Petrino, players confident in Cantwell

Though the extent of Brian Brohm's knee injury won't be known until later today or early Tuesday, it is clear that backup quarterback Hunter Cantwell will factor heavily into Louisville coach Bobby Petrino's plans this week as the Cardinals prepare for Saturday's game against Connecticut.

Though the extent of Brian Brohm's knee injury won't be known until later today or early Tuesday, it is clear that backup quarterback Hunter Cantwell will factor heavily into Louisville coach Bobby Petrino's plans this week as the Cardinals prepare for Saturday's game against Connecticut.

Brohm injured his right knee late in the third quarter against Syracuse last weekend, and received treatment Sunday at the U of L football complex. He's scheduled to have an MRI Monday afternoon, and Petrino said they'll wait for the results before finalizing their game plans for the Huskies.

"His knee didn't swell as much as we thought it might, but we're still not overly optimistic," Petrino said Monday at his weekly press conference. "We want to wait to get the results from the MRI before we make any decisions."

If Brohm can't play Saturday – and it seems nearly certain that he won't – Petrino will turn to Cantwell, a 6-4, 230-pound redshirt freshman who came to U of L last year as a "recruited walk-on."

"The players have confidence in him," Petrino said.

Cantwell has seen action in six of Louisville's ten games this season, and played the entire forth quarter Saturday against Syracuse. Against the Orange, Cantwell took over for Brohm with the Cardinals ahead just 27-17, but guided the U of L offense to two fourth quarter touchdowns and a 41-17 victory.

Now, though, Cantwell will be counted on in a much larger capacity while making his first career start against a UConn defense that ranks first in the Big East in pass and total defense, and held South Florida to just 10 points last week.

"I think we have a capable backup in Hunter Cantwell," Petrino said. "He's shown that he can do it, he's just inexperienced at this point."

Cantwell has thrown just 11 passes on the year, completing eight for 157 yards and one touchdown. And despite his limited experience, Petrino believes he's capable of getting the job done.


Michael Bush could give the U of L
offense a big boost if he's able to
play this weekend against UConn.
"The first thing he has to do is handle the noise from crowd and get us in and out of the huddle," said Petrino. "We'll work on the things that he does best and make sure we get him protected. We'll put him in a position to succeed.

"He's very capable of throwing the football. He's an accurate passer, has a strong arm and a quick release. You don't get a lot of reps with the first team when you're the backup quarterback, but our practice is structured to where he throws a lot to the first team receivers. So the timing shouldn't be a problem."

With Cantwell under center, the Cardinals will have to get big results from a rushing attack that ranks third in the Big East. Petrino hopes the U of L rushing attack gets an added boost with the return of junior Michael Bush. Bush will run during practice today, and Petrino hopes to have Bush's services this weekend.

"Michael is going to go out and run today, and we should know a little more about his status tonight or tomorrow after he runs," Petrino said. "He took the weekend completely off and felt real good yesterday. I'm a little more optimistic about Michael this week."

Petrino also said he expects that defense, special teams and turnovers will play a big part against UConn without Brohm under center.

"We're going to do whatever we have to do to win the game," Petrino said. "We're going to have to run the football if (Cantwell) is the quarterback. We have to do a good job taking care of the ball, and we have to do a great job with special teams. I think field position and turnovers will be a big part of the game."

Senior defensive end Elvis Dumervil and junior running back Kolby Smith both said they had confidence with Cantwell leading the way this weekend.

"I have confidence in him and I think the rest of the team does also," Dumervil said. "He's a smart kid and he makes good decisions. We lost a key player in Brohm and we owe it to him to step it up," said Dumervil.

Smith, who carried has 20 carries for 96 yards and one touchdown against Syracuse, expects the U of L coaches to simply the offensive game plan with Cantwell under center and figures the running backs will play a larger role this week.

"I feel like we have to adjust, scale the offensive package down, and put more focus on the run game," said Kolby Smith. "This team is determined to win this game. We don't want anymore losses."


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