Kragthorpe confident Cards will bounce back

Just like a great boxer, Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe has confidence that his team will bounce back quickly after suffering a tough defeat on the road Saturday night against rival Kentucky.

Just like a great boxer, Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe hopes his team can bounce back quickly after suffering a tough defeat on the road Saturday night against rival Kentucky.

The Cardinals returned to the practice field Monday afternoon for the first time since falling 40-34 to the Wildcats to begin preparations for their Big East opener against Syracuse this weekend. Kragthorpe, who also suffered his first loss as the Louisville coach in Lexington, is confident in his team's resiliency.

"I am confident (they'll bounce back) based on their attitudes this morning and the bounce in their step in the weight-room this afternoon," Kragthorpe said Monday during his weekly press conference. "I think they are excited to get back on the practice field and get going again."

Not one to dwell on a difficult setback, Kragthorpe is eager to forget the loss to the Wildcats and turn his – and his team's – full attention to the winless Orange.

Steve Kragthorpe said he's confident
his team will bounce back quickly
after losing to UK.
"We have a 24 hour rule and that means you have 24 hours to celebrate a victory and 24 hours to mourn a loss," Kragthorpe said. "You have to turn the page whether you win the football game and you're on a euphoric (high) or whether you lose the game like we did the other night. You've got to pick yourself back up and get ready to go again."

Kragthorpe said he accepts the total responsibility for building his team's confidence back up again.

"I think it falls on me because I'm the ship's captain," Kragthorpe said. "In a situation like this, it's on me to make sure the ship is going in the right direction. That's part of this job. I know it and I understand it. When you're in these situations you've got to step up and be a leader and encourage guys to lead with you. Obviously, my number job right now is to get this team back and ready to play against Syracuse."

Kragthorpe got a glimpse of his team's resilient spirit in the first half Saturday night. He said he was pleased how well his players responded after falling behind 13-0 in the first quarter against Kentucky and believes that will translate this week as his team prepares for Big East Conference play.

"I'm confident that our guys will respond now," Kragthorpe said. "Football is like life. Everybody is going to get knocked down. The true measure of a man is what he does when it happens. We've got to bounce back off the canvas, get our gloves back up and get ready to go."

"He's very, very positive and very upbeat," junior defensive tackle Earl Heyman said. "He doesn't like that we lost, especially in a rivalry game but he's looking to move forward and that's what he's been preaching. We're focused on the Big East and Syracuse."

Senior linebacker Malik Jackson, who recorded a sack against Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson, said he's learned a lot about Louisville's new coach in the past two days.

"We're not used to losing," Jackson said. "He's just trying to keep this team strong and move forward. It's not the end of the world. We have the Big East Conference to look forward to. We just have to focus on this next game and let that take our mind off the last one."

Kragthorpe hopes his team will use their setback against Kentucky as motivation for improvement.

"We are disappointed with the loss, but we've got to channel that disappointment and anger in a direction that will help us be(come) a better football team," Kragthorpe said. "There's no question that we made some mistakes in the game that we need to get corrected but I thought our effort was excellent and I thought our guys played hard."

Heyman echoed Kragthorpe's comments.

"Obviously, it was a very emotional game but it's over," he said. "Can't change it. Can't do nothing about it. We just have to learn from it and get ready for Syracuse, the first game of the Big East. (Coach Kragthorpe) thought we played hard and he said he couldn't ask for more than that."

A lot of Louisville fans have expressed concerns the past few days about the Cardinals season on talk radio and on's message boards. Jackson had a message for those fans Monday afternoon.

"Just hang in with us," he said. "It's a long season and we can still have a great season."

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