BOZICH | Kyle Bolin outperforms his dream -- and saves Louisvill - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Kyle Bolin outperforms his dream -- and saves Louisville against Kentucky

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Kyle Bolin threw for 381 yards in three quarters, leading Louisville to a comeback win over Kentucky. Kyle Bolin threw for 381 yards in three quarters, leading Louisville to a comeback win over Kentucky.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kyle Bolin. Once voted least likely to impersonate Teddy Bridgewater at the University of Louisville. His last completion was during the Truman Administration.

Kyle Bolin. Afterthought. Defensive coordinators could not game plan against him. There was no video to study.

Kyle Bolin. Better grab my U of L media guide. The only other things I could tell you about Bolin are he played at Lexington Catholic and that he was never convinced the University of Kentucky wanted him as a quarterback.

That Kyle Bolin, the one who led the Cardinals to an over, under, sideways, down, 44-40, comeback victory over UK Saturday.

The one who started the season as a fourth-stringer, battled his way to third-stringer and then inched up the depth chart to second stringer (when Will Gardner was injured).

Suddenly Bolin found himself as Get in the Game Guy after Louisville quarterback Reggie Bonnafon twisted to the Papa John's Cardinal Stadium turf with a game-ending knee injury Saturday.

The score was Kentucky 13, Louisville 0. The time was 11:22 to play in the second quarter. The situation was Absolute Upset Alert.

Even Louisville coach Bobby Petrino was not certain what to say to Bolin when he waved him into the game. Bolin had only attempted seven passes this season, none since Sept. 20.

“I said, ‘Let's go, Kyle. Here we go, baby. Your turn,‘ “ Petrino said, with a bit of a laugh.

That's it?

“That's about it,” Petrino said. “There was no ‘Win one for The Gipper speech' or anything like that.

“It was, ‘OK, we're going empty (backfield) and throw it around.' I think he was a little shocked that we were going to go empty and throw it around.”

After the game, everybody knew what to say. That Kyle Bolin, with invaluable assistance from DeVante Parker, Gerod Holliman, his offensive line and a cast of thousands, saved the Cardinals.

That he completed 21 of 31 passes for 381 yards and three touchdowns, enriching the resume of Petrino's ability to develop and squeeze big games out of his quarterbacks. Petrino knew Bolin was more comfortable playing in an empty backfield with at least four wide receivers so that is the formation Louisville employed.

That he threw a 45-yard touchdown strike to DeVante Parker on his second throw. That he marched the Cardinals 81 yards for the game-winning touchdown in the final 5:31, teaming with Parker (again) for his final completion, a 26-yarder that put the ball at the Kentucky 13.

That he threw for more yards than Browning Nagle, Dave Ragone or Jay Gruden ever did during a regular season game for the Cardinals -- in only 41 minutes. Not only was the yardage a season best for the Cardinals, it was the 22nd highest regular-season total in U of L history.

That Bolin, 20 and a redshirt freshman, played with more poise and precision that anybody could have expected.

“I didn't have a dream (that he saved the day) but before every game I kind of picture myself out there playing,” Bolin said.

He laughed.

“But it wasn't this good,” he said. “It's just all surreal. It's ridiculous. My team calling on me to come in there. My teammates having my back. I love every single one of them.”

More memories. Three touchdowns. Strike after strike to Parker. Both hands wrapped around the Governor's Cup after the game, sealing Louisville's 9-3 record and fourth consecutive victory over Kentucky.

That word Bolin used -- surreal. It fit.

You remember the outline of the Bolin story. Committed to Louisville when Charlie Strong was still the Cardinals' coach.

Joker Phillips, then the Kentucky coach, hesitated before he was willing to burn a scholarship on the hometown kid. Why? He already had Patrick Towles in his program.

Although he was in Lexington, Bolin grew up a Tennessee fan because his mother loved the Vols. He was convinced that Kentucky wanted him before he attended UK's camp prior to his junior season. Bolin thought he performed well at the camp – and then Kentucky hesitated before offering a scholarship. Bolin told Mark Story of that the situation felt like somebody had spit in his eye.

Not another word was said about the snub – until Saturday.

“(Kentucky) recruited me but they kind of held off on an offer,” Bolin said. “When Louisville offered me, I was excited to get an offer from Louisville. I thought that was the best spot for me.”

Bolin did not play a snap last season. No reason. Teddy Bridgewater ran the show. Louisville was grooming Will Gardner to take over.

Gardner proved that he was the guy during Louisville's spring game. But Bonnafon rocketed past Bolin on the depth chart during the first two weeks of fall practice. Some thought Bolin was also buried behind Brett Nelson. Bolin admitted that he was closer to the bottom of the depth chart because of the time he missed with a knee injury.

When the season began, Bolin was getting six practice reps per day, but only during 7-on-7 drills. Nothing during 11-on-11 live drills. Now there is video evidence that he can handle 11-on-11 football at the college level.

“We had confidence in him,” Petrino said.

They have even more confidence now.

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