The University of Louisville football suffered their first defeat of the season on Friday night at the hands of Central Florida, and while players and coaches admitted that the loss stings, the Cards have many encouraging aspects to focus on moving forward.
Arguably the biggest bright spot for the Cardinals was the play of junior wide receiver Eli Rogers. In hands-down his best performance of the season, Rogers hauled in 10 passes for 95 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown in the first drive of the game.
His 10 catches ties a single-game career high, which he set in last November's loss to Syracuse, and the first quarter touchdown now marks his fourth-consecutive contest with a scoring catch.
"It's definitely a confidence-builder," Rogers said of his big statistical night. Rogers was, however, quick to point out that his goal is always about more than individual success.
"I'm a team player, and I just hurts me that we lost," Rogers said. "So I'm not really even worried about my own stats."
With four touchdown receptions on the season, Rogers has now tied his 2012 total with five games left in the regular season.
On a night when DeVante Parker was coming back from injury and Kai De La Cruz didn't play because of a hamstring, Rogers proved once again to be old-reliable for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The quarterback and receiver grew up and played their high school football together at Miami Northwestern High School before choosing to attend Louisville as a tandem. The duo even have a pre-game ritual that dates back to their high school days.
Just before the opening kickoff of each game, the childhood friends trot out on the field to get a few quick routes in as the special teams units huddle.
"(That's something we do) every game," Rogers said. "We just run out there to get his arm loose, and I always run out there on the field with him."
Even with the big performance, Rogers insists there is more he needs to work on as the team now prepares for a trip to South Florida next Saturday.
"We're going to go over the film tomorrow and just see what I have to correct- just try to get better at blocking and my route-detail."
He's also aware of the importance of his role as a leader.
"I just try to do my job and tell everybody to keep their head up and things like that," Rogers said. "A lot of us give it our all, so we can't be mad. We just have to build up off of this."