Cards try to end road woes at Oregon State

Louisville has dropped their last nine road games, losing by an average of 14 points in six road games last season. Saturday, the Cardinals hope to end their road losing streak against Oregon State in Corvallis.

How is Oregon State, a team that surrendered 30 points and 278 rushing yards in their lone game this season, a three touchdown favorite this Saturday?

Well, it's probably because they're playing a team, Louisville, that hasn't won on the road in their last nine attempts and is just 3-13 away from home the past three seasons.

The Cardinals definitely have their work cut out against Oregon State this Saturday in Corvallis. Louisville enters the contest as a sizable underdog in their first road game of the season.

UofL didn't fare well on the road last season, going 0-6 away from PJCS with Steve Kragthorpe on the sideline. Louisville was out-scored 31.8 to 17.8 in six roads games last year, allowing 420 yards of total offense. The Cardinals also struggled offensively, out-scored 59-7 in the first quarter and 54-16 in the third quarter.

Now, Louisville hopes to end their road woes under first-year coach Charlie Strong.

"We have to understand it's us against them," Strong said. "We're [going] into a hostile environment. How are we going to respond to the crowd?

"We're going to have to play well for 60 minutes," Strong said. "If you play well you always feel like you have a chance. All sides of the ball and each position has to play well. We've got to be together and play as a compete football team."


Strong's defense faces a stiff test against Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers, and brother James.
Louisville's first job Saturday will be to contain Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers, one of the nation's best running backs. Then the Cardinals will have to find a way to slow Oregon State's talented wide receivers, led by Rodgers brother, James.

"We're going to have to play well on defense," Strong said. "Any time you go on the road you have to pack your defense. It's critical that you take your defense with you because when you're on the road the crowd is a factor. The only way you can take the crowd out of the game is the defense has to play well."

Louisville's defense has shown signs of improvement through two games this season. The Cardinals are allowing just 18 points per game and Strong's defense has allowed just nine points in the last six quarters against Kentucky and EKU. Strong's defense also figured out how to get to the quarterback in their last game, recording nine sacks – 4.5 by Rodney Gnat – against Eastern Kentucky, and forced a pair of turnovers.

While EKU's offense didn't pose much of threat through the air, Oregon State's receivers are capable of making big plays down field. Strong's secondary is a little banged up – cornerback Johnny Patrick was shaken up against EKU and starting safety Terence Simien is out with a knee injury – and the Louisville coach is concerned about how his defensive backfield will stack up against the Beavers.

"They have a lot of speed at wide receiver. We're going to have to be able to run with them and cover them," Strong said. "We play a lot of man and zone blitz a lot. They're going to have the opportunity to cover them. We have to go cover them. You pray they don't run by you."

The operative word for the Louisville defense this week against the Rodgers' brothers is containment.

"I always tell guys – you may be playing against a fast receiver or a fast running back but if you can contain him he won't beat you," Strong said. "But if you let him get into the open field, miss a tackle or get the ball thrown over your head that's when you have issues. If we can contain [them] it won't be an issue."

Strong said it will take a total team effort to spring an upset on the road against Oregon State. While Louisville's defense has shown signs of life in the first two games, the Cardinals offense has struggled to maintain drives and light up the scoreboard.

With Adam Froman under center, Louisville is averaging just 19.5 points per game. While the running game, powered by Victor Anderson and Bilal Powell, has been solid, the passing game hasn't cranked out many big plays.

Against EKU, Louisville's offense scored 23 points in the second quarter, but was held scoreless the other three quarters. Strong has counted nine dropped passes by his wide receivers in the first two games and lamented that Froman missed a couple open pass catchers against EKU.

"We weren't able to consistently maintain drives," Strong said. "We were moving the football then there would be a breakdown somewhere. That's what you can't have. We have to be able to stay in rhythm and maintain drives. Guys have to step up and make plays."

Still, Strong has been pleased with Froman's performance overall. "I've been pleased with the way he's managed the offense," Strong said.

Strong pointed to a few little things that could help get the offense going.

"The first third down [vs. Eastern] we ran the ball with Bilal and he was half a yard short," Strong said. "If we just make a block on the perimeter he gets a first down."

If Louisville hopes to earn their first road win since 2008, they'll have to do all the little things it takes to beat a quality opponent like Oregon State.

L'VILLE vs. OSU AT A GLANCE


Date: September 18, 2010
Kickoff: 5:35 p.m. EST
Site: Corvalis, Ore.
Television: WBKI (locally); FoxSports Northwest Tom Glasgow (pxp); Steve Preece (analyst); Rashad Floyd (sidelines)
Radio: WHAS 840 AM Paul Rogers (pxp); Stefan LeFors (analyst); Doug Ormay (sideline)
Sirius Radio: Channel 127; XM: Channel 195

INJURY REPORT

Out Kamal Hogan, RB Concussion; Chris Johnson, DL Ankle; Kamran Joyer, OG Foot; Troy Pascley, WR Knee.

Questionable Brandon Heath, LB Finger; Mark Wetterer, OG Knee.

Probable Cameron Graham, TE Neck; Tim High, DT Head; Senorise Perry, WR Knee; Jeremy Wright, RB Knee.

Inside The Ville Game Watch at BBC

The Bluegrass Brewing Company will serve as the official InsideTheVille.com Game-Watch Headquarters.

Join us at the St. Matthews or Theatre Square locations for the first game-watch party this Saturday as Louisville plays at Oregon State. Kickoff is at 5:30.

The BBC will offer Happy Hour prices on BEER, WINGS and PRETZELS for Louisville fans throughout the game. InsideTheVille.com also will giveaway free t-shirts and the latest issue of our magazine (if available) to those in attendance.

Please call for reservations.
St. Matthews BBC 899-7070
Theatre Square BBC 568-2224


Cardinal Authority Top Stories