During the past couple weeks, a lot has been made about coach Bobby Petrino’s mannerisms, his relationships with his coaches, his relationships with his players and, most of all, his sordid past.
But the one thing no one questioned about Louisville’s new head coach was his ability to coach — and win.
In his and Louisville’s ACC debut, the Cardinals dominated Miami 31-13 and came out of the weekend looking like one of the top teams in the ACC.
Now, it’s important to put this win in perspective. Miami has had its struggles. It’s lost five of its last seven games and all of those losses have been by 18 or more points. The Hurricanes also started a true freshman quarterback in Brad Kaaya and while he had moments of brilliance, he looked like a true freshman on some of his decisions.
But none of that should take away from Louisville dominating performance, which included two interceptions and limited the Miami running game to just 70 yards. Overall, Miami mustered just 244 yards of total offense.
Offensively, the Cardinals were a little ragged. New starting quarterback Will Gardner, who was taking over for the departed Teddy Bridgewater, had two fumbles, but he did show off a rocket arm and threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns. What was perhaps most impressive about the Louisville offense was it’s running game, a weapon that had ben missing in the past. Dominique Brown had 33 carries for 143 yards and a score and he’s not even the Cardinals top running back. That honor belongs to Michael Dyer, who was sidelined with injury.
So, there’s a lot of potential in this Louisville offense that could be realized as the season treks on. And let’s be honest, not one of the perceived top ACC teams really had a great showing this weekend. Florida State won, but quarterback Jameis Winston struggled and Clemson was eaten up by the Georgia running game. In fact, Florida State allowed 161 rushing yards to Oklahoma State, a team not known for its strong rushing presence. That, combined with the way Louisville ran the ball on Monday and it suffocating defense, could make the Cardinals a serious threat in the ACC Atlantic Division.
And all the credit goes to Petrino. He quickly quieted his doubters and showed exactly why Louisville was willing to bring him back for a second chance despite the shady way he left the team in 2007. He's a winner, has been everywhere he's gone, and those kinds of coaches, even if they are a little rough around the edges, are tough to find.
For more Louisville news, visit CardinalSports.com.
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