Cardinal defense prepping for difficult task

The 7th-ranked University of Louisville is preparing for Saturday's annual Battle for the Governors Cup. For the Cardinals defense, that means getting ready for a fast-paced offense that utilizes two quarterbacks.

When the No. 7 University of Louisville Cardinals take the field at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington on Saturday, they will face an opponent that is rebuilding it's program with a new coach and a new philosophy.

Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford is preparing his unit for an offense that utilizes multiple quarterbacks with high-tempo play-calling.

Preparing the Cardinals defense for the Kentucky offense is a "very difficult" task.

"You have to have two different defensive schemes to get ready for," said Bedford. "One quarterback can throw it very well and the other guy can throw it pretty well, but he's an outstanding runner."

Through two games, the Wildcats have utilized Maxwell Smith, who is more of a traditional drop back quarterback, and pass or run threat Jalen Whitlow. Maxwell have proven to be accurate with the ball and his passing efficiency rating is among the top 10 in the nation. Whitlow is completing 74% of his attempts, while also rushing for 123 yards.

In addition to employing two quarterbacks, first year Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown manage a quick offense in an attempt to keep the defense from making substitutions and off balance.

"We have two different packages, one for each guy," Bedford said. "It's not just that, it's the speed of the game, they go so fast."

The Cardinals, who enter the game among the top 15 in total defense, are also preparing for things that haven't seen Kentucky do in its first two outings.

"I think we are going to see a lot more this third week. They've got some new things that I think they are putting in, so it's difficult to prepare for them. You wished you played them in the fourth game of the year. They're going to have some surprises for us."

As the game nears, Louisville sits as a 14 point favorite. U of L head coach Charlie Strong stressed the importance of this game for both programs during his weekly press conference and his defensive coordinator echoed that sentiment following practice on Wednesday.

"You're talking about our rival instate," said Bedford. "We recruit against each other. That's one day that you just don't like. It's a big game and game that both of us want to win. That means you have bragging rights for 364 days and that's important to the people of this city, this university and to our players."

Kickoff is scheduled for noon.

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