"Our players are excited about it," said U of L head coach Bobby Petrino on Thursday afternoon. "We practiced hard yesterday and we'll practice hard again today - full pads and physical practices. Tomorrow we will cut back a little bit and then have Saturday off. Sunday will be a normal Tuesday for us."
The Cardinals have suffered with injuries up and down the roster since game one of the season and with the Big East Conference showdown rapidly approaching, Petrino has his team healthier than his been since the win over Kentucky in early September. Defensive linemen Adrian Grady and Jonathan Holston have made recent returns to the active roster and sophomores Rod Council and Sergio Spencer hope to do the same this week.
"I think we are as healthy as we've been all year," said Petrino. "Hopefully we'll have Rod Council back by Thursday. Sergio Spencer is going to try to practice on Sunday and if we can get him back to help us in special teams that would be a big plus, because he has always done a great job and we've missed him a little bit. (Jonathan) Holston is back full speed - he got in the game the other day and did a nice job rushing the passer and I think he'll help us more as the year goes on."
Also hoping to make a return for Thursday night's match up against the undefeated Mountaineers is senior defensive end Zach Anderson. Anderson, who suffered a knee sprain during the Cardinals win over Cincinnati on October 14, started running on Tuesday.
"Zach Anderson has a chance," said Petrino. "If it was anybody else you'd probably say that he'd have to take another week (off), but he's pushing it as hard as he can. The last two nights he's been out running straight ahead. I think it'll be something where he'll have to get into Monday before we really know whether he'll be ready to go or not. Certainly the doctors and trainers will make that decision, but he's been up here as much as he can going through all the rehab and really working on strengthening his quad. I think everything has settled down, the swelling has gone and the flexibility and movement is there, so it's just a matter if the quad is strong enough to add the stability that it needs with a brace."
"Coach Cassity has been back working 3 to 4 hours (a day)," said Petrino. "We have to kick him out of here and send him home. The biggest thing is that he doesn't have a set-back. He wants to stay here all the time and wants to be at practice, but the best part for him to be here right now is in the preparation, film study and the game planning, so he's been in here in the mornings."