Defense, Cantwell will be key against K-State

Eighth-ranked Louisville will count on an under-rated defense and backup quarterback Hunter Cantwell to remain unbeaten this weekend against Kansas State on the road.

Eighth-ranked Louisville proved during a 31-7 win over Miami last weekend that they're not just an offensive machine.

Though the Cardinals nearly gained 400 yards against the Hurricanes nationally-ranked defense, it was the U of L defense that made the difference against Miami, harassing ‘Canes quarterback Kyle Wright and stuffing the run all day.

"Our defense did an outstanding job stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback," Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said during his Monday afternoon press conference. "We did a nice job sticking to the game plan and had some very good personal performances."

Safety Brandon Sharp earned Big East Defensive Player of the Week honors after making eight tackles and a sack against Miami. He sounded pleased with the way the defense has played so far this season, but would like to see his secondary eliminate the deep balls.

"Brandon Sharp, Malik Jackson, and Amobi Okoye… did a nice job," Petrino said. "We're doing a nice job stopping the run and playing as a team. We'd still like not to give up some of those deep balls. We dropped four balls that would have been interceptions against Miami. We need to continue working on that and start showing some results."

Before Brian Brohm left the game early in the third quarter with an injured thumb, the Cardinals quarterback was having a field day picking apart Miami's secondary as the ‘Canes stacked the line of scrimmage to slow down Louisville's rushing attack. U of L didn't miss a beat when backup Hunter Cantwell entered the game, as the 6'4 sophomore completed 3-4 passes for 113 yards.

"They forced us to throw the football – they had nine guys down for the run most of the day and left their corners out their one-on-one," Petrino said. "I probably should have called more passes…because they could not cover Mario Urrutia and Harry Douglas."

Brohm had surgery Sunday morning to repair damaged thumb ligaments. Now, Petrino hopes to keep his top-ranked offense flying until the 6'4 junior returns to the lineup.

"Brian is doing alright," Petrino said. "I talked to him last night and his spirit is good – as good as they can be. It's very difficult. The biggest thing is he was just starting to get into a rhythm and he was looking great. And then that happened. It's tough on him."

When Brohm might returns remains uncertain, though he figures to be back on the field when Louisville takes on No. 5 West Virginia Nov. 3 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

"It'll be up to the doctors," Petrino said. "They told me 3 to 6 weeks. He would probably try to push it closer to three weeks than six. But he's got to be able to grip the ball and throw it right. We've got to do a good job getting him enough work as soon as they allow him to so he doesn't take a step back technically."

Petrino is confident Brohm's replacement, Hunter Cantwell, will get the done. Cantwell is 1-1 as a starter and led U of L to 14 second half points against Miami last Saturday.

"The best thing is that our team is used to playing with Hunter," Petrino said. "He played against Connecticut and the bowl game last year and took all the reps with the first team during spring ball and that really helps him. I've got a tremendous amount of confidence that he can make the throws. He understands the game a lot better and he's very confident."

Petrino said wide receiver Patrick Carter and walk-on Bill Ashburn will serve as Cantwell's backup. However, Carter, who also returns punts, hasn't practiced at the quarterback position since before the season-opener against Kentucky.

"We've got to get them some extra work, more than we normally do," Petrino said.

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