Cards not sure what to expect from UK offense

No. 12 Louisville is hard at work preparing for their season-opener against Kentucky September 4. The problem for Bobby Petrino and staff is that they aren't exactly sure what to prepare for.

With a new quarterback [Andre Woodson] and a first-year offensive coordinator [Joker Philips], the Wildcats figure to have the element of surprise on their side.

So how is Petrino getting his team ready despite the uncertainty?

"It's going to be hard," Petrino admitted Tuesday. "We know they're going to throw the ball. They did a nice job in the Tennessee game and got a lot of points on the board. So we've got to make sure we line up for all the formations they're going to use, and be able to understand where [Jacob] Tamme is on every play. And put some pressure on the quarterback. I think that's going to be the key for us."

U of L defensive coordinator Mike Cassity has known Philips for many years and believes the Wildcats offensive coordinator is fully prepared for his new charge. Though Cassity is plenty familiar with Philips off the field, that doesn't necessarily translate to a knowledge of what he plans to do with his offense on the field.

"That's what's a little puzzling right now," Cassity explained. "We're not sure what to expect. But when I watched their game against Tennessee last year, and then as you hear and read things, I'm sure they'll be solid and well prepared and I expect them to go down the field with the ball more."


U of L coaches and players
expect UK to take to the
air in the season opener.

Having taken over as offensive coordinator for Kentucky's final game against the Volunteer's, Cassity said he noticed that Philips opened up the Wildcat's offense in a narrow loss in Knoxville.

"They opened it up," Cassity said. "They ran reverses, a lot of screen passes and a lot of play-action. A lot of what they're talking about doing this season I saw in the Tennessee game."

Sophomore linebacker Matt Sanders says the Cardinals have been working extremely hard during practice to prepare themselves for anything Philips and the Wildcats throw at them.

"We have to realize that they want to utilize their wide receivers," Sanders said. "They have great athletes at wide receiver and a great quarterback in [Andre] Woodson. He can air out the ball and give us problems. So we've got to recognize formations, get lined up, make sure we communicate and just play fast."

"I'm not sure what they're going to do," Sanders added. "I saw a couple of tapes of their new coordinator last year – they do a lot of things. They run the ball effectively and do a lot of things in the passing game – a lot of screens and things like that. So we're game planning for every possible situation and leaving no stone unturned."

One theory floating around is that Philips will have Woodson rolling out frequently to open up the passing game for the Wildcats.

"They might try to get [Woodson] on the corner because they have a young line," Sanders said. "Like I said, we're leaving no stone unturned. If they try to put him on the corner on the run, we'll be ready for it. If they want to drop back and send their receivers down the field, we'll be ready for that too."

Fortunately for Louisville, the Cardinals still have a week and a half to get ready for Kentucky's ‘new-look' offense.

"We spent the first two weeks working on U of L – getting better fundamentally, running to the football, re-learning our package," Cassity said. "And the next two weeks we'll prepare for Kentucky."

"Are we there yet? No," Cassity said. "But we've still got a week and three quarters to get ready. We've seen a lot of improvement but we still have a lot of work to do."


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