LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Usually when you write an offensive line story, something has gone pretty badly wrong.
Not Sunday night. Praising the offensive line is the thing to do in football when you win, but like a quick grace before meals, most do it before moving on to the main course.
But the University of Louisville's offensive line in Sunday's 32-14 victory over arch-rival Kentucky deserves a plate of its own. Center Mario Benavides, not one to thump his chest too often, said as much when told after the game that the Cardinals had two 100-yard rushers.
"Two of them?" he said. "They better take us out to eat or something. But that's why you play. I don't like any of the attention. I just want to win. Seeing those guys succeed and getting the spotlight, that's why we do it. Rushing for 200 yards is always a goal of ours. We'd like to have more than that, but 200 is nothing to sneeze at."
U of L running back Senorise Perry wasn't sneezing at it. He had 16 carries for a game-high 108 yards. Both he and Jeremy Wright (22 carries for 105 yards) outrushed UK's entire team.
"We just hit the holes they made," Perry said. "When they were small, we got through them, but some of them were really big. I didn't know there would be holes that big."
In a series dominated by the team that plays more physically up front and has better success establishing the run, the Cardinals blasted for 219 net yards on 46 carries, marking the 17th straight game in the series that the team with the rushing edge has won. In 11 of the last 14 meetings, the winning team's top rusher has gained more yards on the ground than the entire losing team.
To narrow Sunday's success further, U of L ran behind the right side of the line -- Jake Smith and Jamon Brown -- 20 times for 151 yards.
"Coaches always say things that happen during camp, during summer, they'll show up on Saturday during the season," Benavides said. "Those running backs all camp, every scrimmage, were breaking long runs, scoring touchdowns. And our coaches told us, if we do our job, they'll do the exact same thing during the games."
On the pass protection side, U of L gave up three sacks, but for the most part quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had all the time he needed to pick the UK defense apart for 232 yards and 19 completions in 21 throws.
"We gave him some time early on, and even when we didn't he managed it really well," Benavides said. "He just goes out there and does his job, so as long as we do ours, he's going to do great things, because he's a special player."
Workmanlike as all that sounds, U of L coach Charlie Strong still seemed a bit surprised that his offense looked as polished as it did in all phases.
"We were able to take the ball in the first four possessions and score three touchdowns," Strong said. "It was just amazing to see how we just clicked on offense today. Teddy Bridgewater had an unbelievable day. We also had two running backs to rush for over 100 yards. I told our team that I have to give credit to our offensive line because they did a great job of blocking up front. They don't get enough credit. If you look at Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry are two different styles and still able to get 100 yards each.
". . . I do not know if I expected the offense to perform as well as they did because a lot of the time you just do not know how well the guys will play together and get in sync. They were able to get in sync, stay in sync and move the ball up and down the field."
Saturday, August 30 2014 3:51 PM EDT2014-08-30 19:51:46 GMT
The University of Kentucky football team got some big plays from young players and a steady start from quarterback Patrick Towles to pound Tennessee-Martin 59-14 in their first season opener at home since 2007.More >>
The University of Kentucky football team got some big plays from young players and a steady start from quarterback Patrick Towles to pound Tennessee-Martin 59-14 in their first season opener at home since 2007. More >>
Tuesday, August 26 2014 10:16 PM EDT2014-08-27 02:16:12 GMT
Teddy Bridgewater says thank you to U of L students in an ad in its student paper. Eric Crawford photo.
Teddy Bridgewater had one more classy move for University of Louisville students and fans -- he said Thank You with an ad in the semester's first edition of The Louisville Cardinal student newspaper.More >>
Teddy Bridgewater had one more classy move for University of Louisville students and fans -- he said Thank You with an ad in the semester's first edition of The Louisville Cardinal student newspaper. More >>