Louisville prepares for speedy 'Canes defense

Miami's defense is fast – always has been. That's why preparing for the Hurricanes speed might be priority No. 1 this week in practice for Bobby Petrino and his 12th-ranked Louisville Cardinals. Can Louisville slow down the speedy 'Cane defenders in their tracks?

Miami's defense is fast – always has been. That's why preparing for the Hurricanes speed might be priority No. 1 this week in practice for Bobby Petrino and his 12th-ranked Louisville Cardinals.

The Hurricanes (1-1) got back on track last weekend with a 51-10 beating of Florida A&M after falling to rival Florida State 13-10 in the opener.

"They're a very, very good football team," Petrino said. "They're big and fast and they're well coached. We're certainly going to have our work cut out for us in our week of preparation to get prepared for the speed of their defense."

"The problem you have with that is being able to match it in practice," added Petrino. "Being able to practice against that type of speed and pass rush we will have to do something this week where our one's go against our two's just to get a faster tempo as opposed to our scout team."

Miami will bring one of the top defenses in the nation to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium this weekend. Once there, they'll find the nation's top offense waiting. The Hurricanes rank seventh nationally in total defense (200.5 yards per game) and 21st in scoring defense (11.5 ppg.). Miami also has been strong against the run, allowing just 41 yards per game on the ground (ninth nationally).

If Louisville will be challenged to duplicate Miami's speed in practice, the ‘Canes will have their work cut out trying to slow down Petrino's explosive offensive attack. Louisville ranks first nationally in total (651 ypg) and scoring offense (60 ppg), while boasting the No. 3 rushing offense (338 ypg) and No. 6 passing attack (313 ypg).

"They hit and run full speed to the ball," Petrino said. "It's going to be a good matchup."

In 2004, Louisville went down to Miami and jumped on the Hurricanes using a balanced attack offensively. The Cardinals led 24-7 at halftime, before eventually falling 41-38.

"The key in a game like this is to do what you've been coached to do and don't get overwhelmed by their size or speed," Petrino said. "That's something we were able to do a couple years ago."

Can Louisville do it again?

"It's all about preparation," Petrino said.

Fortunately for Louisville, that's what the meticulous Petrino does best.

Miami's tough defense will be
challenged by Louisville high-powered
offensive attack.

"He's a great coach X's and O's," said sophomore center Eric Wood. "He's great at breaking down film and finding weaknesses in a defense. X's and O's, he's the best in my opinion. He has great discipline over this team and we all do what we're coached to do because of how he coaches. The discipline that we have because of him allows us to go out and execute on offense."

While the ‘Canes boast one of the nation's best and fastest defenses, Coker's team has forced just two fumbles and made only one sack on the season. Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm said making good decisions – quickly – will be important for the Cardinals chances for success.

"They're very fast and very physical," Brohm said. "You've got to make decisions very quick and get the ball out very quick. If you don't they're going to be in your face and you're not going to get the ball off."

Brohm's got first hand experience against Miami. Two years ago, the 6'4 junior replaced starting quarterback Stefan LeFors late in the game against the ‘Canes in a pressure-packed situation. Then a true freshman playing in just his fifth career game, Brohm didn't wilt under the pressure, leading the Cardinals to a fourth quarter, go-ahead touchdown.

"That experience is really going to help me the second time around," Brohm said.

Though Wood didn't play against Miami two years ago, he did watch from the sidelines. He thinks having faced a similar team from the ACC - Virginia Tech - in the Toyota Gator Bowl will prove helpful against Miami.

"Last year against Virginia Tech they had a top-five defense and we executed," Wood said. "It's all about execution for our offense. We feel that nobody stops us except ourselves."

Though he's confident Louisville will score points, Wood realizes Miami will provide a stern challenge for himself and his other linemates.

"This will be our biggest test this year as an offensive line," Wood said. "They're very big and very fast up front. That will force us to come together more as an offensive line."

"Miami has a reputation for being big, fast and intimidating," added Wood. "To be in a game like this is exciting as a player to step on the field against guys like this and feel that your team's evenly matched with them."

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