Cards set for UConn's strong ground attack

Louisville (2-1), coming off an important non-conference win over Kansas State last week, now turns its attention to undefeated Connecticut in their Big East opener Friday night at PJCS.

After starting the season with a resounding 27-2 loss to Kentucky, the Cardinals have since started to put the pieces together, especially on offense, in two wins over Tennessee Tech and Kansas State. In downing the Wildcats 38-29 last week, Louisville piled up over 500 yards total offense, controlled the game's tempo with a strong ground attack and finished plus-3 in turnovers.

That's the kind of stuff that really puts a coach in a good mood.

"I was really pleased with how we played against what I thought was a very good Kansas State team," Kragthorpe said. "I thought we were able to minimize them running the football and their running game and put them in down and distance situations where they had to throw the ball. Once we did that we were able to get a little pressure on (Josh Freeman) and get him unsettled."


Louisville must slow UConn's
Donald Brown, the nation's top
rusher.

Though he ran for more than 100 yards against Tennessee Tech, Louisville redshirt freshman running back Victor Anderson had his coming out party against Kansas State, rushing for 167 yards and three touchdowns of 27, 29 and 56 yards. Anderson was named the Big East's Offensive Player of the Week on Monday for his effort against K-State.

"I thought he played really, really well, broke tackles in the open field and showed his speed on the boundary," said Kragthorpe. "He's not the biggest guy out there but he plays big in the way he physically runs the football. I think he has a lot of potential to improve."

Now at 2-1, Kragthorpe is ready to takes his team into Big East play Friday night against UConn – a contest that will be broadcast on ESPN2. Last season, the Huskies won a controversial 21-17 contest that was marked by an illegal Huskies fair-catch that went uncalled – and for a touchdown. While Kragthorpe downplayed last year's controversial finish during Monday's Big East conference call, you can bet the partisans at PJCS Friday night haven't forgotten.

"Last year is over," said Kragthorpe. "We've got a big matchup this week against UConn in another national television game. It's our first league game and it's a big game. I think our guys are excited to start conference play."

UConn enters the game with a sparkling 4-0 record and are coming off a 31-28 win over Baylor last weekend.

"They're playing extremely well," said Kragthorpe. "I think they are a very sound football team. The thing you look at when you turn on the tapes is they don't make very many mistakes. They're going to make you beat them. They're not going to turn the football over, they're going to create turnovers on defense and they're very sound on special teams. They are a very complete football team."

Louisville's defense faces a big challenge this week – UConn running back Donald Brown. Brown, the nation's leading rusher, is averaging 179 yards per game through the season's first four games. Brown has already scored 10 touchdowns and has rushed for 716 yards on 113 attempts. With Brown leading the way, UConn ranks second nationally in rushing, raking up 279 yards per contest.

"They didn't run him as much last year against us as they did in previous games," Kragthorpe said. "(But) he's very elusive and hard to tackle. He's a guy that you never get a clean shot on and he bounces off a lot of tackles. And he catches the ball well out of the backfield and changes directions very quickly."

Louisville has been sound against the run all season and ranks second nationally in rushing defense, allowing opponents only 42 yards per game on the ground. The Cards held Kansas State to 33 yards rushing last Wednesday. They'll face their biggest challenge, though, Friday against Brown and the Huskies.

"We're going to have to be very assignment sound," Kragthorpe said.


Scott Long might return against
Connecticut.

INJURY UPDATE: Steve Kragthorpe said on the Big East teleconference Monday that junior wide receiver Scott Long will practice this week and could play Friday night against UConn. Long missed Louisville's first three games with an injury.

"Scotty should be back pretty quick, maybe even this week," Kragthorpe said. "He's going to practice this week and we'll see how it goes."

NOTES FROM WEEKLY PRESS RELEASE:

  • After missing the Kansas State game with injury, starting offensive linemen George Bussey and Mark Wetterer are listed as probable starters for this Friday's contest against UConn. Both players were also listed as probable starters last week against Kansas St. Bussey and Wetterer missed the game with high ankle sprains.
  • After recording back-to-back 100 yard rushing games, Victor Anderson is now listed as Louisville's probable starter at running back – which should come as no surprise.
  • Chris Campa is again listed as the probable starter at middle linebacker. Antwon Canady started the season opener against Kentucky, but was replaced in the starting lineup by Campa the past two games.
  • Tim Dougherty has replaced struggling freshman place-kicker Chris Philpott.

    NATIONAL RANKING:

  • Louisville ranks 27th nationally in rushing offense; 42nd in total offense; 2nd in rushing defense;13th in total defense. The Cardinals rank 111th in net punting; 117th in kickoff returns; 111th in sacks; and 77th in pass efficiency.
  • Connecticut ranks 6th nationally in rushing offense; 22nd in rushing defense; 21st in total defense; 15th in scoring defense; 16th in sacks and 9th sacks allowed.

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