After suffering its first loss of the season last Friday at the hands of Central Florida, the No. 20-ranked University of Louisville football team (6-1) is itching to get back to their winning ways.
According to senior defense tackle Brandon Dunn, the Cardinals getting back on track starts with the defense.
Entering the game against UCF as the nation's top-ranked scoring defense, the Cardinals allowed the Knights to score 38 points- 25 points more than their previous season-high of 13. The unit also gave up 446 yards of total offense, 196 of which coming on the ground.
"Being a man, we take the blame (for the loss) on ourselves," Dunn told Cardinal Authority after Tuesday evening's practice.
The Cardinals scored a go-ahead touchdown on a 15-yard Dominique Brown rush with three minutes left in the game to make the score 35-31. UCF then preceded to drive 75 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
"We understand that the offense should only have to score three or seven points. That's all we need (to win a game)," Dunn said. "We preach shutouts no matter who the opponent is, or what they're ranked or what the name is."
"We play good defense and it's the foundation of this team. We didn't get that done last Friday night."
Dunn and the Cardinal defense refuse to let the loss shake their confidence. Dunn says the team takes the loss as a reminder to always stay focused.
"We're still confident. We just got lax (against UCF), and you can't get lax. When you're up 28-7, we've got to find ways to get it going and keep it up," Dunn said. "It was a wake-up call for us, and we've got to understand that it's college football and anything can happen."
"But we've got to let this one go, because we understand that South Florida is in front of us."
In addition to preparing for South Florida, Dunn is also nursing a broken right hand. Dunn sustained the injury during the first quarter of Louisville's Oct. 10 win over Rutgers. He has since played with a small cast.
"It's just been one of those things," Dunn said of the injury. "I don't complain about it. I just have to come out here and keep it wrapped-up and keep playing with it."
Even with the pain, Dunn, given his role, says missing time due to the broken hand was never an option.
"I'm a leader of the defense. I'm the middle, the heart of the defense. I just can't imagine myself not playing."
The Louisville defense will face a South Florida offense that is statistically one of the worst in country. The Bulls rank No. 115 and No. 104 in passing and rushing yards, respectively, while also averaging just 16.2 points a game.
On paper, the Cardinals look to be a heavy favorite. But after last week, Dunn and the Cardinals aren't taking anything for granted.
"We've just got to get back to playing Cardinal defense. First, just get back to the fundamentals. You have to love this game," Dunn said.
"At any moment it can get ahold of you and what happened to us on Friday can happen. When the going gets tough you have to rely on your fundamentals."
The Cardinals will kickoff against USF (2-4) on Saturday at noon in Raymond James Stadium.