (which I nailed the final score right on the money) you enjoyed the coverage of this epic game.  There is so much more to come, I’ll make sure to add videos and tidbits as I find them.  Also be sure to look out for CrumsRevenge’s Highlight VIDEO on Monday Morning as usual! GO CARDS!!!!  Make sure to book your hotels, flights, and get your BOWL TICKETS THIS WEEK!!!!!

Louisville To ACC: Where Does it Rank, What Does It mean?

Louisville To ACC

So, that was pretty cool.

Today was the most historic day in UofL history – relatively speaking.  Let me compare some in my time.  I won’t cover them all – but what I feel are some big ones.


1.  Basketball winning the 80 & 86 titles:  Incredible, but we were a top program already.  This was adding extra validation.  Program changing:  Low.


2.  Facilities:  Fed the fire.  Baseball, basketball, football, soccer, on and on.  Jurich spreads the wealth.  For people in “other sports” like I was – this is amazing support.  Hard not to love him.  If you build it, they will come.  The athlete’s that came helped set the stage for our national reputation to become an interesting pick for the Big East. Program changing:  Medium-Low.


3.  Hiring Howard Schnellenburger:  They almost cancelled the football team – permanently – he was a last ditch effort to save it.  Amazing moment and what ensued culminating to a victory over football power Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl.  No football, means no power 5.  Great hire.  Thanks for not giving up on Football UL. Program changing: Medium.


4.  Joining CUSA:  When Cards joined a conference to help establish their football program, many didn’t like the move.  The reality is, it helped.  We advanced the program, under Tom Jurich’s guidance.  Grabbed a few titles, and made the nation see we were committed to all sports at UofL.  We do not go to the Big East without a few resume adds of “conference champion”, which helped fuel UofL (and Boise) nationally, as a part of the “BCS Buster” crew.  We built ESPN’s Thursday night market single handedly with John L’s incredible bowl streak, and unmistakable personality.  It made the Big East Possible.  Tom had us rolling, and it didn’t take us long to win the Big East title of Rich Rod, one of UL’s opponents when attempting to join.  “Suck it Trabek (Rich Rod).  Suck it long, and suck it hard.” Joining the CUSA turns out to be a huge deal, we don’t catch the Big East’s eye without this fruitful era. Program changing: med-high.


5.  Joinging BigEast:  Big news.  Louisville’s fire was hot, and the Big East threw gasoline on it.  Louisville goes on to win as much (or most) Big East Titles across all sports compared to every school in the league.  We are the most profitable basketball program in America.  The BigEast helped us blow up on the national scene to unprecedented levels.  Program changing: high.


6.  Joining ACC:  There are no words what this means.  I can’t even think to type them, so I will await Mike Rutherford’s truly poetic account of what this means.  I can tell you this.  Tom Jurich saved UL sports today.  People doubted him, criticism was high, he just kept chugging.  The turtleneck shield all distractions, and he got the job done.  Again, as he has done many times before, before and after winning the national AD of the year.  The game changed.  Suddenly, being rich and successful didn’t matter (see Maryland), only state population did (see Maryland/Rutgers).  We don’t have it like those courting.  Sure, might be higher than some already in the power 5 – but nobody is getting kicked out.  We had to make some serious partners, and FSU was one of them.  Without getting into details, be very good to their fans, and very grateful of the olf Metro partner, because VTech was less than helpful, and why should they?  We bailed on them when we went to CUSA.  The money has been turned on, and you don’t want to know what would’ve happened to UL if it was turned off.  I hope for the “have not’s” that an expanded tourney happens sooner than later.  It is the right thing to do, and more teams are capable of taking it all than ever before. Program Changing:  Program Saving – nothing higher.


Why it’s cool


Obvious Comment:  What. A. League.  This will rival BE’s best year ever 2 years ago, and will surpass it on the fact that most of the teams “aren’t just making it, they’ll be top shelf”.  Wow.

Subtle Observation:  Basketball Recruiting.  Pitino’s biggest hold out on the Big12 was losing recruiting relevance in the NE where we have established pipelines.  He was right, we don’t have a Midwest pipeline to boast – save our love for Swop/ and Goode.  What happened in the ACC this year made this move exciting to Pitino.  Pitt & Syracuse joined.  What does this mean?  Pitino can continue to recruit the areas he is best.  Games and conference presence in the north east was solely BC, but now footprint expanded to Pitt & Syracuse means Pitino is happy.  That means we should be happy too.  I didn’t like the ACC as much for UL until Pitt and Syracuse joined, all in now.



Obvious Comment:  Power 5.  Let it be known.  I hate the Power 5.  It is unfair, and I hope people continue to fight it.  We need an expanded tournament that gives hard working capable teams a shot at the title – and not selected by “a committee e of men”, because men suck.  However, that being said – this is not our headache to fight now.  We will be included, we get the money, we continue to grow facilities as Tom Likes to do, we have a better retention rate with Football coaches.

