Awful conditions don't stop the Cardinals

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – The University of Louisville pretty much needed a pontoon to finished off Southern Mississippi on Saturday night, but still found a way to win. How bad were the conditions on the field during the downpour?

University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong said he had never seen anything like it and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said he hopes the Cardinals never have to face conditions like it again.

The Cardinals played in the rain for a second straight week, only this time the weather had a serious affect on the game.

More than five inches of rain fell on Roberts Stadium, making the field almost unplayable. There was standing water all over the field, including water on both sidelines that was ankle deep.

"That was thee worst weather I ever played in," safety Calvin Pryor said. "Anything could have happened in that weather."

It was almost a major upset because of the conditions.

Southern Miss jumped out to a 17-6 lead on Louisville before the Cardinals weathered the storm – and the rain – to rally and beat the Golden Eagles 21-17. But after the game the conditions were the talk of the locker room.

"It started coming down and just never let up," Strong said. "I thought might be like last week and let up when we started playing. But in the second quarter it just kept pounding us and I was like, ‘Oh God'.

"Teddy wasn't able to grip the ball. There was no drainage out there, water just puddled up. But look at our team and they never said anything about it."

Bridgewater noted every time the officials spotted the ball it was in a puddle because "that's all there was out there, puddles."

U of L had to scrap nearly all of its planned offensive plays. The Cardinals had planned a lot of one-back sets and throws down the field, but Watson said all those plays had to go out the window.

Watson, who was calling plays from the press box with someone wiping off his window every now and then so he could see, said he just went with lead and gap football running plays for the most part.

"You do whatever you have to do to win a football game," Watson said. "We are built to win in all kind of conditions. That's the nice thing about it."

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater didn't play with his glove on because it was harder to grip the ball with the wetness, while Watson said the staff told all the receivers to remove their gloves before the game.

According to defensive tackle Brandon Dunn, it was even tough for the defensive players with so much standing water on the field.

"It was real slippery out there," he said. "It was hard to get your foot in the ground because you sliding everywhere. But we just had to play through it.

"At halftime, there was no drying out. Some players were getting cold and it was crazy (in the locker room). We gave them plenty of towels to cover them up, we told them we had another 30 minutes, so lets go win."

Strong said many of the errors in the game were caused by the weather.

"I never played in a game like this, all the years coaching I've never been in a game like this where there's a downpour of rain," he said. "Usually it eases up. The quarterbacks couldn't get any grip on it at all. Think about us, we get the two-point play Eli Rogers is wide open, I mean wide open in the end zone. Teddy (Bridgewater) loses his grip and couldn't get it out there."

U of L has now played games in cities that had 11 inches of rain on game day during the past two weekends. It rained six inches at Florida International the previous weekend, but the rain ended early in the game.

Some of the players joked about it raining in two weeks at Pittsburgh.

"We're ready for the rain now," Strong said with a laugh.

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