"I think what we have to do is focus on one game at a time," Petrino said. "All year long everyone has been talking - not the players and the coaches - but they've heard all year long words like 'undefeated' and 'run the table.' What we need to do is focus on beating Cincinnati, and that's it."
And that seems exactly what the Cardinals have been doing. Petrino said his team returned Sunday for some therapeutic running and stretching, then began preparations for Cincinnati yesterday on the practice field, albeit it without four starters who sat out because of injury.
"There's no need for anyone to say we can still go 9-2," Petrino added. "We need to get out on the field, practice and focus on going up to Cincinnati and doing everything we can to get a win and then move on from there."
Defensive coordinator Mike Cassity
instructs his troops Tuesday during
"I think they need to be picked up a little bit, particularly on the defensive side of the ball," admitted Petrino. "When you watch the second half on defense, it's not even the same as the first half as far as our effort and our execution. We've got to get going on that.
Petrino is also looking for a leader or two to emerge on defense.
"When you look at it you certainly miss guys like Kerry Rhodes and Robert McCune," Petrino said. "We've got to continue to work on our leadership, particularly during the game. When the coaches are on the sideline we've got to get somebody to take over out there on the field."
Against West Virginia, the U of L defense lacked the toughness to stop the run late in the game. This week, Cincinnati figures to take a page out of the Mountaineer playbook and try to pound the Cardinals on the ground with three physical running backs, who rushed for 251 yards in a 28-17 win over UConn last Saturday.
"They looked good and ran the ball well," Petrino said. "They have three good running backs. Two of them we played against last year.
"They're going to try to run the ball at us," Petrino predicted. "They like their fullback and they like their big running backs. They're a physical team, so we're going to have to try to shut down the run and force them to throw the ball."