BOZICH | Post-Snap Read: Louisville handles Kent State, squirrel, injuries, post-Clemson letdown
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jawon Pass finally made his debut after Lamar Jackson set the Louisville record for touchdowns accounted for as the Cardinals dispatched Kent State.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – This is the only snapshot you need from Louisville’s 42-3 victory over Kent State Saturday afternoon at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium:
Play stopped with about 4 minutes left in the first half. Players from both teams huddled on the sidelines. They ignored their coaches. They stared at the video board. Nobody moved. Nobody was injured. Everybody cheered.
A squirrel trickled onto the field not from the Louisville bench. He found a comfortable and toasty spot around the 42-yard line. He parked.
Slick The Squirrel did not move.
Fans and players roared. This ball game was already over. Louisville was ahead, 21-0, cruising toward the Cardinals' third win in four games.
Assured that he had everybody’s attention, Slick the Squirrel performed. He rambled toward the north end zone, moving in slow bursts until he approached the 20. Smelling glory, he accelerated, racing through the red zone for the score.
"I heard everyone cheering and stuff," U of L quarterback Lamar Jackson. "Then I noticed the squirrel out there. It was funny. All of us started laughing. It was cool. He scored a touchdown."
Slick ran for more yards than Kent State.
"Yeah," Jackson said. "He got more than me, I think, too."
At that point, Slick had outrushed the visitors, who received a $1 million guarantee check for their troubles. He was captured and placed in a bag by local singer Stephen Gould, who worked on the audio crew at the game. Gould showed me a Snapchat video of him releasing the squirrel outside the stadium.
Kent State is a proud program from the Mid-American Conference. Nick Saban is an alumnus. So is James Harrison. Ditto for Antonio Gates, Lou Holtz, Julian Edelman and Jack Lambert.
Guys like that aren’t walking through the door for 1-3 Golden Flashes this season.
This game was over after one drive. Lamar Jackson found tight end Jordan Davis deep into the Kent secondary on the game’s first play. Davis made the catch and carried his prize to the Kent 6, for a 69-yard reception. Four plays later Malik Williams blasted into the end zone to give Louisville a 7-0 lead.
The Cards stretched their advantage to 21-0 by the end of the first quarter, 28-3 at halftime and 35-3 after their first second-half possession. By game’s end sizzling Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was less than a quarter full.
"We were sporadic," U of L coach Bobby Petrino said. "I liked the way we opened the game. Took the ball right down the field and scored. I liked what we did right before the half. It was a nice two-minute drive, nice job of executing.
"I'm really disappointed in the turnovers. I didn't feel we would come in here and turn the ball over."
Some numbers on Louisville’s victory:
1 – career touchdowns by senior receiver Javonte Bagley, who flashed 15 yards for his first TD after catching a pass from Jackson with 2:23 to play in the third quarter.
2 – rushing touchdowns by halfback Malik Williams, the first multiple touchdown game of his career. Williams scored from 3 and 33 yards in the first quarter, finishing with 47 yards on nine carries. He ran like the Cards’ best back between the tackles. "Malik does nice job of seeing the hole and accelerating," Petrino said. "I think that's the thing he gives us, acceleration and power."
3 – Turnovers by Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. He threw his first interception in the second quarter and then another on the Cards’ second possession of the second half. Jackson also lost a fumble in the second quarter. "It's unfortunate the one pick was right in Dez (Fitzpatrick's) hands and then I don't know what happened on the other one," Petrino said. "You'll have to ask (Lamar) because that's unusual for him. I don't know if he had pressure in his face or whatever, but the ball just got away from him."
4 – Turnovers by Louisville. Receiver Josh Johnson fumbled through the endzone midway through the fourth quarter after completing a 31-yard reception from second-team quarterback Jawon Pass.
4 – Louisville starters who missed the game. Receiver Jaylen Smith was held out because of a wrist injury. Petrino is uncertain when Smith will return. "The time table is up in the air a little bit, but he won't play next week for sure," Petrino said. Defensive lineman Drew Bailey could have played but was held out with assorted injuries. Cornerback Jaire Alexander did not return from the knee injury he suffered against Purdue. Linebacker Stacy Thomas served a one-game suspension for violation of team rules. Reserve tight end Micky Crum was sidelined by illness.
6 – NFL scouts who observed from the press box.
7 -- career interceptions by cornerback Trumaine Washington, who returned one 37 yards for a touchdown and then lost another pick because of Louisville penalty.
8 -- Passing attempts by redshirt freshman quarterback Jawon Pass, who entered the game early in the fourth quarter and completed an 8-yard pass to Josh Johnson on his first attempt. "I liked what I saw from Puma," Petrino said. "He executed. He made a check out there to a really nice run play. He did a good job ... But we didn't get him in enough. That's what is disappointing to me is that we weren't able to get enough points on the board to get him in earlier in the game."
9 -- team-leading tackles by freshman linebacker Dorian Etheridge, who has 19 tackles on the season.
10 -- number of true freshmen who have played for Louisville this season lineman Caleb Chandler and tight end Kemari Averett were waved into the game.
11 -- passing yards allowed by Louisville's defense, the fewest yards the Cards have allowed against an FBS opponent since 1979 against Wichita State. "We just needed to get back into our groove after last week's game," Etheridge said. "We were just out there flying around."
12 – days until Louisville’s next major test, a trip to North Carolina State. The Wolfpack defeated 12th-ranked Florida State, 27-21, in Tallahassee. Louisville will host Murray State next Saturday before traveling to Raleigh on Oct. 5. That's a Thursday night game, which means a quick turnaround to play a North Carolina State game that figures to improve to 4-1 at home against Syracuse next weekend.
13 – yards gained by freshman cornerback Russ Yeast on his first career punt return.
42 – final Las Vegas point spread on the game, so the Cards failed to cover.
75 -- career high receiving day from Seth Dawkins on four receptions.
88 – touchdowns Jackson is responsible either for passing or running during his career at Louisville, eclipsing Chris Redman’s school record 87. Jackson earned the record Saturday by running for one touchdown and passing for two. Number 88 arrived on the 15-yard strike to Bagley.
180 – minutes Kent has played this season against FBS opponents without scoring a touchdown.
333 – yards accounted for by Jackson, who completed 18 of 22 throws for 299 yards and also ran eight times for 34 yards.
530 -- career points that Jackson is responsible for running or throwing. He needs seven points to overtake Redman, who accounted for 536 points from 1996-99.
41,812 – Announced crowd, about 76 percent of capacity and a decline of 13,776 from the raucous Clemson crowd a week earlier.
Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.