The University of Louisville football team started the season with eight consecutive games, including games on a Monday and Friday night.
So, there wasn’t much rest for the weary.
But that has changed this week. Once the Cardinals wrapped up a 30-18 victory over North Carolina State on Saturday, they started a bye week.
The week started by watching Florida State beat Notre Dame later Saturday night, making sure the Seminoles will be undefeated when the defending national champions make a visit to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium next Thursday.
And then there was three days off. The Cardinals got back to work on Wednesday night with the first full-team practice since the win over the Wolfpack pushed the Cardinals to 6-2 and bowl eligible.
“I speak for the team saying we need this break before Florida State.” senior linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin, who is nursing a hamstring injury, said. “We want to be 110 percent when it comes to Florida State.”
The N.C. State game on Saturday was the closest Louisville fans have come to watching a fully healthy team take the field. Fans were able to get an idea of what this offense is really capable of with the performances of DeVante Parker (132 yards) and Michael Dyer (173 yards), who both have missed most – or in Parker’s case all – of the season because of injuries.
But after eight weeks without a break, the fans also may have notice the wear and tear the long stretch put on the players. During the N.C. State game, the Cardinals had Mauldin, James Quick (foot), Keith Kelsey (ankle) and Brandon Radcliff (turf toe) among others go down with injuries.
“A lot of guys are nicked up,” junior Charles Gaines said. “So we’re going to get into the training room, and try to get back right for the next weeks game.”
Even the coaches are looking forward to the week without a game, doing some recruiting and getting many of the players back healthy.
“I think that’s one of the things I’m really proud about our football team is we played eight straight games,” Petrino said. “I’ve been real happy with their work ethic and their attitude, and now we need a little break.”
The Cardinals will play Florida State next Thursday followed by a road trip the following weekend to Boston College. There will be another bye week prior to the Nov. 22 game at Notre Dame and the season ends on Nov. 29 against Kentucky.