Result of injury to longtime booter
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Ryan Chalifoux didn’t witness exactly what happened in real time.
He only saw Blanton Creque, Louisville’s redshirt senior kicker, down on the Cardinal Stadium turf following a return from Virginia’s Joe Reed on Oct. 26.
“I didn’t think it was what it was,” Chalifoux said. “I thought he just kind of got hit. So I was like, ‘Hey, I’ll start getting loose anyway.’”
What actually befell Creque means Chalifoux will need to stay loose the rest of Louisville’s season.
The most accurate kicker in Cardinals history by percentage tore his left ACL on that return, meaning Chalifoux, a 2017 Champaign Central graduate, is being thrust into a bigger role.
Chalifoux has been Creque’s backup since joining the Cardinals as a preferred walk-on in the summer of 2017.
Little has been required of the redshirt sophomore from an on-field perspective until Creque’s injury.
It’ll be gaining quite a few more in the coming weeks, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday when Louisville (5-3, 3-2 ACC) plays at Miami (5-4, 3-3).
“Real big bag of mixed emotions,” Chalifoux said. “I’ve been wanting to get in for years now, but it’s not how I ever saw myself getting in, and not how I ever wanted to.”
Cardinals coach Scott Satterfield told reporters earlier this week Chalifoux will handle field goals and PATs, while freshman James Turner addresses kickoffs.
Chalifoux drilled an extra point late in Louisville’s 28-21 victory over Virginia and also booted a kickoff two weeks ago.
“It was a rush,” Chalifoux said. “Everything was going real fast. I had great support, though, from all the players on the team — staff as well — having my back.”
It’s not as if kicking a football is foreign to Chalifoux. He’s seen a college field in proverbial mop-up time.
And he kicked at Central while putting together a soccer career that could have continued in college if Chalifoux wanted it to.
But there is a bit of an adjustment to be made in the setup for Chalifoux’s field goal and PAT attempts.
“Mason King, who holds ... he’s been holding for a lefty for years,” Chalifoux said. “But he did an even better job of flipping everything around (against Virginia).”
Louisville’s open week permitted Chalifoux and his cohorts more time to lock down their process as the Cardinals attempt to clinch a bowl berth with four games left in the regular season.
“The preparation is a bit different,” Chalifoux said. “I guess there’s more added pressure to it. But that’s sports. That’s the fun of sports.”
Another tweak to Chalifoux’s schedule came in the form of increased exposure.
Creque is a tenured, well-known face in the Louisville program, meaning folks wanted to learn a little more about his replacement.
That’s included stories from the local Louisville Courier Journal and Sports Illustrated.
“I’ve never had an article written about me down here, so that’s pretty cool,” Chalifoux said. “I’ve got a lot of people tweeting at me from the fan base down here.”