Subtle Observation:  Football Recruiting & Coach Strong.  Coaches recruiting efforts just got a whole lot easier.  We have games every year in states we love to recruit.  We are in the Power 5, and are a factor in the NC equation.  This was the best conference for us in football regardless of Pitt and Syracuse.  We love southern football players, and now they will watch us weekly on TV.


All other sports

Overall Comment:  Come one, come all.  The BIG12 relationship would’ve ended with a majority of our sports looking for other homes.  Geographically spread out, multiple conferences, that is marketing night mare.  With the ACC, the fact that it is an all sports conference, and geographically friendly to UL – this is a huge will for ALL sports.  I may not watch them as much, but as a former D1 collegiate “Olympic sports” athlete, Tennis, I know how huge this is for the other sports.  They never get enough attention, work just as hard, and in many cases are better athletes than the big money sports.  They just excel in sports that aren’t as profitable from an exposure standpoint.


Where do we go from here?

Let’s win the Big East conference BCS title bid Thursday against Rutgers in what is now called the “Big 10 – ACC Challenge”. Enjoy the Cardinal BCS game – no, make it ACC/BCS celebration – with our new best friend, FSU.  We have so much to be thankful for, and Tom Jurich pulled his best Jack Bauer yet.


Kentucky Statement on Hiring Mark Stoops

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Mark Stoops, who oversaw dramatic improvements as defensive coordinator at Florida State and Arizona, and has turned FSU into one of the nation’s top defenses, has been named head football coach at the University of Kentucky, UK director of athletics Mitch Barnhart announced Tuesday.

“New beginnings always provide a sense of excitement,” Barnhart said.  “That’s why today I’m excited for Mark Stoops and his family as they provide a new beginning for our football program, fans and players.

“Mark’s passion has been evident in the way he coaches and in his love for the game of football.  That passion carried over into our process and his desire to wear the Blue and White.  Our desire to get better defensively and continue to expand our recruiting base helped guide us to Mark.  He comes from a coaching family and has been in big games and big atmospheres throughout his career.  That has prepared him for this opportunity to become head coach at Kentucky.  We welcome Mark, Chantel, Will and Zack to the Big Blue Nation.”

“I enjoyed my time this week with Coach Stoops,” said Dr. Eli Capilouto, President of the University of Kentucky. “I am impressed with his commitment to student-athletes, both in the classroom and on the field. I am also deeply impressed with the way Mitch Barnhart has conducted this important process. I am confident that Coach Stoops has the character and skill to build the winning program the Big Blue Nation wants and deserves.”

Stoops has been defensive coordinator at FSU for three seasons, inheriting a unit ranked 108th in the NCAA in total defense and turning it into one of the nation’s best.  Heading into Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship game with a 10-2 record and No. 13/12 national ranking, the Seminoles are second in the nation in total defense, allowing 249.4 yards per game, and seventh nationally in scoring defense at 15.1 points per game.  Playing well against the run and the pass, FSU is fourth in the country in both rushing defense and pass efficiency defense.  FSU leads the ACC in seven defensive categories.  Stoops also coaches the defensive backs under head coach Jimbo Fisher.

Eight Seminoles on defense earned 2012 All-ACC honors, including four first-team selections, highlighted by one of the nation’s top defensive end duos in Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine, who combined for 24 sacks and 31 tackles for loss. Werner is a finalist for the 2012 Bronko Nagurski Award as the National Defensive Player of the Year and is the national co-leader in sacks with 13. Stoops also coached cornerback Ronald Darby to ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year.


The Seminoles’ prowess is a continuation of the 2011 season, when Stoops’ troops led the nation in fewest yards allowed per carry (2.3), ranked fourth in the nation in total defense (275 yards per game), second in rushing defense (82.7 ypg), fourth in scoring defense (15.1 points per game), eighth in tackles for loss (8.6 per game) and quarterback sacks (3.1 per game).  FSU led the ACC in eight defensive categories.

Stoops overhauled the Florida State defense in 2010, his first season as defensive coordinator.  The Seminoles gave up 19.6 points per game, third-best in the ACC and 20th nationally.  FSU ranked 42nd nationally in total defense that season; in contrast, the team was 108th nationally in total defense and 94th in scoring defense in 2009, the year before Stoops’ arrival.  FSU improved its overall defense by more than 80 yards per game, primarily by limiting opponents to 75 fewer rushing yards per game.  The Seminoles ranked third in the nation in quarterback sacks and were 21st in tackles for loss.  In the secondary, Stoops coached Xavier Rhodes to ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and National Defensive Freshman of the Year accolades.

During Stoops’ three seasons, FSU has gone 10-4, 9-4 and 10-2, including wins over South Carolina in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl and Notre Dame in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl.  The Seminoles’ 2012 bowl bid will be announced Sunday.

