Sorry I haven't posted this before whatever AM on Sunday. I haven't seen my dad in 18 months, his wife in seven years and my one surviving grandmother is 95. All were in Lexington this weekend. So, after I wrote, I figured this could wait. But I could hear the clock running.
Of course, everybody wants to talk about the running clock. That and the way FIU's offensive play-calling looked as if the Panthers were trying to run out th clock from the first quarter. And later we'll get to FIU's flight home, which, thankfully, landed safely.
I opened the postgame media session with FIU coach Ron Turner asking "Did you request a running clock in the third quarter?"
"No," he replied.
Why was there a running clock? "I have no idea. We were just playing ball. I didn't request anything, no."
So, the refs never said anything to you guys about (having) a runnnig clock? "No."
A late-coming writer got the fuller response you see in my Herald game story. Turner said he recalled that at San Jose State he did request a running clock when they were destroying a team.
Meanwhile, Louisville coach Charlie Strong said, "What happened was both coaches talked and let's just get out of here. It's just mutually agreed upon."
Two hours after the game, Conference USA coordinator of officials Gerald Austin issued his statement that's in The Herald story. Austin's statement immediately trips over a trap cord when he says Turner commented to officials about the amount of injuries he had going into the second half and FIU's limited road roster. About 90 minutes earlier, I asked Turner at the end of the session about how the team came out as far as injuries.
"I think decent. Lars hurt his wrist late. Hopefully, it's just a sprain," Turner said. "Other than that, I think we came out OK."
Hmmm...take all those comments together and what verdict do you reach?
If Turner did request a running clock...I'm torn. There's something to be said for playing out a game, no matter how it's going. That's a good life lesson, although people often take it too far and wind up obstinant not persistent. On the other hand, all that can really happen to you late in a game like this is getting hurt. It's of limited use as game experience.
Now, to the early game.
First FIU play: incomplete pass. Second play: I-formation line plunge for 3. Third and 7: badly camouflaged draw play, loss of 4. Punt.
Get the ball back. First play, poor freshman Silas Spearman III overrun for a loss of 1. Second play: Four Louisville players overrun Spearman for no gain. Two false start penalties (maybe it's something about E.J. Hilliard because the second team seemed to have the most Early Departures in the spring and training camp) and it's third and 21. Caldwell on a draw play for 5. Punt.
FIU averages a picayune 65 yards per game rushing. And you think you're going to line up, knock heads with their front seven and establish something other than your own obstinance? Child, please. That's not showing faith in your quarterback or the playmakers he directs. Give Hilliard a chance.
"I wouldn't say I was surprised," Hilliard said. "I know Coach is going to do everything in his power to do what's best for us. I think he's doing the right thing by trying to give us confidence that we can run the ball. I think his approach to the game was a good approach. You have to be able to estalbish that you can run the football in order for people to respect your ability to pass."
Hilliard's being a good soldier. Letting him cut loose early and fling the ball all over the place wouldn't have changed the outcome. But it would've kept things interesting longer and been more fun than watching Spearman, Randolph and Collins butt their heads against their own blockers for four quarters. That looked embarrassing by the second quarter.
On the execution, Louisville's too athletic and immersed in their offensive and defensive schemes for FIU.
The Panthers flew back home on Allegiant Air Saturday. Allegiant Air grounded 18 planes Saturday that either held no evacuation slide or hadn't been tested. They fly old McDonnell-Douglas MD80s from the 1980s and 1970s. This is what the team, support staff and booster contingent flies on each road game.