The first-year Louisville coach took heat – significant heat - from fans on talk radio and on popular fan message boards like InsideTheVille.com after Kentucky beat his team for the first time since John L. Smith roamed the U of L sideline.
Last Saturday, Kragthorpe heard directly from the fans at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, who voiced their disapproval throughout the Cardinals 38-35 loss to previously winless Syracuse.
"We've talked a lot about it," Kragthorpe said of U of L's disappointing start this season – a season that began as, perhaps, the most promising in program history. "We've got to hang together and continue to fight and stare adversity in the face and knock it down. And certainly we know that there's going to be some criticism out there and we certainly accept that. That's the nature of my job and that's the nature of being a college football player at the Division 1 level."
starting job is up for grabs
this week during practice.
"We have to focus on the task at hand and minimize as many distractions as we possibly can and keep focused on trying to be a better football team," Kragthorpe said.
That may be easier said than done, especially considering the growing intensity of fan displeasure. Kragthorpe says he's acutely aware that Louisville's fan-base, which took more than 30,000 fans to Miami last January for the FedEx Orange Bowl, isn't happy with the team's play after the season's first quarter.
"You can't be in the stadium and not hear it," he said. "I've been around this for so long. I've seen it (everywhere). That's always going to be the case. When you win people are happy. When you lose people are upset. And that's the nature of the business that I'm in, I know that and I accept that.
"It's probably tougher on my family than it is me because I can just come to work every day and just hunker down and start watching film and getting ready for the next opponent where my family has to be out in the community and hear things. But my wife and kids know that and they accept it."
Has Kragthorpe been surprised by the intensity of the criticism directed at him so early in the season, especially considering he's only coached four games at the University of Louisville?
"No, I'm not surprised at all because I've been in the National Football League, I've been at Texas A&M, I've been at Boston College, I've been a head coach," Kragthorpe said. "So I'm not surprised at all. I know that's one of the things that can happen when you're not playing the way that you want to play."
Kragthorpe understands it's important for his team to get back on track – immediately. That's why it's so important that his team plays well on the road Saturday against the 1-3 Wolfpack. Kragthorpe made clear that several starting jobs are up for grabs during practice this week, including star receiver Mario Urrutia's.
"This week is very important that we get back on track, have a good week of practice and play well against NC State," Kragthorpe said.
Kick-off for Louisville's game Saturday is slated for 3:30 and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
against NC State.
Kragthorpe also said that several positions, including the X receiver and the punting job, will be up for grabs this week. The X receiver, of course, is Mario Urrutia. Urrutia has struggled with consistency and other issues recently and Kragthorpe said that he'll have to battle Scott Long and Pat Carter this week to keep his starting job.
As poorly as Louisville has played the past two games, the Cardinals still rank No. 1 nationally in total offense. Quarterback Brian Brohm is third nationally in total offense (427 ypg) and Harry Douglas is third in receiving yards per game with 169.