CRAWFORD | Three and out: Thoughts on U of L's 34-3 win at FIU - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Three and out: Thoughts on U of L's 34-3 win at FIU

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 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The final score reads Louisville 34, Florida International 3, but it was anything but a clean, crisp performance for the Cardinals.

In fact, U of L will come home licking some wounds. Quarterback Will Gardner left the game in the third quarter after a late hit to his left knee. Michael Dyer made his return to the team, but appeared to aggravate his thigh injury and didn't play in the second half.

There was a bright spot or two -- the biggest being James Quick. But overall, the Cards come away with just as many red flags as they took to Miami. A Virginia team they struggled to move the ball against gave up 41 points in a loss at BYU. U of L coach Bobby Petrino still hasn't hit on the right offensive line chemistry. And the Cards are still hurting themselves with negative yardage plays on offense. (See final stats by clicking on the bottom image at right).

The day begin with a one hour, 15 minute rain and lightning delay, and the Cards never could quite find a rhythm. Still, they win big, and get to return home for their next game.

A look at some keys:

1). QUICK TIME. James Quick, a sophomore wideout, had the kind of coming-out game people were expecting of him when he signed as a highly-touted prospect out of Trinity High School. Quick had seven catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns, accounting for better than 50 percent of the Cardinals' net yardage.

His biggest highlight reel play came in the second quarter, when he outfought a defender for the ball on the right sideline, wheeled away while managing to stay in bounds, then sprinted down the sideline for a 74-yard TD reception.

2). GEROD HOLLIMAN PROVIDES THE SPARK.
The safety had interceptions on back-to-back FIU passes, the first of which was a pick-six that put U of L up 14-0 and lit a fire under the Cardinals. Holliman now-has back-to-back two interception games and leads the nation in picks. He finished the game with three tackles, two interceptions and a pass-break up.

3). OFFENSE CONTINUED TO STRUGGLE.
Let's run through these. I'm sure we'll be discussing and writing about them a great deal this week.

-- The running game was stifled. Officially, the Cardinals were credited with 12 net yards rushing on 35 carries. The offensive line got little push, and fumbles and negative-yardage plays were costly. FIU had nine tackles for loss in the game. Petrino told Craig Swabek on his postgame radio show with Learfield Sports that some of that was that FIU was determined to stop the run.

"They were playing a little kamikaze defense," Petrino said." They were trying to load everybody up in there and stop the run and for a while we were a little bullheaded and kept trying to do it. Finally in the second quarter we just said hey let's call it and just throw it down the field, and James  just got open and made some plays for us."

-- Gardner struggled, then picked things up a bit, then got hurt. His health will be a major concern heading into next week's home game against Wake Forest. But it still wasn't a sharp effort. His connection with Quick notwithstanding, he lost a fumble in the red zone and struggled to reach a consistent place. He finished with 16 completions in 28 attempts and threw for two touchdowns, without an interception.

"I wish (freshman) Reggie (Bonnafon) would have been here," Petrino said. "It's (quarterback play) been up and down a little bit. We've had some moments where we need to improve."

READ MORE ABOUT THE GAME FROM ERIC CRAWFORD AT WDRB.COM LATER TONIGHT.

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