“I am thrilled to be named the head football coach at the University of Kentucky,” Stoops said.  “My family and I are excited and looking forward to becoming a part of the Big Blue Nation.

“First of all, I want to thank Jimbo Fisher and Florida State University for allowing me to be the defensive coordinator at Florida State.  It has been three of the greatest years of my life.  I am grateful for the support of all Seminole fans as we focus on the ACC Championship.

“I want to thank President Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity.  I promise the faithful of the Big Blue Nation I will be focused and driven to create a positive, winning atmosphere for the program and an environment that all of Kentucky can be proud of.”

“I am extremely happy for Mark and his family,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said.  “He has done a tremendous job for us here as a defensive coordinator and he is a vital part of our staff. I always say you want the people who work for you to advance and reach their goals and aspirations and I couldn’t be happier. He has done a super job for us and this opportunity is well deserved. He is very well prepared and I think he will do one heck of a job for the University of Kentucky. I was very fortunate to have him on our staff and consider him a good friend.”

Stoops was defensive coordinator and DBs coach at Arizona from 2004-09, working for his brother, Mike, who was head coach of the Wildcats.  During Mark’s time there, Arizona’s records improved steadily, going 3-8, 3-8, 6-6, 5-7, 8-5 and 8-5.  The Wildcats advanced to the Las Vegas Bowl and Holiday Bowl during the last two years.  Mark and Mike are also brothers of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, with Mark being the youngest of the three.  Mike is currently the defensive coordinator on Bob’s staff at Oklahoma.

Stoops inherited an Arizona unit that was 109th in the nation in total defense and 107th in scoring defense in 2003, the year before he arrived.  By the end of his term at Arizona, the Wildcats ranked in the nation’s top-25 in total defense his final two seasons and ranked as high as 33rd in scoring defense.

Prior to Arizona, Stoops coached the defensive backs three years at Miami (Fla.).  The 2001 national champion Hurricanes led the nation in pass efficiency defense, scoring defense and turnover margin. That team also established a school record with 27 interceptions and 45 total takeaways.

Stoops’ 2002 secondary led the nation in pass defense and pass efficiency defense. Despite having to replace all four starters in the defensive backfield, the 2003 team led the nation in pass defense.  In his three seasons, Miami went 35-3, including the 12-0 Rose Bowl title campaign, plus appearances in the Fiesta and Orange bowls.  Ten Miami defensive backs who played at least one season under Stoops were eventually selected in the National Football League draft – seven in the first round.

Stoops got his first experience in leading a defense as co-defensive coordinator at Houston in the 2000 season.  He coached the secondary at Wyoming from 1997-99 and the Cowboys notched three-straight winning seasons.  A highlight of his time there was a school-record 24 interceptions in the ’97 season. His first full-time coaching job was in 1996 at South Florida, helping USF in the start-up of its program before the Bulls had their first kickoff in ’97.

Stoops has recruited and developed numerous outstanding defensive backs, many of whom went on to National Football League careers.  Among the notables are Antoine Cason and Michael Johnson at Arizona, Miami’s Philip Buchanon, Kelly Jennings, Brandon Meriweather, Ed Reed, Antrel Rolle, Mike Rumph and Sean Taylor and Wyoming’s Brian Lee.

Stoops was raised in Youngstown, Ohio.  Like his brothers, Mark played in the secondary at the University of Iowa for Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry.  He participated in four bowl games as a player.  Fry hired Stoops as a graduate assistant coach at Iowa in the 1990 and ’91 seasons.  The Hawkeyes won the 1990 Big Ten title and played in the Rose Bowl, duplicating feats Stoops also achieved as a player.  Stoops went on to coach four years in high school before entering the collegiate ranks.

Stoops and his wife, Chantel, have two sons, Will and Zack.

Stoops Coaching History

Year                 School                          Position                                               W-L      Postseason

1990                 Iowa                             Graduate Assistant                    8-4        Rose

1991                 Iowa                             Graduate Assistant                    10-1-1   Holiday

1992-95             Nordonia HS                 Defensive Backs

1996                 South Florida                Defensive Backs                       0-0

1997                 Wyoming                      Defensive Backs                       7-6

1998                 Wyoming                      Defensive Backs                       8-3

1999                 Wyoming                      Defensive Backs                       7-4

2000                 Houston                        Co-Defensive Coord., Safeties   3-8

2001                 Miami (Fla.)                   Defensive Backs                       12-0      Rose

2002                 Miami (Fla.)                   Defensive Backs                       12-1      Fiesta

2003                 Miami (Fla.)                   Defensive Backs                       11-2      Orange

2004                 Arizona                         Defensive Coordinator, DBs       3-8

2005                 Arizona                         Defensive Coordinator, DBs       3-8

2006                 Arizona                         Defensive Coordinator, DBs       6-6

2007                 Arizona                         Defensive Coordinator, DBs       5-7

2008                 Arizona                         Defensive Coordinator, DBs       8-5        Las Vegas

2009                 Arizona                         Defensive Coordinator, DBs       8-5        Holiday

2010                 Florida State                 Defensive Coordinator, DBs       10-4      Chick-fil-A

2011                 Florida State                 Defensive Coordinator, DBs       9-4        Champs Sports

2012                 Florida State                 Defensive Coordinator, DBs       10-2      TBA


Stoops’ Improvements as Defensive Coordinator

indicates the season before Stoops arrived


Arizona – National Rankings

Total Defense    Scoring Defense           Rush Defense   Pass Defense   Pass Efficiency Def.

