Date story was published: Sunday, September 05, 1999
Last year, Couch.
This year, Redman.
What more do you need to know? Last year, Kentucky owned the Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, the Tim Couch, who ruined the grand opening of Louisville's new stadium, throwing touchdowns, cranking up the yardage, sending the home folks searching for a cooler place to suffer.
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This year, Louisville owned the Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, the Chris Redman, who ruined the grand opening of Kentucky's renovated stadium, throwing touchdowns, cranking out yardage, sending the home folks home to their own video screens.
"What a difference a year makes," said John L. Smith, the Louisville coach.
Louisville 56, Kentucky 28.
"My hats off to John L.," UK Coach Hal Mumme said. "They're obviously improved over last year, and we're not."
Hats off to Redman, the senior quarterback who enjoyed a George W. Bush style sendoff to his Heisman campaign. The Louisville native completed 30 of 40 passes for 324 yards and five touchdowns as U of L snapped a two-game losing streak to its cross-state rivals.
The numbers were eerily similar to a year ago when Couch hit on 29 of 39 passes for 498 yards and seven touchdowns in a 68-34 Kentucky win.
Only here's the thing: yesterday's Cardinal onslaught came against a Kentucky defense advertised to be bigger, stronger, faster, mainly better than it had been the previous two years of the Mumme/Mike Major era.
"I don't know what to say to that; we should be better," Major said afterward. "We've got to get them in the right spot. The other thing, we might have expected too much out of them before they had really been tested in the fire as a starter."
They got burned yesterday. Just as Couch turned an early 7-3 deficit into a 41-10 halftime advantage a year ago to spoil the opening of Louisville's new Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, Redman ruined the Commonwealth grand opening by turning an early 3-0 deficit into a 21-3 Louisville lead.
Louisville linebacker Bud Herring got it started, intercepting a Dusty Bonner pass and returning it 63 yards to the 4-yard line. Two plays later, Redman hit Zek Parker for a 3-yard touchdown with 2:23 left in the first quarter.
Next possession, the Cards marched 61 yards in 13 plays, with Redman finding tight end Ibn Green for a 5-yard score, with 11:27 left in the second quarter.
Then after a failed Kentucky fake field-goal attempt, the Cards went 85 yards in all of four plays. Frank Moreau went off tackle 36 yards on the first play. On the fourth play, the Card running back took a Redman pass and went 33 yards for the touchdown, making it 21-3 with 8:10 left in the second quarter.
"The key was protecting Chris," Smith said. "We protected him much better than I expected."
Louisville, meanwhile, sacked Bonner eight times for 52 yards in losses, sending Kentucky's rushing stat to its lowest total (minus-10 yards) in the '90s, eclipsing the minus-7 yards against Rutgers in 1990, Bill Curry's second game as UK coach.
Still, in his first start, Bonner hung in well enough to complete 34 of 62 passes for 446 yards and three scores, with two interceptions - the second of which Antonio Roundtree returned 56 yards for a touchdown and a 42-13 lead.
"I thought overall, Dusty played pretty well," Mumme said. "He made some mistakes, but he's a winner. We're going to win a lot of games with Dusty Bonner."
Just not this one. At halftime, Redman was 19 of 24 for 202 yards. By the end of the third quarter, he had completed 27 of 38 passes for 302 yards.
Meanwhile, Moreau ended up with 181 yards on 20 carries, averaging 9 yards per crack. The Louisville offense, the best in the nation in total offense a year ago, averaged an even 7 yards per play, 518 yards on 74 snaps.
The Cats did suffer a couple of key injuries on the defensive side of the ball in the first half. Starting strong safety David Johnson suffered a fractured eye socket the second play of the game, when helping force a Moreau fumble. Defensive end Anwar Stewart, who had recorded a pair of sacks, left late in the first half with an ankle sprain and did not return.
And the first half, the Card staff did a good job mixing their formations, keeping the Cats in the dark concerning whether they were or were not going to send in Green, the prolific tight end.
"But we finally got corrected at halftime and picked it up pretty good, " Major said. "Then all of a sudden we kind of dropped out of it again."
Some things were never corrected.
"We did not play very good rush defense," Major said. "They ran the ball on us when we should have been there to make some plays."
That just opened things up even more for Redman and his receivers.
"When you play people like that, they have a chance to break out at any time and really get to rolling and score some points on you," Major said. "But we'll be all right. I'm not worried about this bunch. They'll come back and rally.
"Like Coach Mumme told the kids afterward, Louisville suffered the same thing last year and they came back and went to a bowl game. All we've got to do is correct some things and get to playing on all cylinders, and we'll be all right."
"I know," Mumme said, "we're not going to play another quarterback this year as good as Chris Redman."