UC offense, defense to provide stiff challenge

U of L coordinators, Paul Petrino and Mike Cassity, spoke with Inside the Ville about the task of facing an impressive Bearcat offense and defense.

When scanning through the Conference USA season team statistics, the name Louisville quickly jumps out as the Cardinals lead in nearly offensive and defensive category. Another name near the top of almost each statistical ranking is Cincinnati.

The Bearcats (6-4) are third in the league in total offense, with an average of 428 yards per outing, and second in the conference in total defense, holding opponents to just 347 yards a game.

Defensively, the Bearcats, winners of four straight by an average margain of 25 points, are playing solid along the defensive line, especially from the the starting defensive ends, Andre Frazier and Trent Cole.

"Those two defensive ends of theirs are very good and we need to make sure that we don't let them beat us," said Louisville offensive coordinator Paul Petrino. "We're not going to be scared of them...we're going to come out and get after them."

While Cole is second in the nation in tackles for a loss and ranks second in C-USA with 7.5 sacks on the year, the entire UC defensive unit has played strong, totaling 23 sacks and an impressive 76 tackles for a loss.

Coach Paul Petrino chalks a lot of their success up to the speed of the UC defensive squad and not a presence of overall size.

"The offensive line will have a good challenge against these guys, especially the tackles," continued Paul Petrino. "They need to go out and be physical and take it to these guys. [Cincinnati] plays real hard and they are fast, but they aren't that big so we need to go out there and beat them up some."

The Cardinal defense will face arguably their toughest challenge of the season against Cincinnati. The Bearcats have a similarly equal attack as Louisville, racking up chunks of yards on the ground and through the air.

"They are a very physical team on offense," said U of L defensive coordinator Mike Cassity. "When you have a real good running back and a real good quarterback I always say that it is a double edged sword. You just can't load up and put everybody to stop the run, because the quarterback is so good. The flip side of that is that they can throw the ball exceptionally well and if you play total coverage then they will run the ball on you. It's going to be a real challenge for us."

The challenge begins behind center, with senior quarterback Gino Guidugli. The Fort Thomas native has been nearly as accurate as Stefan LeFors during UC's recent four game winning streak, completing 71% of his pass attempts. However, nearly as dangerous is the running of Bearcat back Richard Hall, who is just 112 yards shy of breaking the 1,000-yard barrier on the season.

Cassity stresses the fact that the Cardinal defense has played its best when they have played as a unit, as well as the importance of the U of L offense having a productive outing on Saturday afternoon.

"It's a team game and I always emphasize that we will win with our defense," explained the first year Cardinal coach. "Our guys support one another and when the offense does great it is great for the defense and when the defense does great it's great for the offense."

Despite the possibility of facing it's stiffest challenge, Paul Petrino points out that the team won't approach this game any differently that they have in their previous nine outings.

"Every game that we go into we go in thinking that they are going to be real tough," Petrino explained. "Every game we game plan very hard. Obviously we try to take advantage of their weaknesses and try not to let their strengths beat you. They are playing good right. They are running around the field and getting after it, but I still feel there are some things that we can get after them with."

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