2003*    109                   107                               84                     112                   112

2004     61                     55                                 30                     101                   83

2005     86                     64                                 93                     72                     66

2006     49                     35                                 42                     69                     62

2007     53                     59                                 47                     71                     33

2008     24                     33                                 39                     23                     14

2009     25                     53                                 29                     33                     37


Florida State – National Rankings

Total Defense    Scoring Defense           Rush Defense   Pass Defense   Pass Efficiency Def.

2009*    108                   94                                 108                   77                     110

2010     42                     20                                 29                     71                     37

2011     4                      4                                  2                      20                     25

2012     2                      7                                  4                      6                      4         


Kentucky Set to Hire Mark Stoops

The University of Kentucky Football Program has found its new leader in current Florida State Defensive Coordinator Mark Stoops.  Stoops has an impressive resume`  that began with him play Defensive Back at Iowa.  From there, Stoops got his first assistant job at South Florida as the defensive backs coach, before moving to Wyoming for the same position from 1997-99.  Stoops spent one year at Houston, before a 3-year stint with the Miami Hurricanes as the Defensive Back coach.

Stoops got his first crack as a coordinator when he followed his brother, Mike, to Arizona from 2004-2009 before leaving for the Florida State Defensive Coordinator job when Jimbo Fisher was elevated to Head Coach following Bobby Bowden’s retirement.

Mark Stoops is from Youngstown, OH and is a part of a very famous football family and has been a part of some very successful football programs during his tenure.

I applaud Mitch Barnhart and the University of Kentucky Athletic Department for landing such a quality hire in a climate that was getting more and more competitive with additional top openings.  Kentucky needed to strike before the coaching pool was poached by other schools and the Cats did a really fine job.

Sheriff Preview: Rutgers, Battle for Big East/BCS

Louisville and Rutgers.  We’ve seen this before.  In Piscataway late in the season BCS opportunity for both schools ESPN Thursday night.  On November 9, 2006 Louisville had a dream of a national title crushed after blowing a 25-7 lead and was capped off when Rutgers’ kicker Jeremy Ito split the uprights after a William Gay offside penalty gave Ito another opportunity after a miss and ultimately gave Rutgers the 28-25 victory.

At the time of the game, Louisville was rated #3 in the BCS standings with 1-loss Florida, Texas, USC, and Auburn firmly behind the Cards.  Ahead of Louisville was Ohio State and Michigan who of course play one another every year in the final game of their seasons.  Louisville only needed to win its final 4 games and find itself in the national championship.  As it happened, Texas lost their final two games, Auburn fell to Georgia, and UCLA beat USC.  Louisville would have played Ohio State for the national title, but instead the Florida Gators beat Arkansas for the SEC Title and then ran the Buckeyes off the face of the earth in the BCS Title Game in Glendale, AZ. Ohio State could gain just 82 yards in the title game, a fact which everyone seems to forget.

That Louisville vs. Rutgers game shaped the entire college football landscape in 2006.  After Ito’s kick, the Cards fell to #10, and would eventually recover to #6 following an Orange Bowl win over Wake Forest.  Rutgers would climb to #6 in the BCS rankings, but would go on to lose two of their next three games allowing Louisville to win the league outright.

Ito’s kick would serve a greater purpose as it inspired Anthony Starego, who is autistic, to become a kicker after he witnessed Ito take down the Cardinals with his leg.  Starego is now 18 years old, and kicked a game-winner of his own for his Brick High School to beat Toms River North, video is below.  Starego had been in 11 different foster homes by the time he reached 3 years old after being removed from his mother’s care as an infant and was considered unadoptable. The Starego family took Anthony on as they were unable to have children of their own, and their tireless efforts in raising him have inspired me through his story and YouTube video.  Please click the link above and watch the video.  As much as it hurt to lose to Rutgers that day, knowing that our loss inspired Starego makes it all a little easier to deal with.

