Louisville Football Notebook

Sixth-ranked Louisville has a lot at stake this weekend. Besides the Cardinals season finale against Connecticut, Louisville will be rooting hard for West Virginia Saturday night against Rutgers. InsideTheVille.com has the latest on the Cards important weekend in the notebook.

Sixth-ranked Louisville heads into their season finale Saturday against UConn coming off one of their better performances of the year. The Cardinals put together an impressive 48-24 road win against Pittsburgh last week and now need just one more win over the Huskies to guarantee a share of the 2006 Big East title.

In the win over Pitt, Louisville raced to 499 yards of offense. Brian Brohm was on the mark all day, completing 21-29 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns. Wide Receivers Mario Urrutia and Harry Douglas both had big games, too. The 6-6 Urrutia caught 7 passes for 144 yards and a score, while the Douglas made four catches for 132 yards and one touchdown.

"I was very happy with the way we played," Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. "Offensively, it was the best rhythm that we had since early in the season. Brian was very comfortable and had a lot of room in the pocket and the offensive line did a nice job."

This week, the Cardinals have big interest not only in their game against Connecticut but in the West Virginia - Rutgers tilt in Morgantown. Louisville needs West Virginia to knock off #13 Rutgers for an outright Big East title and the conference's automatic BCS bowl berth.

"There's still football to be played," Petrino said. "We still have a game, Rutgers-West Virginia. None of it matters in my opinion at all unless we go out Saturday and beat Connecticut. I think that it will all play out the way it is supposed to."

While the Big East has been knocked by national critics throughout the season, the league boasts three teams ranked in the Top 15 nationally. In addition, South Florida, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are all bowl eligible.

Brian Brohm will be tested by a
stingy UConn pass defense.

"It's really been a hard go (in the conference)," Petrino said. "It's been competitive week in and week out. When we prepared for South Florida that was one of the weeks I hardly got any sleep (because) they were so fast and explosive."

In UConn, the Cardinals will face an opponent with a tough defense, a strong running game and a relentless, never-give-up style. The Huskies have the #16 rushing offense nationally and the #14 pass defense.

"They like to pack the line of scrimmage on defense," Petrino said. "Sometimes they'll have eight guys in the box. Sometimes, they'll drop the safety down as an extra guy. I think what's going to be important is that we come out and execute early throwing the football, changing up some formations and getting everyone involved."

That should be music to Brohm, Urrutia and Douglas' ears.

"We're going to have to loosen them up with the pass before we can run the football," Petrino said.

Senior Fare-well Louisville fans will say good-bye to a host of senior Saturday, including starters Kurt Quarterman, Renardo Foster, Kolby Smith, Amobi Okoye, Zach Anderson, William Gay and Brandon Sharp. Nate Harris, Abe Brown, Gavin Smart, Jimmy Riley and Michael Bush will also be honored.

"This week is about the seniors," Petrino said. "This will be the last game that the seniors will play in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and Thursday will be their last practice in the regular season. There will be a lot of emotion in everything that we do."

Kolby Smith will play his final
game at PJCS Saturday.

This group of senior has had a major impact on the program. Their four-year 39-9 record is the best of any senior group in school history. If the Cardinals reach the BCS this season, it will also be the first BCS bowl in school history.

"We're 10-1 and we have to line up Saturday and play and then see what happens," Petrino said.

UConn QB Out UConn starting quarterback D.J. Hernandez missed last week's 26-23 loss to Cincinnati and is also out for the this Saturday's game against Louisville. A dual-threat quarterback, Hernandez will be replaced by senior Matt Bonislawski. Bonislawski threw for 173 yards and two scores last Saturday against the Bearcats.

"Supposedly, Hernandez will be out, which gives them a little different look at quarterback," Petrino said. "The (backup) is more of a thrower and not as much a threat running the ball."

WVU's Pat White Ailing Louisville fans have to be concerned about the health of West Virginia quarterback Pat White heading into the Mountaineers game against Rutgers. White is nursing turf toe and a sprained ankle and has been limited during practice this week. Still, White is expected to play against the Scarlet Knights.

"It's (ankle) a little sore, but I'll definitely be ready for Saturday -- definitely, yes," White told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. "You can't think about, I guess, getting killed. You've got to do the killing."

Steve Slaton, West Virginia's talented running back, is also not at 100 percent. He's been slowed by an injured wrist that will likely require off-season surgery to repair. Slaton also is expected to play Saturday.

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