University of Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson was going to make sure the Cardinals ran the ball against Kentucky on Saturday.
It took a few adjustments in the second half, more tinkering at halftime and a stubborn attitude to stick to the game plan, but it finally worked.
Louisville ran for 242 yards – including 100 and two touchdowns from Senorise Perry – as the Cardinals downed Kentucky 27-13 and won for a third consecutive year against the rival Wildcats.
"We came into this game wanting to run the football," Watson said. "We felt like it was really important for our season, from this game on to establish a physical attitude. We were going to run the ball today."
And on a day when Teddy Bridgewater was not as sharp as Watson is accustomed to seeing him, the Cardinals needed the run game.
After gaining just 78 yards last week against Eastern Kentucky, the U of L rushing attack didn't look much better to start the UK game. The Cardinals sputtered and had just 31 yards rushing on eight carries in the first quarter.
But on the second possession of the second quarter, U of L junior Dominique Brown got things going for the Cardinals. Watson called a run play eight consecutive plays, including five in a row for 28 yards by Brown.
The 11-play, 52 yards drive ended with a Bridgewater pass to DeVante Parker, but 32 of the 52 yards came on the ground.
Watson said Brown "put his foot in the ground" and took advantage of some of the vertical lanes that were there for the backs.
"He ran with some thump," Watson said. "Dom got us going and then Senorise followed behind him and then Michael did some stuff today also. All three of them did a really nice job today."
Brown said the UK defense was a "surprise" to the Cardinals, who had only seen the Wildcats play with three down linemen so far this season.
"We made adjustments and our offensive line came off the ball," Brown said. "Our lead block and the tight ends were doing a great job."
Perry scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter and added a 36-yard TD run early in the fourth period for the Cardinals.
"It was real simple," Watson said. "They were loading the box and playing a five-man front on us. We knew exactly where to go. We started to get going in the second quarter. We got dialed into it and started to get a little rhythm.
"The second half adjustments were just what we did in the locker room."
Watson said the adjustments the Cardinals made were both to the run and pass game and noted UK's game plan was "really good" and forced the adjustments.
"The kids up front were dialed in once we settled down," Watson said. "We just had to get it dialed in what we needed to do to attack that structure."
U of L running backs coach Kenny Carter said Watson and line coach Dave Borberly made a "great adjustment," at halftime.
"The line did their job and the backs did their job," Carter said. "We all came together and worked as a unit."
Perry finished the game with 100 yards on 11 carries, while Michael Dyer finished with 11 carries for 62 yards and Brown had 12 carries for 45 yards.
"We came in as a group and decided we wanted to be the dominant group on the offense," Perry said. "We just had to finish (in the second half).
"As a core we have to get it going, we feel like sometimes we have to pick it up and really had to pull together as a core. This is the first time we have had it all together in the run game and it felt good."