Cards look to bounce back vs. Tennessee Tech

Steve Kragthorpe admits that Louisville's 27-2 loss to Kentucky last week was ‘deflating' for his team. Now, the Cardinals hope to bounce back and put some points on the board against Tennessee Tech Saturday afternoon at PJCS.

Against Kentucky in the season opener, Louisville's offense struggled mightily. The Cardinals gained just 205 total yards, committed five turnovers and didn't score an offensive point in the contest. It was the worst showing by a Louisville offense since a 32-0 blanking at Florida State in 2000.

Expected to step in for Brian Brohm and keep the Louisville offense flying high, quarterback Hunter Cantwell struggled to connect with his young wide receivers against Kentucky and threw three interceptions while fumbling once. Louisville also couldn't generate any yardage on the ground, rushing for a meager 53 yards on 29 carries.

Louisville hopes to get going on the
ground against Tennessee Tech.

"We didn't run the ball well, we kept ourselves in long down and distance situations on third down and didn't convert those," Kragthorpe said. "What we didn't want to happen did happen."

Louisville had hoped to run the ball better after focusing on strengthening that aspect during the off-season. But Cardinal running backs Brock Bolen, Bilal Powell and Victor Anderson found very little room to run against the Wildcats defense.

"Obviously we've got to be able to run the football better than we did against (Kentucky)," said Kragthorpe. "We've got to be able to put ourselves in down and distance situations where we can dictate the tempo of the game and be able to open up our playbook. You get a little constricted when you don't do that."

According to Kragthorpe, Louisville's problems on the ground aren't solely related to the offensive line.

"We did some good things on the offensive line," Kragthorpe said. "We missed a couple of checks in a couple of situations where we were running uphill on a couple of plays and the running backs missed a couple reads in terms of where they were supposed to hit the hole. I thought George Bussey and Eric Wood played very good games for us. I thought Jeff Adams in his first start played a good game for us.

"There were some situations where we didn't do a good enough job blocking on the perimeter with the wide receivers," Kragthorpe explained. "The running game is not just a function of how the offensive line plays it's a function of how everybody is playing. Getting us in and out of the right plays at the quarterback position, getting great perimeter blocks with the wide receivers, tight end and fullbacks, getting inside blocks with tight ends and fullbacks and also the offensive line. It all fits in together."

Turnovers also helped undue the Cardinals chances against Kentucky. Powell's fumble in the second quarter was returned for a touchdown to put Kentucky ahead 10-0 at halftime. Two of Cantwell's second half turnovers led to another 14 Kentucky points.

"A lot of our errors were unforced errors and we didn't execute as well as we're capable," said Kragthorpe. "I felt like there were some things we could have done better that would have put us in position to get more significant yardage."

Kragthorpe said Cantwell tried to force the issue late in the game because the Cardinals offense struggled to generate yardage or points throughout the contest.

"I thought he was a little impatient as the game wore on," Kragthorpe said.

The Cardinals now must put their loss to Kentucky behind them, focus on fixing the offensive mistakes and get ready for Tennessee Tech, led by former UofL quarterback Lee Sweeney. Sweeney threw for 199 yards and one touchdown in Tech's 28-12 victory over Gardner Webb last weekend.

"I think a lot of things are correctable," Kragthorpe said. "This team will bounce back. I'm confident of that. We have to use the (loss) as motivation, not a downer."

Kick-off is at 3:30 p.m. The contest will be televised locally on WHAS-11.

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