Darn you, Charlie Strong. Got us all fired up with that big win at West Virginia, and left us thinking maybe you’d figured out how to move the ball, that you’d got the young QB, Teddy Bridgewater, to show some brilliance. That you were more than a defensive-minded coach. Bowl game? Maybe.
So I went over to the game with Pittsburgh yesterday, figuring there would be more improvement from this team, with talk of a Big East title in the air. Tried to forget those debacles against Marshall and Florida International. I parked (free) and tailgated with my buddies in the parking lot, coughed up $10 to a student for a ticket, bought one of those pre-game $4 beers on the terrace, and then joined friends in the upper deck, at the 50. A slight breeze made for perfect conditions, with a beautiful panorama sweeping from Churchill Downs to downtown. Our conversation concerned various bowl game opportunities.
Then the game started. Pitt took the opening kickoff and marched it down the Cards’ throats for a TD. Bridgewater threw an interception on the next possession, followed by a series of failed drives and punts by both teams. Yawn. Haftime 7-0. How did this team score 38 points against West Virginia?
The 2nd half was not much better. Pitt scored on its opening possession to open it up to 14-0. A late 3rd quarter Cards’ TD, after Pitt handed U of L the ball on the 11 after a 6-yard punt, provided some hope. But that was it. When U of L failed to field a 4th quarter punt, that was it.
After the game, Strong said his team was running on “fake juice.” The truth is the Cards aren’t yet good enough to win consistently. Pittsburgh wasn’t that good, but it didn’t have to be yesterday. It doesn’t mean the Cards won’t get there. It means that they’re as likely to score 0 as 50.
On the other hand, scoreboard watchers rationalized that UK was losing by 30 to Vanderbilt, surpassing a mark of futility not reached in four decades. The football program here is in much better shape than the one in Lexington, and no one’s talking about replacing the coach, a topic that will dominate what little discussion of football there will be around here next week.