Kragthorpe focusing on the positives

Here's the scenario Steve Kragthorpe wants to see more of from his 3-3 Louisville team in the second half of the season: Score. Kickoff. Get a stop on defense and force a punt. Score again.

Here's the scenario Steve Kragthorpe wants to see more of from his 3-3 Louisville team in the second half of the season:

Score. Kickoff. Get a stop on defense and force a punt. Score again.

You get the point. It's not rocket science. That's how you score more points than the other team and win football games.

That chain of events, though, hasn't happened a lot for the Cardinals in the first six games of the 2007 season. That's one reason the Cards are playing .500 football, having dropped games against Kentucky, Syracuse and Utah.

But there is hope for the Cardinals. As evidence, Kragthorpe submits the start of the second half in last week's 44-35 loss to Utah. Trailing 27-7 to the Utes at halftime, Louisville scored on its first two possessions of the second half, while stopping the Utah offense in between scores.

That's how Louisville got back in the game against Utah, cutting a 20 point halftime deficit to a manageable 27-21 in the third quarter with plenty of football left to be played. Now the trick for Kragthorpe and staff is to figure out how to play like they did in the second half against Utah for a complete game.

Steve Kragthorpe is focused on staying
positive through adversity.
"I thought the third quarter was the kind of football that I would like to see us play all the time," Kragthorpe said. "We came out and we stopped them on defense and we took the ball down and scored on two successive drives. We got it to 27-21 and we pinned them down there on the 18 yard line. I thought our team showed a lot of character in the third quarter."

With losses mounting and a tough game against No. 17 Cincinnati Saturday night, maintaining team morale and confidence is a main concern. How does Kragthorpe plan to keep the team upbeat and optimistic?

"I think the biggest thing that you do is stay positive as a coach and stay positive as a person and you continue to fight and work hard and show the guys that we're all in this things together," Kragthorpe said. "I want to get this thing fixed as much as anyone does and I know they do to."

Staying positive. That's the plan.

"We're going to stay positive. Obviously, there are a lot of negatives surrounding us right now but we're going to be positive in our camp in this building and accentuate the things that we're doing well," Kragthorpe said. "We've got to play like we did in the third quarter and with that kind of energy all the time and if we do we will have a chance to be successful."

Dealing with adversity and tough times isn't new territory for Kragthorpe. In his second season at Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane lost 8 of 12 games on the season. Then last year, after starting the season 7-1, Kragthorpe's last team at Tulsa lost 4 of their last 5 games. Did Kragthorpe learn anything from those experiences at Tulsa that could help him here in Louisville?

"The biggest thing you do is stay positive and you continue to fight," Kragthorpe said. "We're not giving up and we're going to continue to battle. We're going to continue to work hard and we're going to continue to try to find ways to be successful. Adversity is going to strike at various points in time and we've got to continue to fight and battle. And I'm confident that our coaching staff and players are going to do that."

Though Kragthorpe is trying to stay positive – and get his players to stay that way, too, it's certainly a tough task with all the negativity floating around on campus, on talk radio, in the newspapers and message boards and on the street. Can Louisville's coach realistically shield his players from all the negative vibes in the community?

"You have to do the best job that you can to block those things out," Kragthorpe said. "It's difficult and we've got to get them focused on the task at hand. I don't think anybody in their right mind would say it's easy. And I don't think anybody is telling the truth if they say they don't hear it."

What Kragthorpe and the Cardinals need most is a win. And a win over Cincinnati would be a big deal indeed.

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