Morning After: Cardinal domination

Teddy Bridgewater

Louisville was quick to prove that it belongs among the nation's elite on Sunday afternoon. Cardinal Authority looks back at the Cardinals 49-7 rout of visiting Ohio.

The ninth-ranked University of Louisville had to wait until Sunday before taking the field, but the wait was worth it. The Cardinals started quickly against the visiting Ohio Bobcats and never let up in their 49-7 win at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

Led by a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, the Cardinals offense clicked on all cylinders, leaving most amazed at how easy it seemed to move up and down the field. What was equally impressive was the improved play of the defense.

Following a season full of games that saw U of L struggle to play a full 60 minutes and often play at their competitions level, the Cardinals played with a determination from the opening kickoff.

Offense

On Sunday, the Cardinals quickly proved that they have one of the best offensive units in the nation and they did so with near perfection. The offense scored touchdowns on 7 of 12 possessions, including 4 of it's 5 first half drives. They dominated the time of possession and converted an NCAA-leading 13 of 16 third down attempts.

The offense racked up 615 yards, which was the ninth highest total in the nation during the first week of college football.

Teddy Bridgewater completed 82% of his pass attempts while throwing for 355 yards and 5 touchdowns in three quarters of play. His 240.4 quarterback rating is second in the country. Led by Damian Copeland's 6 catches, eight different players recorded a reception.

Using a running back by committee approach, the ground game gained 199 yards. The trio of Senorise Perry, Dominique Brown and Michael Dyer combined for 146 yards and averaged 6.1 yards per carry.

Head coach Charlie Strong said afterwards that the only area that needs immediate improvement is the yellow flag.

"We had some procedural calls that stopped some of those drives and that's what we've got to do a better job of, but very happy with the way our offense played."

Defense

Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford spoke of his defense becoming more aggressive and improving against the run. They did just that against the Bobcats.

Ohio featured two of the nation's best in quarterback Tyler Tettleton and running back Beau Blankenship. Tettleton, a Davey O'Brien watch list candidate, completed only 48% of his attempts. Blakenship, who rushed for a school record 1,600 yards last season, managed just 22 yards on 12 carries.

The first team defense kept the Bobcats out of the end zone, as the lone Ohio score, which came on the last play of the third quarter, came against the second unit.

"It was really great," Strong said of his defense. "You look at the run Beau (Blankenship) had with 1600 yards rushing last year and the quarterback just running the zone read play could hurt you outside. We knew we had to in our gaps and we just wanted to try and give them different looks. We wanted to make sure we got penetration and get in the backfield.

Special Teams

An area of concern last season, the Cardinals special teams looked much improved.

Punter Ryan Johnson averaged 47.5 yards per attempt and there were no muffed balls on any returns.

The only concern was on kickoff where starter John Wallace allowed two to said out of bounds. Matt Nakatani and Josh Appleby also had the opportunity to kickoff.

Overall

The Cardinals left no doubt that they belong among the nation's best programs in their season-opening effort.

"I don't think there is any question that they are a Top 10 team," said Ohio head coach Frank Solich. "The way they played and the way they executed, the quality of athlete, there's no doubt about it they're a Top 10 team. I think it's the best team we've played since I've been at Ohio and that includes Ohio State when they were ranked. So this is just an outstanding football team."

The positives from the 49-7 win are countless. The offense could do just about anything, through the air and on the ground. The weapons are plentiful.

The only concern was Louisville hurting itself. The Cardinals were flagged for 11 penalties.

"It was an outstanding win," said Strong. "It's always good to get that first win behind you. When you look at improvements we can make, it's just the penalties. We got three procedure penalties on the offense and a couple on the kicking game."

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