Cards young receivers growing up quickly

After a sluggish start to the 2008 season, Louisville's young wide receivers have shown rapid improvement in the Cardinals last two games. As UofL heads into Big East play Friday against UConn, the Cards improving wide receiver corps could also get a big boost.

With No. 1 wide receiver Scott Long sidelined for the first three games with an injury, Louisville has seen several inexperienced wide outs step up and make plays for the Cardinals offense in wins over Tennessee Tech and Kansas State.

That was a welcomed development for a receiver corps that struggled against Kentucky in the season opener. Against the Wildcats, Louisville managed just 152 passing yards and failed to make any big plays through the air in a 27-2 loss.

Since that first game, however, Louisville's young wide receivers have been growing up quickly. And Doug Beaumont has been Louisville's brightest star in Long's absence.

The 5-foot-9 sophomore leads the team with 23 receptions for 279 yards. He caught a career-high nine passes for 119 yards last week against Kansas State and is averaging 93 yards per contest heading into Friday's Big East opener against UConn.

"Doug is playing well for us, there's no doubt," Kragthorpe said. "Doug is a complete player. He's a good blocker, he's a good pass receiver and he's a good special team player. Doug is doing a great job for us and he's very focused. He's a great practice player and I think that's why he plays so well in games."

"Doug always seems to be open and he plays bigger than what he really is," added quarterback Hunter Cantwell.

Josh Chichester is beginning to make big plays
for the Cardinals offense.

A versatile offensive threat, Beaumont also sees action on special teams – albeit far less than he did last season because of his increased workload on offense. Beaumont, who didn't catch a pass last season as a true freshman, ranks sixth nationally in receptions per game (7.67) and 25th in yards per game.

"One of the things we try to do with Doug is move him around to different spots," Kragthorpe said. "Doug's a guy that can play multiple positions."

Josh Chichester, a 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman, has emerged as a big-play threat early in the season for the UofL offense. Chichester caught a career-high four passes for 55 yards against Kansas State, including an 18 yard touchdown reception against the Wildcats. Chichester is second on the team with 10 receptions for 125 yards.

While Troy Pascley has only caught two passes this season, the sophomore wide receiver has made the most of limited opportunity turning both catches into touchdowns. On his second touchdown grab of the season against Kansas State, Pascley was slow to get up in the end zone but should be ready to go against the Huskies.

"He just kind of jammed his hip on that play – everybody thought it was his knee," said Kragthorpe. "He's fine. He should practice all week long and should be ready to go."

Louisville could also get a big boost this week if junior wide receiver Scott Long returns to action. Long, the Cardinals No. 1 receiver heading into the season missed Louisville's first three games recovering from a broken bone in his foot suffered during fall camp.

"Scott is practicing this week and it's going to be a game day decision for him," Kragthorpe said. "We'll see how it goes and hopefully get him back pretty quickly. There's an outside chance for this week. Hopefully he'll be ready this week; if not he will definitely be (ready) against Memphis."

Long made 27 receptions for 358 yards last season and would add more size and speed to the Cardinals wide receiver corps.

"He has size and speed – two good attributes for a wide receiver," Kragthorpe said. "He's a guy that plays with speed and he loves playing the game."

Bussey could return against UConn.

**Louisville ran for 303 yards and went for more than 500 yards total offense against Kansas State. The Cardinals did that with two offensive line starters out with injury. Credit goes to Josh Byrom and Greg Tomczyk, who made their first career starts against the Wildcats replacing Mark Wetterer and George Bussey, respectively.

"I think Josh and Greg did an excellent job for us," Kragthorpe said. "They came in in a situation where we needed them to step up in a marquee game and both of those guys did an excellent job of protecting the passer and run blocking. I thought technically they got even better as the game went on. They're going to be good football players for us. They're young guys and I'm excited about their future."

**Kragthorpe said he's hopeful that both Bussey and Wetterer would return Friday against the Huskies. "They'll be game day decisions," said Kragthorpe.

**Louisville's kicking game has dropped off significantly with Art Carmody gone. Chris Philpott won the job out of fall camp but has struggled in the first three games. It appears sophomore Purdue transfer Tim Dougherty will replace Philpott as the Cardinals placekicker, while the freshman retains his kick-off duties.

"We need one (kicker)," said Kragthorpe. "We've got to be more consistent at that position. We've got to have a guy that can step up and I thought Tim did that. I thought Chris kicked off pretty well the other night so we're looking at different combinations."

**If the early season has taught us anything it's this: The Big East is wide open. That's why Louisville's game against UConn is so important this week.

"It's going to be a tight race – a race that extends throughout the course of the entire regular season and could come down to the end," said Kragthorpe. "It's going to be an exciting race."

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