This year, RIGHT NOW, in 2012 Louisville & Rutgers will play for ONE spot with ONE game remaining for ONE BCS bid.  The game on Thursday in Piscataway gives Rutgers its first opportunity to win a Conference Title in the Big East, and just their 4th in school history.  Regardless of what happens, RU will win at least a ‘share’ of the conference crown as they are the only team in the league with just 1 loss…..BUT this game is for the Big East’s BCS bid.  Louisville had an opportunity last week with Rutgers losing to Pittsburgh 27-6, but instead dropped a triple overtime contest to UConn.  With both teams being ranked and losing on Saturday you have to wonder just how large Thursday Night’s game really impacted these two teams focus.  Personally I think Pitt & UConn were worthy opponents to begin with, but when a team plays with one eye on next week they get themselves beat.   The winner on Thursday night will still most assuredly get the BCS bid which will either be to the Orange or Sugar Bowl.  This game is EVERYTHING, it’s the whole year for both programs.

Rutgers and Louisville have met 11 times starting in 1976.  Rutgers won the first 4 match-ups from ’76 to ’86, but when the Cards met the Scarlet Knights 20 years later in 2005 Louisville put up a huge number 56-5.  In 2006 & 2007 the two schools traded wins in a couple of 3 point margin games, before Rutgers returned the beat down from 2005 in 2008 during the season finale (with a bowl bid on the line) with 671 total yards in 63-14 thrashing of the Cards.  Mike Teel was 21 of 26 for 447 yards and 7 Touchdowns in that game. However, since that game Louisville hasn’t lost to Rutgers winning 3 in a row.  Charlie Strong is 2-0 against Rutgers and in 2010 the Cards exploded for an unexpected 40-13 win with Will Stein replacing Justin Burke at Quarterback.  And then there was last year.

Last Year

Last year Louisville limped into the Rutgers game with a 2-4 record.  The offensive line was a mess, the Cards had lost 3 straight, and Anthony Conner broke his neck during the game while trying to tackle Mohamed Sanu.  I was really struck with the Rutgers’ sideline who all came onto the field and took a knee.  Of course, the Scarlet Knights know all too well about neck injuries after Eric LeGrand’s injury.  Luckily Anthony Conner was OK and has made a full recovery.

The game was a defensive one.  It finished as a 16-14 win for the Cards, but Rutgers really should have had a better showing.  I actually named the Rutgers team “Sanu & The Droppers” featuring Gary Nova due to all of the dropped balls from the RU receivers, none more costly than the one late in the 4th quarter to Mark Harrison.  Harrison was W-I-D-E open and dropped a ball that probably would have won the game for Rutgers.  Louisville needs a break on the season, and Harrison’s drop changed their fortunes almost entirely.

Louisville did intercept Gary Nova 3 times in 2011 and Sanu made up for nearly ALL of Nova’s production.  The Rutgers running game was also largely stalled.  But the Cards weren’t all that impressive moving the ball either.  Teddy Bridgewater was making his 4th career start and the offensive line was finally in its usual rotation.  Also important to note that this was Calvin Pryor’s first start of the year, and since he replaced Shenard Holton as a starter at Free Safety, Louisville football is 14-3.  Still the Cards were able to out-gain Rutgers by 11 yards and the turnovers and drops were the main difference in the ball game.  Jeremy Wright also run huge on 11 carries for 109 yards and was on fire.

You can read my game review from last year here. 

Statistical Comparison

Louisville Rutgers
Strength of Schedule (Congrove) 66th 71st
Scoring Offense (ppg) 32.0 (40th) 22.9 (95th)
Total Offense (ypg) 431.3 (44th) 341.4 (102nd)
Passing Offense (ypg) 296.5 (26th) 208.9 (90th)
Rushing Offense (ypg) 134.82 (93rd) 132.45 (96th)
Scoring Defense (ppg) 24.5 (44th) 13.7 (4th)
Total Defense (ypg) 345.5 (26th) 317.4 (14th)
Passing Defense (ypg) 185.5 (14th) 206.6 (32nd)
Rushing Defense (ypg) 159.91 (62nd) 110.73 (11th)
First Downs (per game) 22.9 (35th) 17.5 (110th)
Opponent First Downs (per game) 19.2 (33rd) 17.6 (15th)
Turnover Margin (season) +7 (28th) +11 (17th)
Time of Possession 31:53.36 (21st) 31:00.73 (37th)
Sacks (per game) 1.73 (77th) 1.64 (85th)
Sacks Allowed (per game) 2.0 (69th) 0.73 (7th)
Tackles for Loss (per game) 4.73 (99th) 6.55 (32nd)
Tackles for Loss Allowed (per game) 5.46 (57th) 4.91 (37th)
Interceptions (season) 7 (96th) 15 (22nd)
Passes Defended (per game) 4.00 (88th) 5.45 (26th)
Fumbles Recovered (season) 11 (45th) 13 (23rd)
Fumbles Forced (season) 10 (77th) 11 (61st)
Fumbles Lost (season) 5 (9th) 4 (4th)
3rd Down Conversions (%) 49.34% (10th) 37.50 (81st)
Opponent 3rd Down Conversions (%) 43.54% (92nd) 36.88 (42nd)
Red Zone Conversions (%) 95.65% (1st) 70.97% (118th)
Opponent Red Zone Conversions (%) 86.84% (105th) 62.50% (3rd)
Field Goal % 87.5% (7th) 60% (102nd)
Opponent Field Goal % 66.7% (35th) 57.9 (14th)
Punt Returns (ypr) 4.55 (108th) 4.5 (109th)
Kickoff Returns (ypr) 18.20 (113th) 26.06 (10th)
Opponent Punt Returns (ypr) 8.50 (68th) 6.86 (45th)
Opponent Kickoff Returns (ypr) 24.3 (111th) 18.24 (10th)
Punting (ypp) 37.64 (116th) 37.89 (115th)
Kicks/Punts Blocked (season) 1 (65th) 8 (1st)
Penalties (ypg) 56.9 (80th) 64.5 (102nd)

