BOZICH | Post-Snap Read: Louisville pops Murray; Petrino hopes Jurich returns
Louisville improved to 4-1 by defeating Murray State Saturday. The Cards face a five-day turnaround before playing at North Carolina State Thursday night.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – In other news, Louisville played football Saturday.
The Cardinals defeated Murray State, 55-10, at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Back to the headlines: Talk about the basketball program and the events of the last five days was inescapable.
Suite 521, the athletic director’s suite, a suite that has been home only to Tom Jurich since 1998, was open but more subdued and a less congested hub of booster activity.
“It was a little bit of a wake in there early on,” one friend of Jurich said. “But as the game went on, there was more energy. Everybody wanted to come out just to show their support for the university and for Tom.”
Another person in the box was supportive of Jurich, saying school leaders “needed to think long and hard,” about dismissing the athletic director who has been the face of the program for two decades. Jurich was placed on a paid administrative leave Wednesday, a day after news broke about a federal investigation of a pay for play scheme in college athletics, including Rick Pitino's basketball program.
Jurich is the athletic director who gave Petrino his first head coaching opportunity in 2003 -- and brought him back to Louisville in 2014 from Western Kentucky. Petrino was fired at Arkansas in 2012.
"I can't say enough about what he's meant to me and my family," Petrino said. "Besides being my boss, he's really a close friend so we're hoping he'll be back."
I did not see chicken breasts and burgers being grilled at the prime parking spot where the U of L basketball team tailgated in the shadow of Central Avenue two weeks ago.
That was when Clemson was in town and Pitino had the time of his life, picking games while wearing a Lamar Jackson No. 8 jersey on ESPN’s College GameDay.
Those were the days -- and many U of L fans thought they would never end. There was little reason to restrain imagination for the football or basketball programs. Like Jurich, Pitino was also absent but his leave is unpaid.
The crowd was announced at 47,826, an increase of 14 from the Kent State crowd last week.
"It's been a hard week and heartbreaking for our university and our city," Petrino said. "But one of the things we wanted to do as a team was just really focus and come together and go out and play well and give some inspiration to our fans and city of Louisville."
The loudest ovation stirred at halftime. Fans stood, roared and embraced the basketball team, which will begin practice Sunday without Pitino for the first time since 2001. Acting coach David Padgett watched from a suite, determined to cede the spotlight to his players.
Strange times? That description doesn’t touch it.
Surreal week? Keep trying.
The Cards face a quick turnaround and solid challenge at North Carolina State Thursday at 8 p.m. The Wolfpack improved to 4-1 Saturday, dispatching Syracuse, 33-25, in Raleigh.
Some Post-Game Numbers
1 -- injury suffered by the Cards. Freshman halfback Colin Wilson exited after his knee was twisted to the turf in the second half. His status for Thursday is unclear. Petrino, however, said that injured cornerback Jaire Alexander practice last week and is closer to returning to the lineup.
2 – Lamar Jackson’s ranking on the school’s all-time rushing list. He passed Nathan Poole in the second quarter on his way to a 100-yard game. Jackson sits at 2,968 yards, positioning himself to overtake Walter Peacock at North Carolina State.
Peacock, a halfback, needed four seasons and 811 carries to gain 3,204 yards. Jackson has played less than 2 ½ seasons while rushing 495 times.
6 – consecutive victories over the Racers for the Cardinals, who have not lost a game to Murray since 1984, a 26-23 defeat that likely triggered the move to fire Bob Weber and eventually replace him with Howard Schnellenberger.
9– yardage on both touchdown receptions by Dez Fitzpatrick, the Cards’ redshirt freshman receiver. His pair of TD catches against the Racers bumped Fitzpatrick’s season total to 6, tops on the team.
14 -- receivers who caught at least one pass for Louisville. Four Cardinals had TD receptions, two by Fitzpatrick, one by Reggie Bonnafon and another by Javonte Bagley.
33 -- advantage in first downs by the Cardinals, who generated 38, 16 rushing and 18 passing.
81 – combined length of the two field goals delivered by Blanton Creque, who connected from 37 and 44 yards. The 44-yard kick was Creque’s longest this season. He’s pitching a perfect game, connecting on all seven field goal attempts.
94 – receiving yards by Corey Reed, a freshman from Fulton, Ga. Reed made four catches, the first of his career.
121 -- hour turnaround from the Murray game to the kickoff at North Carolina State. The Cardinals were beaten, 36-10, at Houston on a five-day turnaround last season. But that was after playing a formidable Wake Forest game at night. Louisville defensive back Chucky Williams said the Cardinals have learned from the 2016 stumble.
"Just get more prepared than usual," Williams said. "You can never get too prepared for a game.
151 – total yards by backup quarterback Jawon Pass, who earned snaps in the second quarter. Credit Pass with a passing touchdown as well as a rushing touchdown. He finished 14 of 19 for 115 yards passing while rushing nine times for 36 yards.
349 – total yards by Jackson, who ranked second nationally (behind UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen) after four games with an average of 431 yards.
676 – yards of total offense by the Cardinals, 312 rushing and 364 passing. The Cards limited Murray, an FCS program to 80 yards, 19 rushing.
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