U of L football notebook: UVA game

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The University of Louisville football team hits the road this weekend for an ACC contest at Virginia. Here are a few notebook items heading into Saturday's 12:30 p.m. game at Scott Stadium.

MORE DOWNFIELD PASSES COMING

University of Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino said on Monday that he wanted his offense to try and throw the ball down the field more in coming weeks.

On Thursday night, Petrino said the offense has "worked really hard" on trying to get more into a rhythm and hopefully make more big plays in the passing game.

"We will continue to work hard at it," he said. "We have improved on it each of the past three weeks. We just have to make more explosive plays down the field in our passing game. Right now, all of our chunk plays have come in the running game."

U of L has 10 offensive plays of 20-plus yards with five on the run and five by a pass, but many of the pass were short routes that turned into bigger plays.

Quarterback Will Gardner has "really improved" since the Miami game and Petrino said he expects to "call more plays down the field," in the coming weeks.

Gardner is 33 of 50 passing for 339 yards and four TDs in two games.

"We just have to make more big plays," offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said. "It will help our entire offense if we can do that."

BALL SECURITY IS THE KEY

Petrino said the offense works on it all the time but this week ball security was a big emphasis during Tuesday and Wednesday practices.

Virginia's defense has created nine turnovers in two games, including six fumbles.

"We have to take care of the football," Petrino said. "Bottom line."

Gardner fumbled twice in the opener against Miami and has the only two turnovers for the Cardinals so far this season.

DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT BY WILLIAMS

Petrino singled out a few individual players on both sides of the ball who are showing major improvement in practice, including Chucky Williams.

The redshirt freshman safety from Hialeah, Fla., has played in both games and has a total of two tackles to his credit. But Petrino said he has "really come around" and is showing major strides towards helping out the defense.

"I've seen Chucky Williams improve a lot the last few weeks," Petrino said. "That could be really big for us down the road."

The 6-foot-2, 198-pound Williams was a redshirt last season.

SCOTT STADIUM NOT TOO FULL?

The Cardinals are on the road but folks here don't expect a packed house at Scott Stadium, which has a natural grass surface and holds 61,500 fans.

The Cavaliers had the smallest crowd in 25 years last week in the win over Richmond when only 34,533 fans showed up. The crowd was just over 44,000 in the opener against UCLA.

The smallest crowd before last week was in 1989 when Louisville visited.

A FEW LEFTOVERS

***Louisville's eight-game winning streak is the second longest - only behind Florida State - in the country heading into the weekend.

***U of L hasn't been shutout in 175 games - the third longest streak in the ACC. The last time the Cardinals had a goose egg was in 2000 against Florida State.

***The Cardinals have won six in a row on the road.

***U of L has had 11 players make their first start this season; a total of 32 players have seen the field for the first time. It helps that 76 players saw action last week.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

U of L offensive coordinator Garrick McGee

"We've been in love with L.J. (Scott) since the first day we got here. If you didn't know, there's no way you think he's a freshman."


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