We're only five games into this season, and I'm already sick and tired of these motherf---ing snakes on this motherf---ing plane having teams declare "Revenge!" or "Justice!" on UConn this season.
Three weeks ago, UConn forever ended the Temple Owls' hopes for a dream season. And yet it didn't stop the whining about missed calls from years past. (Particularly the site I linked, is some kind of paranoid. The post complaining about calls which, if called the other way, would have resulted in a 42-6 Temple win or some such, has been deleted, Soviet-style.)
But I digress.
Tonight, the 4-0 Huskies travel to the home of bourbon, horsies!, and the people who gave us "Happy Birthday" for the Big East opener. And oh yeah, they are righteously pissed, for some reason.
Game preview, anger management therapy, and the match-ups, all after the jump.
The big story, of course - the story that has gotten even real, paid, professional columnists to whine like civic, athletic boosters - is Larry Taylor's 'Unfair Catch' punt return for a touchdown in last year's game.
That play, which made the score 7-7 early in the third quarter, accounted for all 21 UConn points - and all six UL losses last year - in a narrow victory at Rentschler Field. Yes, Louisville took a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and let the Huskies drive all over them for two scores (both worth zero points), but shut up.
Louisville fans, righteously angry, are placated by the fact that it was gonna be OK, and they'll get 'em next year, dadgum it.
I kid, I kid, Louisville fans. In fact, none of these jokes would be made if it weren't for the near-constant message-board whining for the last 12 months.
Apparently, everyone in the Louisville area turned the game off at the point of the fair catch, or they'd remember the blown call on a fumbled punt, which UConn should have taken at the 1-yard line.
And apparently, all that UConn momentum from Taylor's play was worth -10 points because, hey, it was 17-7.
Now, we can do this one of two ways. We can either annoy the hell out of each other with this stupid play until the day one of the programs gets kicked out of the Big East for Temple-level futility, or we can agree to a compromise. Maybe we can get the guy(s?) behind Card Chronicle, a cool site that is on my bookmarks, to be an envoy. He (they?) seems pretty reasonable.
- RESOLVED, that Larry Taylor, after asking a referee for clarification (like, say, a wide receiver on/off the line of scrimmage does on every play), did not break the letter of the law, and that
- RESOLVED, that the fake punt return was kinda d-bag ish, and that
- RESOLVED, if all calls were made correctly in last year's game, Louisville would still have lost, because their defense was Syracuse-level awful, and that
- RESOLVED, that Rock Keys is one of the most baller names you can have, and that
- RESOLVED, we've always kind of liked the idea of drinking mint julips, and that
- RESOLVED, we're all in this together now that the Big East sucks again.
- THEREFORE, UConn fans agree that the play was in poor taste - but not responsible for the win - and Louisville fans agree to stop b-tching like Boston College fans (or UK fans, I guess is applicable). We all agree to move on with our lives, and to only bring the play up as a way to mock the other side.
- THIS TREATY shall go into effect as of 12:01 a.m., Saturday, following the hostilities at Slightly Better Than Dominoes Stadium.
See, aren't we feeling much more civilized today? And I didn't even bring up the ridiculously bad call the refs made against UConn at Papa Johns' two years ago.
So, wait, where was I? Oh, right. There's a game tonight on ESPN2 at 8:00. I guess you probably want to know about it:
UConn (4-0, 0-0 Big East) at Louisville (2-1, 0-0 Big East)
Friday, 8 p.m., ESPN2 -- Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, Louisville
Line: Louisville, minus-3.5
COMBAT, OF THE ON-FIELD VARIETY:
UConn Offense v. Louisville Defense
Oh boy (#1). Louisville comes in with one of the best run defenses in the country thus far. Neither Kansas State nor Kentucky is all that proficient at running the football, but nevertheless the Cards are second-best in the nation at stopping the run.
They'll face a UConn offense that is, like, all about rushing the football.
Donald Brown is first in the nation in rushing, racking up 150 yards against a stacked Baylor defensive front. Of course, Baylor is bad at defense.
Brown is good, but even he can't get holes against an solid eight-man front without some help from Tyler Lorenzen. Experience tells me that, logically, Brown will not be getting any holes tonight.
Lorenzen has been an utter disaster passing the ball in four of UConn's last five games, going back to the Meineke Car Care Bowl. One passing touchdown (to fullback Anthony Sherman) and six drive-killing throws to the other team bears that out.
