Cards focused on explosive Kansas State

The old adage in college football is that teams make their biggest improvements between the first and second game. That seemed to hold true for Louisville, who made big strides against Tennessee Tech after a 27-2 loss to Kentucky to open the 2008 season.

Against Kentucky, Louisville failed to generate any offense. They didn't score an offensive touchdown against the Wildcats, couldn't generate much yardage on the ground and committed five turnovers against the Wildcats.

Those problems weren't evident against lowly Tennessee Tech last Saturday. The Cardinals ran for 243 yards, scored five offensive touchdowns and committed just two turnovers in the game. Louisville's offense looked much crisper and the execution noticeably better in week two.

"Overall it was a much better performance from last week and obviously that's what we wanted to see – a rebound from the loss to (Kentucky)," Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "I thought Hunter (Cantwell) did an excellent job managing the game and we were able to get him into rhythm. I was much more pleased with the way we played offense than I was the week before. But we've got a long way to go and we're still a work in progress."

"The execution was much better and that's where I saw the greatest improvement," Kragthorpe added.

Louisville will have to find a way to
slow Josh Freeman and the
explosive K-State offense.

While Louisville came out of the starting gate strong against Tennessee Tech, the Cardinals did pull up a little lame toward the end of the first half with several injuries to key offensive line starters Eric Wood, George Bussey and Abdul Kuyateh (Wood suffered a sprained knee; Bussey a sprained ankle). Those three will be continually evaluated leading up to next week's game against Kansas State at PJCS.

"We got beat up a little bit. The good thing is we've got 11 days from game day to game day," Kragthorpe said. "There are no season-ending injuries."

Defensively, Louisville turned in another solid effort against Tennessee Tech. The Cardinals allowed just one touchdown in a, 51-10, rout and completely dominated with their defense. Kragthorpe has seen a lot of positive signs from his defense in the first two games.

"I'm seeing gang-tackling and a lot of red jerseys around the football," said Kragthorpe.

This week, Louisville will focus on getting healthy on the offensive line while they turn their attention toward the 2-0 Wildcats. Kansas State has turned in two dominating offensive performances so far this season, including a 69-10 rout of Montana State last weekend.

"Kansas State is a very good football team with two convincing wins," said Kragthorpe.

The Wildcats can put points on the board in a hurry. Josh Freeman, Kansas State's talented junior quarterback, has started the season strong. He completed 16-of-21 passes for 288 yards and one touchdown against Montana State while the Wildcats offense rolled to 481 yards in the game. Kansas State averaged 7.3 yards per play against Montana State.

"Kansas State is a very explosive offensive team," Kragthorpe said. "They are big and physical on the offensive front. (And) Freeman is playing extremely well for them."

Kansas State has also been stingy on defense, giving up just 16 total points in their first two contests. The Wildcats use multiple defensive alignments, from a 3-4 look to a more conventional 4-3. They'll also throw in a 3-3-5 when opponents split multiple wide receivers out.

"They're very multiple on the defensive side of the ball. They're very aggressive and a 34 blitz team with multiple blitzes and coverages," said Kragthorpe. "They remind me a lot of the New England Patriots. They do a good job disguising their intentions with 34 personnel in the game.

"We've got to have a good week of preparation."

Louisville has an added challenge – as well as some extra time – to prepare for the Wildcats with 11 days in between games. After playing the Wildcats, the Cards will have nine days to prepare for UConn. They'll have two weeks to get ready for Memphis following their Big East opener.

"We're in non-regular mode," said Kragtorpe.

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