Tomorrow morning, Miami will wake up in south Florida and begin preparation for an opponent other than Louisville. That’s a wonderful thing for Al Golden and his football program. In closing the 2013 season and opening this season with losses to these Cardinals (36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl, 31-13 tonight), Miami watched its offense score two total touchdowns in 23 possessions. That may sound bad – okay, it is bad – but the ‘Canes have been better at scoring touchdowns than converting third downs. They went a combined 1-for-23 there.
True freshman Brad Kaaya earned the start, playing about as well as you could reasonably expect an 18-year-old making his first start in a conference road game could play, hitting 17-of-29 throws for 174 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Duke Johnson contributed a workmanlike 20 carries for 90 yards.
Missed opportunities will be the story for Miami after the Hurricanes twice inherited the ball inside Louisville’s 10 yard line and came away with a total of three points. But perhaps the biggest blown chance of the night came early in the fourth quarter, when Kaaya hit Johnson on a wheel route that would have given Miami a first-and-goal at the 5 and a chance to pull within one score, but offensive lineman Danny Isidora was hit with an ineligible receiver downfield penalty, negating the entire play. Two plays later Kaaya was sacked for a loss of 11 yards, and two plays after that Miami turned the ball over on downs.
Louisville then took over at its own 33, leisurely marched 67 yards in 14 plays, ate up an oh-so-valuable 7:47 off the clock, and pushed the score to 31-13.
Ball, meet game.
In the re-debut of Bobby Petrino at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, it was the Cardinal running game that powered his highly-respected offense. Dominique Brown rushed 33 times for 143 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Will Gardner added 206 passing yards and two touchdowns (plus two lost fumbles) in his first start. The win moves Petrino to 42-9 at Louisville, and an impressive 23-1 at home.
Most importantly, the win moves Louisville to 1-0 all-time in ACC play, thereby placing the Cardinals atop the conference record books for all-time winning percentage.