Cards look to ground UConn in Big East opener

Louisville, boasting the nation's No. 2 ranked rush defense, will try to slow down UConn's Donald Brown, the nation's leading rusher, Friday night at PJCS in the Big East opener for both teams.

UofL coach Steve Kragthorpe knows his team's top priority against the Huskies is slowing down the elusive and hard running Donald Brown, who has rushed for 716 yards and 10 touchdowns in four games this season.

Brown didn't play much last year in UConn's controversial 21-17 victory over the Cardinals but he's been red-hot early this season. Brown comes into Big East play averaging 179 yards per game and leads a UConn ground attack that ranks sixth nationally at 279 yards per contest.

"Connecticut is going to come in and try to run the football at us because they're good at it and it's what they do," Kragthorpe said. "And they have the leading rusher in the country right now in Donald Brown."

It's a good thing Brown and the Huskies ground game has been solid this season because UConn's passing game, led by quarterback Tyler Lorenzen, has struggled. UConn's passing offense ranks No. 106 nationally. And while he's completing a high percentage of his throwns, Lorenzen has also thrown six interceptions with just one touchdown.

"UConn is a challenging opponent," Kragthorpe said. "They're very sound in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams. And Tyler is playing very well for them at the quarterback position. He not only throws the ball well but they also put in a lot of run packages for him similar to what Florida does with Tim Tebow."

Defensively, UConn figures to present a tough challenge for Hunter Cantwell and the Louisville offense – an offense coming off a 500-yard, 38 point performance last week against Kansas State. The Huskies, led by linebacker Scott Lutrus, rank among the Top 25 nationally in rush defense (22), scoring defense (15) and total defense (21).

"Scott Lutrus is a great football player," said Kragthorpe. "They're playing well up front and they are a bend don't break defense. They make you earn everything you get. They do not give up big plays. They're sound, they run to the ball and they tackle very well. They are gap sound against the run and they don't get the ball thrown over their heads."


Victor Anderson hopes to keep piling up the
yards against UConn's stiff defense.

The Cardinals might have found some chinks in UConn's defensive armor this week while studying the game film of the Huskies 31-28 win over Baylor last week.

"They're very good at what they do," Cantwell said. "They don't think you can sustain an 11 or 12 play drive against their defense. So we've got to play smart and take what they give us and not play into their style."

"Baylor was able to do some things because their quarterback was able to make plays and run around and also they established a good running game early on," said Cantwell. "They were running the ball well and taking advantage with some shots down the middle because (UConn's) safeties were getting too much width. They were able to run some play-action, get the linebackers to suck up and make some throws down the middle."

That would seem to play right into both Cantwell and Louisville's strength's on offense. Not only does Cantwell excel in play-action situations, but the Cardinals also ran for 303 yards against Kansas State with freshman Victor Anderson emerging as one of the Big East's most explosive running backs.

"I like the progress we've made," Kragthorpe said. "Now we've got to show we can be a consistent performer. This is our first Big East game and we'd love to get off to a good start."

Series Notes

  • Friday's game marks the fifth game between the Cardinals and Huskies.
  • The Cardinals lead the overall series, 3-1.
  • The Cardinals have never lost to UConn in Louisville, going 2-0 all-time.

    OFFENSIVE NOTES

  • Senior center Eric Wood will be making his 41st straight start at center.
  • Louisville had two 100-yard rushers (Victor Anderson 176 and Brock Bolen 104) in a single game for the first time since Oct 22, 2005.
  • WR Doug Beaumont had a career-high nine receptions for 119 yards against Kansas State.
  • The Louisville offense produced a season-high 577 yards against Kansas State, its most since gaining 671 in a 62-0 victory over Temple on Sept. 9, 2006.
  • George Bussey missed the Kansas State game with an injury, snapping his string of 27 consecutive starting assignments.

    DEFENSIVE NOTES

  • After allowing Kansas State 169 total yards in the first half, the Louisville defense limited the Wildcats to 22 yards on three third quarter possessions that ended in three-and-out.
  • The Cardinals have forced seven turnovers in the last two games, which have led to 35 points.
  • The Louisville defense has allowed just one rushing touchdown all season.
  • Louisville has held two of its three opponents to less than 40 yards of rushing. Kentucky recorded 63 yards in the season opener.

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