Michael McCammon

5 storylines for the Louisville football team heading into Saturday's Citrus Bowl against LSU

ORLANDO, Fla. - A look at 5 storylines for the Louisville football team heading into Saturday's Citrus Bowl against LSU. The game will kickoff on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Here's a look at 5 storylines for the Louisville football team heading into Saturday's Citrus Bowl against LSU.

The game kicks off tomorrow at 11 a.m.

1. Injuries on defense: The biggest issue heading into the game for the Louisville football team is injuries - on defense.

The Cardinals will be without leading sack man James Hearns and his backup Henry Famurewa, who were injured in an off-campus shooting on Dec. 10. Both players are expected to return next season but will miss this game.

Josh Harvey-Clemons has been battling a hamstring issue and said on Wednesday he "wasn't 100 percent," while Zykiesis Cannon and Trumaine Washington were injured in the game against Kentucky.

Cornerback Shaq Wiggins has played sparingly since getting hurt in the Florida State game and won't play.

"It's just one of those next-man-up kind of attitudes you've got to have as a team because things happen," U of L defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "We have really good leadership  seniors that we're going to make sure that guys are ready and they're prepared."

2. Motivation for the game? There's been a lot of questions about motivation for the game after losing two straight games to end the season. But the players and coaches have said there's nothing to worry about.

"It's a lot of motivation," linebacker Keith Kelsey said. "This is the last game I get to play with my teammates, and I want to have a good memory as well. A lot of us are from here as well, you know, families, friends, everybody in the stands. I mean, you don't want to go out like that, you know, with the university on your back as well. We've got a lot to play for. You've got to play for the guy next to you."

Petrino has taken steps this week to make sure his team has stayed focused.

The team has been allowed to do some of the 'fun stuff' in Orlando with the curfew getting earlier each night. On Friday, the team switched hotels to a more secluded place to allow them to focus just on the game.

"I really like how we have prepared," Petrino said.

3. Big plays on offense? Louisville needs a fast start and some big plays on offense.

The Cardinals offense averaged 45.3 points - tops in the nation - and ranked second in total offense at 558.8. U of L was first in the nation in plays of 20-plus yards with 97 on the season.

On the flip side, LSU's defense is stingy.

The defense coached by Dave Aranda gave up the second fewest touchdowns of any team on the country this season. But the LSU defense will be without All-American linebacker Kendell Beckwith, who has a knee injury.

4. Radcliff and the running game: It's no secret the best offensive games this season for Louisville came when running back Brandon Radcliff had some of his best outings - Florida State, N.C. State and Boston College.

In his final game, Radcliff and Jeremy Smith will have to set the tone for U of L's offense. They can loosen things up for Lamar Jackson to do his thing and it could be the difference in the game.

U of L has coughed it up 31 times - minus-7 turnover margin - but on the flip side LSU is just 90th nationally in turnovers gained at 16.

5. Defend the pass: While they are banged up, the U of L secondary can give the Cardinals a huge boost.

LSU's passing offense ranks No. 101 in the nation at 187.6 yards a game and there's no player on the roster with 500 receiving yards on the season. The Tigers have opened up the offense a bit since Ed Orgeron took over.

But they will still run the ball first. The Cards need to not give up big plays passing.

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