After throwing a total of only 16 passes in his first two seasons as Dave Ragone's backup, Stefan LeFors became the starter this season. He played so remarkably well that he took all except around 30 snaps in the Cards's 9-3 regular season.
One of his backups, true freshman Michael Bush, at least got plenty of playing time at running back and wide receiver. But the other, redshirt freshman Justin Rascati, spent most of the season wearing a baseball cap and holding a clipboard.
After injuring his left (throwing) shoulder in the third quarter against Miami, LeFors spent the rest of the game wincing in pain. At one point he even told Rascati to get ready in case he took another blow to the shoulder.
Nevertheless, even though it was obvious to even ESPN's mediocre announcing crew that his passes and lost their zip, LeFors never asked to come out and Coach Bobby Petrino never moved to replace him. The result was a couple of interceptions that ruined the Cards' chances for a comeback win.
You can't blame LeFors for wanting to stay in. He's a leader and a competitor, and that's how they think. But you can blame Petrino for not developing a dependable backup during the regular season. So he stuck with an injured LeFors instead of going with either Bush, who had thrown a TD pass earlier in the game, or Rascati.
Heck, at that point, what did Petrino have to worry about? That Bush or Rascati might throw interceptions?
After the season he had, LeFors has earned the starting job for next season. Would Brohm be willing to spent a season as his understudy? And if Bush still insists that he wants to play quarterback, but feels he's blocked by LeFors and Brohm, will he be willing to adjust his goals for the good of the team?
Whatever Brohm decides, it wouldn't be surprising to see Rascati transfer. He's good enough to play somewhere, yet it appears his only option at U of L is to spend next season as he did this season.
The Card defenders should have been forced to buy tickets because they mostly just stood and watched, as if they were mesmerized by Roethlisberger's magic. The pass rush was so ineffective that Roethlisberger could have stopped and tied his shoelaces before throwing. The tackling was so abysmal that you had to hope that somebody would tell the Cards that this wasn't a game of touch.
And the secondary looked lost. On every play, at least one Miami receiver was wide open. It was almost a return to what used to be known at UK as "Mummeball." You know, try to outscore the opponent instead of working hard to stop it.
If Roethlisberger is picked high in the NFL draft, as he surely will be, he should sent a check to the U of L defense for helping him look so overpowering before a national TV audience and all those pro scouts.
Their biggest win came over No. 62 Syracuse. The other victories were against No. 84 Houston, No. 87 Kentucky, No. 95 Cincinnati, No. 105 Tulane, No. 122 Temple, No. 142 East Carolina, No. 159 UTEP, and No. 167 Army.
Another thing to consider is that while it's nice that U of L went to its sixth consecutive bowl, its 1-5 record in those games hasn't done a lot for the program's image. The Cards have lost twice to Marshall, and once each to Boise State, Miami, and Colorado State.
Not to denigrate the job done by Petrino in his rookie season as a head coach, but it's obvious the Cards still have a long way to go in recruiting, schedule upgrading, and fan-arousing.
And the Big East awaits.
While the Horned Chickens -- ah, Frogs -- deserve to be criticized for not fulfilling their contractual obligations to the league, U of L fans shouldn't make too big a deal about it. There's no guarantee, after all, that the Cards could have beaten Boise State.