Back That Thing Up! Did Malik Cunningham spark a QB debate for Louisville?


In one of the most bizarre games in recent memory, the city of Louisville brought the rain while the Cardinals brought the pain in the second half of a 31-7 blowout against Indiana State. The Card’s home opener was delayed three times in the first quarter due to inclement weather.

The game was first delayed from 7:18 p.m. to 8:08 p.m. due to lightning strikes in the area. Then, lightning struck again at 8:12 p.m., putting the game back in delay. The players took to the field again at 9:22 p.m. After the last delay, the game resumed at 10:05 p.m. after a 33-minute stoppage. The game ended at 12:40 a.m. Sunday.

As you can imagine, the delays ruined game flow, as both teams struggled to get offense going in the first half. But, few foresaw what unfolded in the second half. Quarterback Puma Pass has been groomed over the past few years as the man to take over for Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson. After struggling against Alabama, and in the first half with Pass behind center Saturday night, Coach Bobby Petrino elected to play backup Malik Cunningham for the majority of the third and fourth quarters.

There are a couple of high profile QB battles, most notably at Alabama and Clemson. But after Saturday’s game, do the Louisville Cardinals belong on that list? Pass’s numbers were pedestrian. Just like against Alabama, he seemed to do a decent job getting the offense to move for a few plays, then they stalled out and punted. The only touchdown the Cards could muster in the first half was a punt return for a score by Rodjay Burns.

But where Pass left off, Cunningham picked right up and sparked the Cardinals’ offense. He led the Cards to four, straight-scoring drives, showing flashes of what he could be as a starter. Much of Cunningham’s game is similar to what we saw with Jackson at quarterback. Cunningham is an electrifying runner and is right on target with his arm.

“He added another dimension out there,” ISU coach Curt Mallory said. “He was very elusive and hard to tackle. I thought we had him bottled him up a couple of times. He’s a dynamic player and he did a tremendous job out there.”

“It wasn’t a very good night for us except for one thing, we got the win,” Petrino said.

This game was supposed to set the stage for the Cardinals, but it certainly left more questions than answers. For the rest of this week, people will wonder who will be their starting QB? As the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers come into Cardinal Stadium, Pass should still get the start. The weather and delays threw everything off but the bottom line for Louisville is, all their work in the offseason has been for Pass to be the starter. Even so, this game revealed UofL has a QB who can take over if need be.

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