Grading the performance

ITV's Steve Richey takes a closer look at how each positional unit performed against Kentucky in the 40-24 victory.

Quarterback: (A-) Stefan LeFors (14 of 23 for 180 yards 1 TD, 1 INT) did exactly was Coach Bobby Petrino wanted him to do. He took what the defense gave him and made the correct checks at the line of scrimmage. His only mistake was an interception, but made the tackle with a great hit.

Eric Shelton & Lionel Gates (ITV)
Running Back: (A+) Eric Shelton proved he is for real. He ran for 151 yards 25 carries and 2 touchdowns. Shelton averaged 6 yards per carry and proved difficult to tackle the entire game. Lionel Gates rushed for 75 yards on 13 carries and 1 TD, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Both held onto the ball with the wet conditions. Also, fullback D.J. Kamer, who had a touchdown reception, did a great job sealing their block to help open some holes.

Wide Receiver: (B) This group did a great job of getting open on some big plays to keep drives alive. There were a few drops, but overall a solid night for the wide receivers. Broderick Clark made one big catch after another, but none seemingly as big as the opening drive 31-yard reception on a 3rd and long possession.

Tight End: (B+) Ronnie Ghent and Richard Owens did a great job blocking and helping protect the quarterback in some passing situations. They were not involved in the passing game as much as I would have thought, but each had a critical reception late in the contest.

Offensive Line: (A) Following a disappointing 2002 season the offensive line was questioned all spring and summer, but they quickly answered their critics loud and clear in the season opener. Travis Leffew, Renardo Foster, Dan Koons, Jerry Spencer and Jason Spitz, as well as the reserves worked all summer and have developed into a solid offensive line that can effectively pass and run block.

Defensive Line: (A-) With so much talk about Kentucky's experienced offensive line and how losing DeWayne White and Devon Thomas was going to hurt Louisville, the Cardinals defensive line stepped up and played great. Marcus Jones has great speed off the end and Tyron Saterfield's pressure up the middle kept UK quarterback Jared Lorenzen running most of the night. Scott Lopez, Bobby Leffew and Montavious Stanley also made it difficult on UK's offense.

Linebackers: (A) The name Robert McCune was heard all night. He made great tackles and also was solid in pass coverage. Rod Day and Brandon Johnson also had great games and all three blitzed at different times. The speed at linebacker is going to be a problem for most teams that Louisville will play.

Josh Minkins (ITV)
Defensive Backs: (A) This may have been the area of most concern among Cardinal fans going into this game. With two interceptions, key pass breakups and run support I have to give this group a high grade. A play that will not be remembered by most but was a key play was when Lorenzen found Wildcat receiver Derek Abney down the sideline and senior cornerback Josh Minkins was able to knock the ball out of Abney's hands as the ball arrived.

Kicking: (B) Wade Tydlacka was asked to keep the ball out of Abney's hands on kickoffs and punts. The kickoffs were deep which made it difficult for UK to get anything going on special teams.

Special Teams: (A) The punting game average of 36 yards and the one big runback for Abney on the kickoff keeps this unit from getting an A+, but the blocked punt and 9 points scored make up it. For the first game of the year, this unit looked very good.

Penalties: (A-) I know many Louisville fans had concern regarding penalties due to the fact that the Cardinals were one of the most penalized teams in the country last season. With only 4 penalties for 35 yards I believe UL fans can now clearly see how Coach Petrino is striving for winning the right way. Only one personal foul was called on Louisville and Coach Petrino took immediate action to make sure that person understood that those types of mistakes will not be tolerated.

Cardinal Authority Top Stories