Louisville coach Bobby Petrino has a more settled quarterback situation than Miami does for the season opener on Sept. 1.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The surest sign that the University of Louisville football program is about to be liberated from the AAC, Big East, Conference USA and the other leagues that inspired more snickers than praise is this reminder:
The Cardinals open their 2014 season at home against the Miami Hurricanes at 8 p.m. Sept. 1, prime-time on Labor Day, the sweetest spot on the opening weekend of the college football season.
A legitimate Atlantic Coast Conference game.
In fact, I already have a partial score:
Louisville 2, Miami 0
I can explain. Both schools played their spring games last weekend.
Louisville emerged with a solid answer, Will Gardner, as Teddy Bridgewater's replacement at quarterback. Miami emerged as Question Mark U, still sorting through four contenders after likely starter Ryan Williams suffered an injury to a ligament in his right knee that will keep him on the sidelines until late September.
Cards 1, Canes 0.
Louisville attracted an announced crowd of 27,500 to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Miami reported that 12,160 showed up to watch a scrimmage that the defensive unit won 61-60. Make that 2-0.
The comparative crowd numbers are a reminder that for all the talk about what a remarkable spot Florida is for football, sustaining interest in Miami football is a year-to-year grind. Ask Howard Schnellenberger.
It's the quarterback situation that remains the bigger story for August and September.
If you attended the Louisville spring game, you saw that Will Gardner has skills coach Bobby Petrino can work with, especially with three years of eligibility. He throws a sharp, solid ball. Gardner did not play like a guy in a hurry to jump out of the pocket. He was poised, although the defense was questionable.
For Louisville, the bigger concern will be developing a back-up for Gardner, who completed 32 of 37 passes for 542 yards and four touchdowns – with one interception.
Miami coach Al Golden knows that feeling. Williams was injured eight days before the spring game. Kevin Olsen, a redshirt freshman, was named the starting quarterback for Saturday's scrimmage. After the game Golden said the competition is not over.
"We need someone to emerge," Golden told Dave Hyde of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.
That is not Coach Speak. Olsen completed 7 of 21 passes for 65 yards and an interception. No wonder Miami fans are studying high school videos of incoming freshmen Brad Kaaya (four-star recruit) and Malik Rosier (three stars).
"Clearly, Kevin is ahead of (Gray Crow) right now," Golden told the Miami Herald. "But he was behind Ryan (Williams, actually a transfer from Memphis).
"So I think it's safe to say that not only are those two competing, but the two that come in. We need someone to emerge as not just a leader, but as someone who can execute."
*Spring Football Attendance Scoreboard:
ACC: Florida State 36,000; Clemson 33,000; Notre Dame 27,986; Louisville 27,500; Miami 12,160; Duke 4,000; North Carolina State and Virginia not available.
SEC: Tennessee 68,548; Georgia 46,073; South Carolina 36,412; Florida 35,834; Mississippi State 21,710; LSU 18,565; Ole Miss 15,000; Vanderbilt 8,400.
BIG TEN: Penn State, 72,000; Nebraska 61,772; Ohio State 61,058; Michigan 15,000; Indiana 9,231; Maryland 8,319; Wisconsin 8,204; Purdue 7,175; Illinois 5,105; Minnesota 5,000. (Credit the Hoosiers for a bigger crowd than five B1G schools.)
Louisville draws nearly double the Michigan crowd for a spring football game. What would Bo Schembechler say about that?
Not anything I could post on this website.
*Here's one more reason that Charlie Strong will have to win with defense at Texas this season: The Longhorns lost their starting quarterback David Ash with a fractured left foot during spring practice.
Ash should be healthy for fall practice, but some foot injuries are slow to heal. And Ash has been injury-prone throughout his UT career. He missed time last season with a concussion and more time in 2012 with a rib injury.
Strong only has one other quarterback with college experience – Tyrone Swoopes, who completed 5 of 13 passes as a freshman.