Cards take committee approach to running game

Against archrival Kentucky the University of Louisville's running game was harder to find than Waldo, that silly character that came to popularity in the 1990's. But in a matter of six days things changed drastically.

It went from - where's the running game? To a running back-by-committee.

Three Cardinals rushed for at least 45 yards apiece as UofL rushed 43 times for 234 yards in Saturday's 51-10 win over Tennessee Tech.

That was a nearly two football fields longer than what the Cards ran for in their 27-2 season-opening loss to UK on Aug. 31. They amassed just 53 yards on 29 carries - an average of 1.8 yards per rush - against the Wildcats.

Brock Bolen pounded Tennessee Tech early
in Saturday's contest.

Against the Golden Eagles, UofL averaged 5.4 yards a rush - its most since averaging 6.2 yards per carry in last season's second game against Middle Tennessee.

Redshirt freshman Victor Anderson led the way for Louisville, rushing 12 times for 114 yards - an average of 9.5 yards per carry - and a touchdown.

"It all started with the linemen, they came out fire-power blocking," Anderson said. "The running backs just came out and ran the ball." Both Anderson and senior fullback Brock Bolen got the UofL running game going early.

Bolen carried the ball seven yards on the Cards' second play of the game, then Anderson followed with an 11-yard rush. It was the start of a trend, and the beginning of the end for Tech. Seven of UofL's 11 plays on its first scoring drive of the game were rushes.

The biggest was a 12-yard power-rush up the middle by Bolen on fourth- and-1 from the Tech 27. It set up his 1-yard TD run four plays later. On the Cards' second play of their second possession Anderson rushed for 17 yards. It was significant because it gave UofL 53 rushing yards - matching its total from the first game - after only eight carries.

"The coaches were giving me the ball and I just decided to run it," Anderson said. "I wasn't thinking about 100 yards, I just wanted to help my team."

Anderson had a 5-yard run two plays later, then two plays after that UofL quarterback Hunter Cantwell threw a strike to Troy Pascley in the end zone on a play-action pass.

"Brock and Victor obviously had a great game," Cantwell said. "It takes a lot of pressure off the quarterback (when the running backs do well). The (defensive backs) started biting on the play-action and we got some good looks."

On UofL's third scoring drive the Cards gave the Golden Eagles a steady diet of Bolen. The 6-foot, 238-pound Bolen rushed four times on a six- play scoring drive, which he capped off with a 2-yard run for his second TD of the game.

Then on the Cards' fourth scoring drive it was Anderson's turn. The 5- foot-9, 182-pounder rushed five times for 53 yards on UofL's seven-play, 62-yard TD-drive. The St. Xavier High School graduate ran the football four straight times for gains of 18, 20, 7 and 3 yards. The final of those was for the first touchdown of his career.

"We emphasized (the running game) on offense," UofL coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "Our backs ran hard, especially Victor. He did a nice job of taking things from the inside and kicking them outside. We ran very physical today, especially our top three guys."

Anderson had 89 yards at halftime, which Louisville led 34-3, while Bolen had 38.

In the second half the Cards turned more to sophomore Bilal Powell. He rushed eight times for 35 yards after intermission on his way to finishing with 12 carries for 59 yards. Fellow sophomore Eugene Sowell also got into the act in the second half, rushing four times for 31 yards.

Strong efforts by Anderson, Bolen and Powell not only give UofL fans hope for the future, but the coaches too. The one thing it should also give Kragthorpe for the rest of the season is plenty of options.

"We'll need to count on all three of them all season long," Kragthorpe said in his post-game press conference. "As violent as this game is, especially at this level, we'll need our depth. It's a change with those guys and they all do things well. They all run well between the tackles and they do a good job of catching the ball. We're going to need all three all season and all three played well today."

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