Now, with one final non-conference tuneup against Memphis this Saturday before starting Big East play, Charlie Strong wants his team to continue to improve and build momentum for the upcoming conference race.
"It is more a matter of confidence," Strong said. "You have to win games and play well to gain confidence. That is what you like to see happen as we go along here."
Like the team as a whole, Adam Froman, Louisville's senior quarterback, has also improved each game out this season. Froman has led the Cardinals to a 2-2 start that included a confidence-building 35-28 road loss at then-No. 24 Oregon State and a 34-24 win at Arkansas State last week – Louisville's first road win since 2008.
"It is important to keep it rolling any time you get a win," Froman said. "The more wins you can get in a row, the more confidence and momentum build up. It makes things head down hill and get easier."
Froman, who hopes to lead Louisville to its first bowl game since the 2007 Orange Bowl, should have a field day Saturday against a poor Memphis defense that has given up over 400 yards total offense and 35 points per game this season.
"The importance of the season is to get to a bowl game," Froman said. "It is important to get wins over these non-conference opponents and start building our win column. For us, the season goal is to get to a bowl game. If we can get this third win here in non-conference season and be 3-2 going into the conference, it will be a big deal. For us, that's extremely important."
With first-year coach Larry Porter on the sideline, Memphis has struggled out of the gates this season. The Tigers enter the game against Louisville just 1-4, and allowed Miss. State and East Carolina to both score 49 points, while Tulsa scored 48 points.
The problem for Porter is that Memphis' problems aren't solely on defense. It's true the Tigers rank only 94th nationally in total defense and have allowed more than 48 points in three of five games this season. But Memphis' offense has been equally ineffective, ranking 110th nationally in total offense and scoring less than 16 points per game.
Memphis, who produced NFL star running back DeAngelo Williams, has also struggled to establish a running game this season, averaging just 113.8 yards on the ground per contest. That's good news for a UofL defense that surrendered 200 yards on the ground last week against Arkansas State.
"It is not so much about what Memphis does, but what we have to do defensively," Strong said. "We have a lot of things to correct and we cannot give up the big play. Arkansas State had over 200 yards rushing. We go into every game to stop the run and we cannot allow that to happen. We have to take care of ourselves and be concerned about ourselves."
Though Strong understands his team still needs improvement in several areas, he's been pleased with their effort and heart this season. Strong hopes his squad will continue to build on their two most recent outings against a Memphis outfit they're heavily favored to beat this weekend.
"They want to win and there is a resiliency on the team," said Strong. "When you look at Oregon State, and we are down 35-14, it could have been a blowout because things were not going well at all. We had not stopped them on defense at all, scoring touchdowns on five straight drives. They continue to fight. After that game, you think it would be a letdown. It was not letdown after the week off. We went into Arkansas State and scored 31 points early."
Saturday is also Homecoming for the Cardinals, which adds a little flavor to the contest. Still, Froman and his teammates aren't worried about Homecoming festivities; not with a chance to continue building momentum before Cincinnati visits next week for the Big East opener.
"It is exciting with the festivities around," Froman said. "I think it is more for the fans than anything else. For us, it is another football game. It is a chance for us to go 3-2 and get two wins in a row to keep the momentum going. For us, we look at the big picture. We are not looking at who we have coming in and what their record is. We are looking at another good opponent coming in this week. We have to go out and keep building on what we have been doing. We have been getting better every week."
Kickoff is scheduled for 2:00 at PJCS. For the second straight week, Louisville's game will be broadcast exclusively online at ESPN3.com.