"It's going to be a great challenge this week," Steve Kragthorpe said. "We're going to have to play extremely well. It's a great place to play. It's loud and everybody is right on top of you."
Louisville nearly pulled out an upset at UK last week, but were undone by two fourth quarter turnovers and several missed chances in the red zone.
"We didn't capitalize on a lot of things," said quarterback Justin Burke. "We've got to get much better in the red zone. Me personally, I have to get a lot better in the red zone. I lost my focus down there and it hurt us. But as a team we're going to learn how to close out games like that."
Burke pointed to mental mistakes for some of the Cardinals struggles in the red zone. Louisville had four scoring opportunities in the third quarter but came away with six points on two field goals by Ryan Payne.
Solving their offensive problems in the red zone won't be an easy job against a tough Utah defense that ranks 37th nationally in total defense, 17th vs. the pass and is allowing just 20.7 points per contest.
"They're fast, they're a good defense," Burke said. "They've got good coaches and good players. But we've got good players. We go by the motto it's not what they do it's what we do. Had we taken care of our business at UK we would have scored quite a few more points. We've got the coaches and the scheme to counter act (them)."
The Utes return eight starters from last season's Sugar Bowl championship team – Utah beat Alabama in that game to finish the season 13-0 – and Kragthorpe expects Utah coach Kyle Whittingham to bring lots of pressure against Justin Burke, who will be making just his third career start.
"They're very good on defense. They're very aggressive," Kragthorpe said. "He's (Whittingham) very heavily involved in calling the defense. They're going to use a multitude of blitzes. They're going to bring it from both edges with the SAM and strong safety. They're going to bring the free safety up the middle. That's one of their favorite ones. They're going to be multiple in their pressure and knocking down the runs."
In their loss to Oregon, the Utah defense allowed three offensive touchdowns, including two three play scoring drives of 66 and 61 yards that took just 1:09 and :42 seconds off the clock. The Utes held the Ducks to just 95 passing yards on 4 of 16 passes, but gave up 217 yards on the ground and three scores.
"I thought they played extremely well on defense against Oregon," Kragthorpe said. "Oregon's quarterback was 4 of 16 in the game. I thought they did a good job of containing him in that game. They gave up a couple of big plays and a punt return and that was the deciding points in the game."
Offensively, Utah has moved the ball well with junior college transfer quarterback Terrance Cain, averaging 438 yards total offense per game. The Utes boost a balanced attack with Cain's passing and 5'11, 235 pound Matt Asiata's power running. Through three games, Cain has averaged 237 yards passing with three touchdowns. Asiata averages 101 yards rushing per game and has scored three touchdowns. He'll operate out of the Wildcat formation, particularly around the goal line.
"Cain's playing well for them at quarterback," Kragthorpe said. "They've got a different group of receivers this year but it looks like they're very productive at that position. They're offensive line is big and physical. And Asiata is a very good back that will play out of the Wildcat formation. We have to be ready for that."
- The Cardinals forced three turnovers in the loss to Kentucky, winning the turnover battle for the second straight game. Louisville is +3 this season.
- Running back Victor Anderson recorded his sixth career 100-yard game in the loss to Kentucky. Louisville is 3-3 when Anderson reaches the century mark.
- In three seasons as the head coach of the Cardinals, head coach Steve Kragthorpe is 3-8 on the road and is 5-7 in games decided by seven points or less.
The Cardinals have lost their last four road games. Louisville's last road win was a 35-28 decision at Memphis on Oct. 10, 2008.
Junior starting strong safety Terence Simien is out indefinitely with a lacerated kidney.
The Series - U of L and Utah
The Cardinals and Utes will meet for the fourth time in school history this week when Louisville and Utah square off on Saturday. Utah came in to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in 2007 and left with a 44-35 win. The Utes also won games in 1997 and 1998.
GAME FACTS - Louisville (1-1) at Utah (2-1)
Date:Saturday, Sept. 26
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Site: Rice-Eccles Stadium (45,017), Salt Lake City, Utah
TV: CBS College Sports will televise the game with Tom Hart (play-by-play) and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila (analyst)
Radio: Paul Rogers (play-by-play) and Craig Swabek (analyst) will call all the action and Doug Ormay will report from the sidelines on WKRD 790 AM
SIRIUS Satellite Radio, Ch. 129, XM Satellite Radio, Ch. 203