Stripling, Smith now major factors for U of L

George Stripling and Kolby Smith will now be counted on to replace Michael Bush and keep the Louisville offense moving on the ground. Can the Cardinals continue to make headway on the ground without Bush? Who now will get the tough yards for Louisville on third down and on the goal line?

Michael Bush is recovering nicely after undergoing successful surgery Monday morning to repair a double fracture in his right leg.

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino spent time with Bush and his family at the hospital the day of his surgery and also went back Tuesday morning to check in with his fallen star.

"He's in good spirits," Petrino said Tuesday. "He's a very positive young man. He's going to be fine. He's certainly disappointed and his parents are hurting over it. But he's going to comeback from it and be fine."

Harry Douglas, a junior wide receiver and Bush's roommate, gave a similar report.

"He's doing good and he's in good spirits," said Douglas. "He never really gets down about anything."

Petrino has good news the day following Bush's surgery about his probability for making a full recovery.

"The doctor was saying this is (an) injury that (Michael) will come back from 100 percent," Petrino said.

Though Bush figures to make a full recovery, his injury temporarily deflated both his teammates and coaches in the moments immediately following the play that cost the Heisman candidate his senior season.

"You could feel it on the sideline, it was like ‘Oh my gosh,'" Petrino said. "The air was certainly let out of our team. But we have to keep going. There's no question that we're going to react positively. They understand it's a part of the game and we've got to focus on winning games."

"The first reaction was shock," Douglas added.

So what effect will the loss of Bush's, the team's top rusher, have on the U of L offense? Not even Petrino could give an accurate assessment.

"I don't know that," Petrino said. "How do you know? We've had injuries before so we've just got to keep going. We might have a little different style running, although George Stripling does a nice job running between the tackles."

Douglas said the Louisville offense would continue to be a formidable challenge for opposing defenses, even without the 6'3, 250 pound Bush in the lineup.

"We'll have to do some things differently, but we've still got a lot of big play people on this offense," Douglas said.

With Michael Bush out for the
season, Kolby Smith gets his
chance to shine in the U of L

One thing is certain, the 6'1, 195 pound Stripling and Kolby Smith, a 5'11, 215 pound senior, will become a major part of the Cardinals post-Bush offense.

"We'll go into it saying that Kolby and George will be the guys, but I always like to have a third guy, which would either be Sergio Spencer or Anthony Allen, or even Brock Bolen," Petrino said. "I think all three of them are capable of carrying the football.

Petrino said Stripling and Smith are excited about their new challenge.

"They're both very quick and have good cutback ability," Petrino said. "They're both excited and motivated to get the ball more. They compliment each other very well."

Petrino would like to see Smith, noted for his preference to cutback against the grain, change up his running style in Bush's absence.

"George probably has more confidence in his speed than Kolby," Petrino said. "I keep telling Kolby to have more confidence in his speed and keep going toward the sideline and you'll score. But his natural instinct is to cutback. He's the biggest cutback runner I've ever been around. He's good at it, but I think he'd have more touchdowns if he didn't do it so much."

Douglas, who caught five passes against Kentucky, has confidence that Smith and Stripling will continue to provide the U of L offense with a solid attack on the ground.

"Kolby and Strip are both great running backs," Douglas said. "We're deep at a lot of positions and running back is one of them. I have no doubt that they'll perform great."

Petrino is also hoping that Bolen, a 6'0, 237 pound transfer from Illinois, and Anthony Allen, a bruising true freshman from Florida, can provide the Cardinals offense some of the things that Bush did. Against UK, Bolen carried two times for five yards and caught a short touchdown pass from Brohm, while Allen carried eight times for 48 yards and a touchdown.

"They are bigger, more physical guys that we can bang in there in short yardage, on the goal line situations and in the fourth quarter when you've got guys worn down a little bit," Petrino said.

Who will get the majority of the carries with Bush out for the season?

"It will be who's hot, who's not type of deal," Petrino said. "We try to feed the guy who's hot."

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