The usual criticism of this argument is "4-0," or "13-4" (Lorenzen's career record), but come on. This isn't the NFL, where going 13-4 means something. Florida State proved they'd go 8-0 in the Southern Conference this year; doesn't mean they should be happy with subpar quarterbacking.
Lorenzen worked for UConn last year because he threw less than 0.5 interceptions per game. With drives finishing off with points (or at least field position), UConn's defense could do its thing, hand the ball back over, and we could all pretend UConn was a a top-15 team for that one week.
Unfortunately, I don't think Cody Endres or Zach Frazier is the answer at the moment, which means we are stuck. I suppose there's nothing else to do but hope the passing game is competent.
UConn Defense v. Louisville Offense
Oh boy (#2). Louisville's offense finally started to click last week against Kansas State (winning 38-29) after scoring 2 points against Kentucky in their opener.
UConn's defense is very solid. Teams that are mediocre at one or both facets of offense get shut down fairly regularly.
However, I've noticed two weaknesses in UConn's defense over the last 17 games or so: when the opposing offense has a mobile QB, and when the other team plays more physical.
Obviously, we saw last week how UConn's linebackers were utterly confused against Robert Griffin of Baylor. Griffin's rushing numbers weren't spectacular, but he slowed defenders enough to get his receivers open for slant passes 34 times, if my frustration remembers correctly.
That won't be a problem this week. Hunter Cantwell is a big, pocket passer with a cannon. So he should get hammered if UConn can get into Louisville's backfield.
Of course, Louisville doesn't give their backfield up for just anyone. Six sacks in three games is a pretty OK number.
But the real key will be the running game. Freshman Victor Anderson broke out with a 176-yard, 3-TD performance against K-State. Anderson was shut down against Kentucky, but if Louisville can take it to UConn's defensive line, it'll leave Cantwell with wide open throwing lanes. If that happens, it could get ugly.
Push (Only because Kansas State may be a poor measuring stick. I'm still a bit skeptical about the UL running game. And I like UConn's defense against anyone who can't move out of the way.)
Special Teams and Coaching
Did I mention
As for coaching, there is no FireRandyEdsall.com, nor are there hilarious photoshopped "inspiration posters" saying as much. So I give you two gifts:
Also, Kragthorpe referred to Tyler Lorenzen as the "Tim Tebow of the Big East" earlier this week.
Other things Steve Kragthorpe thinks: Dave Wannstadt is the Vince Lombardi of the Big East; Providence men's basketball is the LA Lakers of the Big East, and Brett Favre is the gunslinger who loves to play football of the Big East. That wacky Krags.
Is Your Town Better Than Storrs?
Uh, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say yeah. They've got the Kentucky Derby, Muhammad Ali, and a baseball bat factory.
We've got ... E.O. Smith football at the Sherman Complex.
As a sidenote, Louisville's Arena Football 2 (the minor league of indoor football) team, the Fire, does put it even with Connecticut as far as professional sports go.
Well, when it comes to football, UConn has no one who can match Johnny Unitas. But when it comes to basketball and acting, Louisville has no one to match Ray Allen (the actor).
UConn has the slight advantage when it comes to basketball coaches, although I'll refrain from making a "Derrick Caracter isn't walking through that door" joke until AT LEAST December.
Connecticut senator Chris Dodd (D) has a hand in both jars, as it were. He grew up in Willimantic (about 5 minutes down the road from UConn) but went to school at U of L, according to Wikipedia. I don't know who that insults more.
Someone named Stuart Scott, who is not the "Boo Yah!" guy, also graduated from Louisville. We've got Molly Qerim (class of '06).
I guess the deciding edge comes down to which Tom Jackson you like more: the the one that has to deal with Chris Berman or the UConn coach from 1983-1993.
Homeriffic Prediction of the Week:
I don't know about this game. Is Louisville back to being good? Is UConn totally a one-dimensional offense, or is it just most of the time? Will Larry Taylor be watching from un restaurant qu'il s'appelle <Applebees> á la belle ville de Montreal?
Worst case scenario for UConn is to get down by 10 or more in the first half. They don't have the offense to keep up with Louisville. Scoring first is going to be huge.
The result hinges on whether you think Donald Brown is Superman or not. Right now, he's in Clark Kent costume. He's close to that phone booth, but if only there weren't half-a-dozen large men in red-and-black jerseys standing in front of it.
Prediction: Louisville 28, UConn 20