Louisville Offense vs. Rutgers Defense

This is going to be a BATTLE. Rutger’s defense is easily the top unit in the Big East. Teddy Bridgewater is one of the best Quarterbacks in all of college football. Unfortunately Teddy Bridgewater will be a lot different on Thursday than he has been all season.  Teddy took a pounding worse than the Belk Bowl against the Connecticut Huskies as Louisville’s lack of a running game allowed the Huskies to pin their ears back and go after the sophomore signal-caller.  Teddy had to leave the game twice, once due to a broken wrist, and then in overtime due to an injured ankle.  The ankle could be fine, but the wrist certainly won’t be.

The wrist injury is what I am going to focus on because it changes Louisville’s offense.  On Saturday Bridgewater could not go under center to receive snaps with the cast on his left hand and was in shotgun throughout the 2nd half.  This really limited Louisville’s run game even more than it already is with Senorise Perry being out for the year with an ACL tear.  Against the Scarlet Knights, I expect to see A LOT of passing and almost exclusively shotgun and pistol formations on Thursday night as a result of Bridgewater’s wrist.

Rutgers’ defense is incredibly talented.  They aren’t in the backfield as much as UConn, but they are more effective overall.  It all starts upfront with Defensive Tackles Jamil Merrell (6-2, 260, Jr.) and Scott Vallone (6-3, 275, Sr.).  Together these two guys are REALLY effective on the inside.  Their production is very high compared to your typical space eating Defensive Tackles.  These two patrol the middle.  Scott Vallone has 46 tackles, 9.5 behind the line of scrimmage while Jamil has 32 tackles and 7.5 TFLs  Together Vallone and Merrell are a nightmare inside, they are a huge reason for the success of this defense. The Cards need to be careful with the stunt package Rutgers will use to disguise the pressure with these guys. Vallone has started 49 consecutive games, which is the most of any active player in the Big East, his motor doesn’t stop and he’s a chore.

Defensive Ends Marcus Thompson (6-2, 260, Jr.), Ka’Lial Glaud (6-2, 230, Sr.) are solid contributors but they really must play their positions to make this defense work.  They do a good job of containing edges and playing their assignments.  These guys hold their own and it’s interesting to see the tackle production flip-flop between the ends and the tackles.  But really these guys play a little wider and create a little funnel for  Rutgers’ DT and Linebackers.

The RU linebacker corps is led by WLB Khaseem Greene (6-1, 230, Sr.). Green was 1st team All-Big East in 2011 and co-Defensive Player of the Year.  He’ll be 1st Team All-Big East again in 2012 and probably won’t share the honor.  If he played in the PAC-12, Big 12, ACC, SEC, C-USA, OBGYN, AARP, USOC, whatever league you want to put him in……he’d be first team.  Period.  After scouring games for Louisville & Kentucky all season the only player I really would put above Greene at this point would be South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney.  North Carolina’s Kevin Reddick would be right up there as would Southern Miss’ Jaime Collins. But back to Khasheem Greene, on the year Greene has 115 tackles, 10 behind the line, 5.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 7 passes defended, 7 Quarterback hits, 6 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries.  Greene was named National Defensive Player of the Week after their victory over Syracuse, and is 5 All-Time on Rutgers’ Career Tackler list and is a Bednarik Award Finalist.  Last year Greene had 7 tackles against the Cards. 

LB Jamal Merrell (6-4, 220, Jr.) Merrell is 3rd on the team in tackles with 70, including 8 TFL, and forced fumble and 2 blocked kicks.  Merrell leads Rutgers in blocked kicks and that’s something Louisville REALLY needs to get ready for as the Scarlet Knights lead the country in blocked kicks with 8! Merrell has 4 blocks in his career and has a real knack for getting to the ball.  MLB Steve Beauharnais (6-2, 230, Sr.), is Butkus Award Semi-finalist and is putting together a nice season as well with 68 tackles, 4 TFLs, and an INT.  With Greene’s production I’m suprised there are still tackles to be had.  These two do a real nice job of filling in the gaps.

