- senior receiver J.R. Russell"> - senior receiver J.R. Russell">

J.R. Russell ready for senior campaign

<B>"I think we have too many weapons for them to just to focus on me though. If they do, we have enough weapons and everybody can make plays."</b> - senior receiver J.R. Russell

Prior to the arrival of Bobby Petrino as head coach and Paul Petrino as offensive coordinator and receivers coach, Louisville's J.R. Russell wasn't thought of as a potential go-to receiver. However, just as he did with previous U of L receivers during his first stint with the Cardinals coaching staff, Paul Petrino molded Russell into a sure-handed, big play receiver that is now poised to play on Sunday's in the NFL.

As a junior, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound receiver hauled in 75 catches for a school record 1,213 yards and 8 touchdowns.

He credits his relationship with senior quarterback Stefan LeFors for making sure an improvement last fall.

"The quarterback is going to throw to who is comfortable with, so in practice you have to show that you are going to make plays for him," said Russell. "Me and Stefan came in together as freshman and he feels real comfortable with me when he gets in trouble."

With the additions of Montrell Jones and Harry Douglas, the Cardinals receiving corp, which also includes Joshua Tinch, Broderick Clark and Tiger Jones has quickly become of the more talented groups in the country. Because of the many receiving options that LeFors now has, Russell believes that opponents won't be able to double-team him much during his senior season.

"I expect it because of the season I had last year," Russell said of possible double-teams. "I think we have too many weapons for them to just to focus on me though. If they do, we have enough weapons and everybody can make plays."

Additionally, most of last year's offensive unit, which finished 5th in the nation in total offense returns and most expect the U of L offense to improve on last year's stellar play.

"Only time will tell [if we are better]," Russell said of the offensive unit. "We got pretty much everybody back except for two linemen, so we have a little bit more experience and know the offense a little better too."

In Louisville's 40-24 victory at Kentucky last year Russell had 3 receptions for 45 yards and he doesn't anticipate much change to the Wildcat defense come Sunday. "[I expect them] to do what they did last year, but do it a little bit better and execute. You never know, so you have to be ready for anything."

However, after going against the Cardinal defense for weeks in practice he does believe change is in store for the U of L defense.

"They look like they have more confidence with what they are doing," explained Russell. "They are playing fast instead thinking. You could tell that they were doing a lot of thinking last year, but now they are just playing hard, playing fast and they look good."

While the Cardinals look to improve on both sides of the ball, Russell believes focus on practice and conditioning will be the key to the game against Kentucky on Sunday.

"Everybody is going to be pumped for at least the first half, so whoever executes and who practiced harder and is in the best shape," said Russell.

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