Louisville, which is currently 0-1 in Big East play, is looking to notch it's first conference win of the year this weekend at No. 25 West Virginia.
"Basically to get back in the race," U of L head coach Bobby Petrino said of the importance of the game in Morgantown on Saturday afternoon. "That's what really what you are talking about. We have our backs against the wall because we went out and lost our first conference game. Hopefully it will be like that each week, but you have to keep winning for it to mean something. It's a big game for us and it should be one that our players have no trouble getting up for. It's supposed to be a good enviroment for a football game and it's something that we are looking forward to."
Louisville, which struggled when faced with a loud and active crowd at South Florida, will be tested even more so when they visit 60,000 seat Mountaineer Stadium.
"It'll be fun," said Petrino. "Any time you go into a hostile enviroment you have to try to come together as a team and understand it's us against them."
West Virginia redshirt quarterback Pat White is dangerous with both his arm and legs. Through six games, White has totaled 235 rushing yards, while also tossing for an additional 323 yards.
"We were actually recruiting him, but he didn't want to play another position," Petrino said of the Mobile, Alabama native. "He's very quick and a very good athlete."
Despite a few key injuries, Petrino's Cardinal squad continues to stay relatively healthy. Junior running back Kolby Smith left the North Carolina game with an injured knee, while junior outside linebacker Abe Brown missed the game due to an injury suffered during practice last Thursday. The most notable injury was middle linebacker Matt Sanders, who left the game against the Tarheels early after he tore two ligaments in his right knee.
"I'm not sure if we'll have Kolby or Abe Brown," Petrino said. "The training staff told me that they didn't want to count them out just yet, but they would have to make siginicant progress. I think we'll have most everyone else back except for Matt Sanders."
Senior receiver Broderick Clark, who has been sidelined with an injury since the Cardinals second game of the season, will return to practice this week.
"Broderick is going to go out and practice tomorrow," he continued. "He won't go through the whole practice, but he will work in certain segments of it and we will try to bring him along as the week goes to make sure that we know if he's ready for the game or not."
Sanders, who has fought back from multiple injuries throughout his U of L career, will be forced to do it once again should he choose to return to the field for the 2006 season.
"It's real tough on him," Petrino explained. "He was playing real well and was real excited. He's as good a team player that we have."
"We'll just have to wait and see," Petrino said of a possible comeback from the injury. "I'm certain that he'll probably want to."
Linebackers Performing Well
Despite the frequent changes to the starting lineup, this years crop of linebackers have improved with each outing. On Saturday, sophomore Malik Jackson made his first career start and recorded four tackles.
"Malik did good," Petrino said. "He played real hard and played fast. He's very physical. He needs to get off the blocks a little bit quicker, but he does a real nice job of coming up and taking the block on. He has great explosion when he hits you. He just needs to shed and get off."
Senior Brandon Johnson, who began the season in the staring lineup, also played well in a reserve role against North Carolina, finishing second on the team with six tackles, including 1.5 tackles for a loss.
"We also played Brandon Johnson at that position," continued Petrino. "We kind of rotated Brandon, Preston and Malik and all three of them played well."
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