Free Safety Duron Harmon (6-1, 200, Sr.) was 1st Team All-Big East in 2011.  Harmon currently has 39 tackles, 1 INT, and 1 recovered fumble on the season.  He isn’t playing at the same high-level as he was in 2011, but he is still a very good safety on a really good defense.  Strong Safety Lorenzo Waters (6-0, 200, Soph) is the only non-junior or senior on the Rutgers’ defense and he is fitting in perfectly.  Waters is 5th in tackles with 59, 4.5 TFLs, 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and a blocked kick.  These two guys area nice duo who don’t have to worry too much about the run thanks to the guys in front of them. This is an ideal situation for a defense.

Cornerbacks Marcus Cooper (6-2, 190, Sr.) & Logan Ryan (6-0, 190, Jr.) are both bigger than your average corner.  Logan Ryan was 2nd Team All-Big East in 2011, and is currently a Jim Thorpe Semi-Finalist. Cooper has one interception and a blocked kick to his credit, while Ryan is 2nd in tackles for Rutgers with 77, 4 TFLs, 4 INTs, 18 passes defended, and 2 recovered fumbles.  The Scarlet Knights do a lot more with Logan Ryan  but these two guys have held their own all season.

Punter Justin Doerner (6-2, 200, Sr.) was 2nd Team All-Big East in 2011, but he’s not punting that way this year.  In fact, both Louisville and Rutgers haven’t really had a player stick a boot into the ball consistently all year while punting.  Louisville isn’t much of a threat to get big returns so I expect a lot of short fair catches.

I think it’s pretty clear just looking at the rosters that Rutgers’ defense is really good.  But a team has to figure out a way to attack it.  Louisville is down to one of its two main running backs that it has used all year (apologies to Corvin Lamb), Rutgers is 11th in Rushing Defense and 32nd in Passing Defense.  Neither option is really a good one to attack, especially when you consider Louisville’s health situation with no Senorise Perry and a banged up Teddy Bridgewater.  But the choice is clear:  Louisville is going to throw the ball.  Bridgewater can not go under center and will be in shotgun or pistol throughout the game and I think the Cards go with the lesser of two evils (Rutgers’ Pass Defense) rather than try and go through the teeth of the Scarlet Knight’s Run Defense out of the shotgun with just one running back.

This can be a dangerous scenario as the defense could decide to just rush and go for broke and could really get Bridgewater beat up.  So I expect some screens and draws, and maybe a little read option if Teddy is feeling up to take some hits.  Also some quick slants, so offensive lineman keeping the line’s hands down will be key. The Cardinal receivers can NOT drop passes like they did last week and expect to win. This game is going to come down to who executes, and Louisville MUST execute against the Rutgers defense or risk seeing a similar performance from last week.

Rutgers Offense vs. Louisville Defense

Where Rutgers’ defense is REALLY good, Rutgers’ offense is limited by design because of their defense.  Rutgers wants to run the ball and has a playcall ratio of 367 run/328 pass on the season and really like to play field position and let their opponent make the mistake.  The Scarlet Knights are primarily a two-back system with RB: Jawan Jamison (5-8, 200, Soph) and Savon Huggins (6-0, 200, Soph) with Jamison getting most of the workload on the ground and through the air.  Jamison gets 91.3 yards per game on 20.86 carries per game, so he’s going to get the ball and has 1004 yards on the year.  Quarterback Gary Nova (6-2, 225 Soph) targets Jamison out of the backfield 2-3 times per game and Jamison is a real threat with the ball in his hands.  Huggins will spell Jamison and both of these guys do a real nice job of NOT LOSING YARDS.  Together these two make what Rutgers is trying to do as a team possible.

Gary Nova is someone I thought had a lot of moxy in 2011 as a true freshman.  Nova was victimized for 3 INTs against the Cards as well as a truckload of drops from the Scarlet Knight receivers not named Sanu.  If we are honest, even with 3 INTs Nova played well enough to beat UofL last year, he just didn’t have a lot of help from those around him.  BUT 3 interceptions is a lot in a game, and Nova threw SIX INTERCEPTIONS against Kent State in what was Rutgers first loss of the season.  Nova has 13 interceptions on the season and did throw one against Pitt last week in Rutgers’ second loss of the season. But Nova hasn’t been all bad in 2012, quite the contrary in fact.  Nova has done enough for Rutgers to win 9 games and throw for 2282 yards and 20 TDs, against Arkansas Nova threw 397 yards and 3 TDs on 25 of 35 passing.  Against UConn he was 157 on 18 of 27 with 1 TD.  Nova is 12-4 as a starting QB for the Scarlet Knights, one of those losses was last year against Louisville.

