Louisville plans to 'corral' FIU's Hilton

Louisville isn't looking ahead to next week's matchup against rival Kentucky. Instead, Charlie Strong's Cardinals are focused on a tough Florida International squad that visits Papa John's Cardinal Stadium for Friday night's ESPN contest.

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Louisville isn't looking ahead to next week's matchup against rival Kentucky.

Instead, Charlie Strong's Cardinals are focused on a tough Florida International squad that visits Papa John's Cardinal Stadium for Friday night's ESPN contest.

After Louisville's subpar effort in last week's season-opening, 21-9, win over Murray State, Strong knows his team must eliminate the turnovers and penalties that slowed the offense in the final three quarters against the Racers. Louisville committed ten penalties, including five false starts, and four turnovers against Murray State.

"It's going to be interesting to see how we come together this week," Strong said. "FIU is a good football team with 16 starters back and they are playing with a lot of confidence. Can we play at the level we need to play at to beat this team?"

Mario Cristobal's team routed North Texas last week 41-16 posting 401 total yards, while holding NTU to 301 yards, including only 97 yards on the ground.

"FIU is similar to us," said Strong. "It is a team that plays really hard and that is playing with a lot of confidence right now. They went and beat North Texas very handily on Thursday night."

The guy Strong is concerned about is T.Y Hilton, an explosive wide receiver/return specialist who had 283 all-purpose yards against North Texas, including seven receptions for 132 yards and a 60-yard touchdown catch from FIU quarterback Wesley Carroll. Hilton also had a 62-yard kickoff return for a score.

Louisville vs. Florida International

Date: Friday, September 9; 7:00
Where: PJCS (55,000)
Radio: WHAS (840 AM) will broadcast the game on radio, with Paul Rogers (play-by-play) and Tony Stallings (color) calling the action.
Next UofL Game: Saturday, September 17 – at Kentucky

Storyline: Louisville opened the season with a disappointing, 21-9, win last week against Murray State. The Cardinals committed 10 penalties - five false starts - and four turnovers against the Racers.

Louisville must clean up its act Friday night against a tough FIU squad that has something to prove with an ESPN audience watching.

The Panthers are potentially explosive on offense with all-purpose threat T.Y. Hilton, who had 283 total yards last week against North Texas. Miss. State transfer quarterback Wesley Carroll is solid and has plenty of weapons to get the ball.

The Cardinals again will be without starters BJ Butler and Mario Benavides. Charlie Strong welcomes back defensive linemen Greg Scruggs and Roy Philon and hopes that starting tackle Brandon Dunn and WR Josh Bellamy will play.

"They have a big-time playmaker in T.Y. Hilton," Strong said. "The thing Hilton can do is he is an all-purpose guy. You look at him and he ended up with seven catches for over 130 yards and then gets yardage returning kickoffs."

Strong said Louisville's inexperienced cornerbacks – senior Anthony Conner and freshman Andrew Johnson, passed their first test last week against Murray State's wide-open passing attack. The Cardinals secondary, though, faces a much tougher task against FIU's offense, featuring the dynamic Hilton.

"Our guys did a good job covering (vs. MSU) and when you play a passing team it builds confidence," Strong said. "It was a challenge and they stepped up to it, but this week is a much bigger challenge because we're playing against an athlete who is fast and can make plays in the open field."

Conner, who recorded an interception against Murray State, likely will draw the assignment on Hilton, though Strong plans a team-approach to slow the Panthers star receiver.

"The thing we are going to have to do is contain Hilton," Strong said. "You know he's going to get some catches so we're going to have to corral the ball and get enough guys to him. We have to make sure when we get around him we get him tackled. The yardage after the catch is going to be critical because we know they're going to throw the ball to him. We can't allow him to break a tackle and get 20 extra yards."

While Strong wants his defense to tackle better than it did against Murray State, Louisville was solid defensively against the Racers, surrendering just 291 total yards. The Cardinals allowed only 148 yards passing, while intercepting Casey Brockman, the OVC Player of the Year, three times.

"FIU's whole offense is centered around the quarterback," Strong said. "He (Carroll) does a good job. He finds the playmakers, whether it's Hilton or (wide receiver Wayne) Times. He manages their offense."

Defensively, Strong said FIU plays an attacking-style that resembles Louisville's defense.

"You will see a defense that is similar to our defense," Strong said. "They blitz a lot and put a lot of pressure on the offense. They are a team that tries to disrupt rhythm, which they do through their defense."

With a chance to atone for last week's sub-par performance, Strong hopes his team can capitalize on its opportunity to make a statement to an ESPN national audience.

"It is going to be a great challenge for us," said Strong. "The thing we are going to have to do is to play a lot better than we played in the Murray State game."

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