CARDS STILL HAVE PLENTY TO PLAY FOR
Despite the loss to Syracuse, the University of Louisville football team spent the open week correcting mistakes, trying to get healthy and realizing they still have a lot to play for in the final two games of the season.
Louisville (9-1, 4-1) can still win the Big East title with wins against Connecticut (4-6, 1-4) and Rutgers (9-1, 5-0), which would gain them a bid into a BCS Bowl, which would likely be the Orange Bowl.
"You always want to have control of your own destiny," U of L defensive line coach Clint Hurtt said. "When you have that, you don't want to ever relinquish it or let it go. It's such a fragile thing in college football.
"Twelve games doesn't seem like much, but it's a journey and you have to stay focused each week because you are going to get somebody's best. Fortunately for us, we are still control of our own destiny, but in order to not lose that, you have to get yourself refocused quickly."
Strong said early last week that the open week came at the right time. The Cardinals had a bunch of players trying to get over injuries.
"For our players, they just need to rest mentally and physically," Strong said. "This has been a special season. Our players have made an unbelievable run. The bigger goal is still to be met. The important thing is for us not to let one setback turn to frustration, excuse making, lack of responsibility and poor individual habits.
"Always look at what we have left. Never look back at what we have lost. A losing team looks for excuses. A championship team looks for solutions. Some losses are only deposits for a later victory. "
Strong gave the team Friday and Saturday off and the Cardinals are expected back at work on Sunday, preparing for UConn.
CARDS MOVE UP IN AP POLL
U of L moved up one spot in this week's Associated Press poll, going from No. 19 to No. 18 in the writers' poll.
The Cardinals stayed at No. 18 in the USA Today/Coaches poll.
The BCS Standings will be released on Sunday evening.
DEFENSE CAN'T GET OFF THE FIELD
A lot has been said about the University of Louisville's poor defensive effort against Syracuse, allowing 524 yards in a 45-26 loss.
U of L coach Charlie Strong said he wasn't happy with many parts of the defensive performance, but noted third-down defense was perhaps the worst part of the effort by the Cardinals.
Syracuse was 14 of 19 on third-down and Alex Lemon had five of his nine catches on third down in the game.
"The thing with the quarterback is just beating one-on-one in the pass rush," Strong said. "If you look at (the game), you hit the quarterback. One time we come through scot free on a blitz. He (Ryan Nassib) was able to get the ball off and we sat down on coverage. We got beat on a corner route.
"Overall pressure, again, you hit the guy on third down, they missed a tackle. He scorched and goes and gets a first down. Third down was an issue. You won first and second down and you get them into third down. They had some unbelievable number on third down. I don't know how high it was, but we just didn't get off the field on third down."
HURTT SAYS DEFENSE REFOCUSED AFTER LOSS
Defensive line coach Clint Hurtt said the defense spent the week trying to refocus and correct mistakes that happened in the Syracuse game.
The Cardinals allowed 524 yards and Strong said there were "a lot of mistakes," but Hurtt noted they have to get those corrected.
"There should be a lot of frustration and some anger, but also a regathering of focus on what happened to make those things transpire (at Syracuse)," Hurtt said. "What didn't we do? This is a chance to reflect and build off of that, so that's a lot of what is going on. You have to make sure that you don't spend a lot of time beating yourself up. You have to make sure that you get your confidence back, because you can't let a game beat you twice."
Hurtt's group on the defensive line was without several key players, including Lorenzo Mauldin and DeAngelo Brown, who were out with injuries. B.J. Dubose has missed two straight games because of a suspension.
"We don't make excuses, because things are what they are," Hurtt said. "You have to learn to deal with the cards that you are dealt. Hopefully during this bye week we'll get a little healthier and get some of the guys back.
"When it comes down to it, we just have to play better. Thing about it, leading up to that game, we were constantly correcting the same issues and it became a matter of when they would learn the lesson and hopefully that lesson was learned."
TICKETS FOR UCONN LEFT
The school announced on Thursday that approximately 1,200 tickets remained for the noon kickoff against UConn on Saturday.
The tickets are located in sections 1-5 of the UPS Flight Deck and can be purchased individually for $12. The ticket office is also offering a special promotion where fans can buy four tickets, four hot dogs and four drinks for $50.00. Those tickets have to be purchased in-person at any of the U of L ticket office locations.