Nova’s passing options are BIG targets.  Wide Receivers Tim Wright (6-4, 220, Sr.), Brandon Coleman (6-6, 220, Soph), Mark Harrison (6-3, 230 Sr.), and Tight End DC Jefferson (6-6, 250, Sr.) are big bodies, and hard to miss for the Quarterback.  In the redzone you can count on Brandon Coleman getting a jump ball, but they could really do that with everyone.  Coleman, Wright, and Harrison all have evenly distributed catches with 37, 37, and 35 between them, but Coleman’s 9 TD receptions far and away leads to the team.  Harrison’s 5 TDs is the only other player who can come close to Coleman’s production.  But the trio of receivers accounts for 1414 of Rutgers 2298 passing yards on the season 61.5%.  Louisville’s secondary has to be up to the task.  In one respect the Cards should be faster than these bigger guys, so getting to them shouldn’t be a problem.  On the other hand Rutgers’ receivers have a SIZABLE advantage over the Louisville secondary in terms of size.  This will be an interesting match-up to watch particularly on 3rd and long.

Rutgers’ Offensive Line has allowed just 8 sacks all season. The OLine is a sizable one: LT: Kaleb Johnson (6-4, 300, Soph), LG Antwan Lowery (6-4, 305, Jr), C Betum Bujari (6-4, 290, Soph), RT RJ Dill (6-7, 310, Sr.).  The Scarlet Knights do a have a problem at the Right Guard spot this week as Andre Civil is more than likely OUT.  Civil did not finish against Pitt and is on crutches and in a boot. Taj Alexander (6-4, 290, Soph) is Civil’s likely replacement but he didn’t finish the game against Pitt either. So this is something to watch for sure to see if Nova gets the same protection and if Rutgers can continue to run the football with a troubled right guard spot.  Against Pitt Nova threw for only 157 yards and Rutgers only ran for 50 yards.  So it obviously had an impact.

Kicker Kyle Federico will not play against Louisville and instead the Scarlet Knights will go with Nick Borgese to do the place kicking duties. Borgese has been kicking since the Syracuse game.  Borgese is 3 of 4 on the year.  Borgese’s miss with from the 20-29 range but he is 2 for 2 from 40-49.  Wide Receiver Jeremy Deering was ALL-Big East Return Specialist 2nd Team in 2011 and is currently averaging 28.6 yards per return.  Louisville would be wise to kick away from Deering.

Louisville’s job #1 is stop the run.  I realize that hasn’t really been happening lately.  But DeAngelo Brown should be back in the middle and that should give the Cards an extra body inside.  BJ Dubose won’t be back at DE and that hurts.  Daniel Brown is back, and George Durant is VERY good against the run.  But stopping Jawan Jamison is priority #1.  Priority #2 is getting to and stopping 3rd Down.  Louisville and Rutgers are going to play a great deal of 3rd down on Thursday and winning this down is going to be huge.

Louisville is unlikely to get into Rutgers’ backfield based on the season Louisville & Rutgers have both had.  But Rutgers shouldn’t be able to really move the ball up and down the field either.  This is going to be a game of field position.  If Rutgers puts together 8-9 play drives consistently, WATCH OUT…..Louisville can’t win the game if that happens.

My Prediction

This is going to be a TOUGH, physical game.  It’s going to be about what you would expect with both teams playing for EVERYTHING.  I saw this game coming in June.  I’ve probably been excited about it since then.  I’m really impressed with Kyle Flood and the future of Rutgers football.  Definitely hope they do well in the Big Ten.  But when it comes to the game here are my questions:

1) How does Rutgers move the ball? 2) How does Louisville score?  3) Who makes the most mistakes? 4) How healthy is Teddy Bridgewater?  5) Can Louisville stop the run?  6) Will Rutgers break a huge return/block a kick?

We’ve seen these teams play.  We know their personalities.  When Louisville is locked in they look like a Top 10 team.  Rutgers’ defense is top notch.  Gary Nova is steady but sometimes can make the big mistake, whereas the Cardinal secondary drops every interception chance they get.  This will be a game of contradictions and in the end one team is going to have more points than the other.  I’ve seen Teddy Bridgewater have one of the most impressive and inspiring sophomore years I’ve ever witnessed on a football field.

I don’t think either team has the ability to pull away from the other.  But I think in the 4th quarter Rutgers has a 4 point advantage, Bridgewater gets the ball with 2 timeouts remaining and 3:00 minutes on the clock, and personally I don’t think there is a better QB to have when running 4 down offense.  I think Louisville wins and I think it’s dramatic at the end.

Louisville 20-Rutgers 17

Attending, Watching, Listening

-Tickets are available on for $58.

-The game will be broadcast on ESPN Thursday night at 7:30 with Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, David Pollack, and Samantha Steele.

-Over the radio waves 840 WHAS with Paul Rogers, Joe Tronzo, and Doug Ormay and on Sirius/XM Channel 85.