Though Louisville owns a 9-6 advantage since the series with Kentucky renewed in 1994, Kragthorpe has failed to defeat the Wildcats in two attempts as the UofL coach. The Cardinals lost 40-34 in Lexington his first season and 27-2 at PJCS last year. Kragthorpe is clearly on the hot seat with Louisville fans and his inability to beat Kentucky is one of the reasons.
After a sloppy performance in the season opening 30-10 win over Indiana State, Kragthorpe will lead Louisville back to Lexington this weekend in search of his first win against the Cards main rival.
"It's going to be a great matchup and we're excited about it," Kragthorpe said. "It's fun to play in rivalry games like this on national television. So our guys are excited about the week of practice and all the things that lead up to this game."
Shutout on offense in last season's matchup against the Wildcats, Louisville will rely heavily on junior quarterback Justin Burke to jump start the Cardinals offensive attack. Burke, who hails from Lexington, started slowly in his first start versuses Indiana State but rebounded to finish 17-of-31 for 223 yards and two interceptions.
On defense, Louisville will have to devote extra attention to Kentucky wide receiver Randall Cobb. Cobb caught one touchdown and rushed for one touchdown against Miami (OH). He is a dangerous threat in Kentucky's 'Wildcat Formation," where he takes a direct snap from center.
"There's a lot of different ways to defend that thing," Kragthorpe said. "We're trying to find the best way now. We worked on it last week. We'll work on it this week."
Stopping Cobb, one of the best offensive weapon's in the SEC this season, will be a major part of Louisville's focus on defense this Saturday.
"He's a definite threat for two reasons: Number one he can run the ball extremely well but you've got to remember he was a high school quarterback so he can throw it too," Kragthorpe said. "That brings an added dimension because a lot of times it's a running back back there and he can throw it out of that formation."
The game will be televised on ESPNU at 12 noon. Insight Communications in Louisville has obtained permission from ESPNU to offer the Governor's Cup game on Sept. 19 to their analog and digital cable customers in Louisville.
Louisville was held without a touchdown in last season's game. Kentucky forced five turnovers and scored two touchdowns in the win. The Wildcats limited UofL to just 205 yards of total offense. In their first game this season, the Wildcats limited Miami (OH) to only 188 yards of total offense while holding the Redhawks scoreless.
The Cardinals are 3-2 after a bye-week under Steve Kragthorpe.
Louisville fielded ten first time starters against Indiana State: QB Justin Burke, OC Mario Benavides, OT Byron Stingily, WR Trent Guy, WR Andrew Robinson, CB Bobby Burns, SS Terence Simien, FS Chaz Thompson, DT Drew Davis, DE William Savoy.
LB Horace Miller was the only true freshman to play against the Sycamores in the first game.
William Savoy's sack against Indiana State in the third quarter was the first sack the Cardinals had recorded in six games.
Justin Burke threw two interceptions in the season opener. Louisville has 19 interceptions in its last 13 games.
Louisville's offense struggled on third down against Indiana State, converting just 1 of 9 third downs. The Cardinals had six third downs with six or more yards to go and failed to convert each time.
Louisville scored 13 points (touchdown, two field goals) on four Indiana State turnovers last week in the season opening win.
Junior college lineman Malcolm Tatum played both tackle and end against Indiana State and recorded six tackles, three solos. Tatum is listed No. 2 on the depth chart behind William Savoy at end this week against Kentucky. Savoy had six tackles and recorded two sacks against Indiana State.
Louisville made just eight picks in 2008. The Cardinals recorded three interceptions against Indiana State in the opener. Johnny Patrick, Terence Simien and Brandon Heath each made INT's against the Sycamores.
The Cardinals defensive line will get some help against Kentucky. L.T. Walker, Joe Townsend, Tyler Jessen and Tim High all missed last weeks game for various reasons but are expected to be on the field in Lexington this Saturday. Townsend and Jessen were cleared last Thursday.
WR Trent Guy and OG Mark Wetterer are slowed by injuries currently but are expected to play against UK. TE Nate Nord has also returned to action from injury.
Louisville made just five field goals last season but Ryan Payne connected on 3 of 4 field goals against Indiana State, hitting from 28, 21, and 31 yards. He missed a 35-yarder.