The Cardinals are coming off a 35-10 loss Friday to Pittsburgh in their Big East opener, a game in which the Panthers pounded Louisville 28-0 after halftime. Louisville now has lost eight straight games against Division 1 opponents, including six consecutive Big East contests.
"We're obviously disappointed with the way we played in the second half," Kragthorpe said Monday morning on the Big East coaches teleconference. "We went into the halftime locker room with a 10-7 lead and really three series determined the second half. The first three series of the second half were catastrophic for us."
Now, the Cardinals will step outside the Big East to play old C-USA rival Southern Mississippi this weekend. Kragthorpe said his team is frustrated by their three game losing streak this season.
"I think they had a great day yesterday watching the film and making the corrections we need to make," Kragthorpe said. "We had a little team run and I think our guys are in a good mindset right now. They just want to win and they're frustrated right now because we feel we beat ourselves in the three losses. We've had a lot of self-inflicted errors. We've got to do a better job taking care of the football, not giving up deep shots in the passing game and (do a better job) on third down conversions."
Southern Miss enters the game 3-2 on the season, but lost their last game to UAB. The Golden Eagles also lost starting quarterback Austin Davis for the season with a foot injury. Fortunately, Southern Miss expects to get top running back Damian Fletcher and 6'6 wide receiver De'Andre Brown. Junior Martevious Young will replace Davis at quarterback. He's completed two career passes at Southern Miss.
"They're a very talented team but it will be a different team because their quarterback isn't going to play," Kragthorpe said. "Their backup is a very talented guy. We will see a very different team than UAB saw last week because Brown and Fletcher will both be back – their marquee players on the offensive side of the ball."
Typically solid on defense, Southern Miss has 15 sacks and forced nine turnovers in five games this season. The Golden Eagles are allowing just 286.6 yards and 23.6 points per game, though Virginia, Kansas and UAB all scored more than 30 points.
"On defensive side, they're athletic, they run to the ball well, they don't give up big plays and they're playing real solid on that side," Kragthorpe said.
If Kragthorpe hopes to see better production from an offense that has struggled the past two weeks, he'll have to find a quick solution for an offensive line that has allowed 10 sacks the last two games. Kragthorpe hinted that personnel changes might be part of the solution.
"We're looking at a couple different combinations," Kragthorpe said. "We think Jeff Adams needs to play a little bit more. Jeff had a bad case of the flu during training camp and lost about 20 pounds. I think he's getting back to full strength. And we'll look at getting Joe Evinger in the mix this week at either right guard or left guard. We feel like he's been here long enough to have a thorough understanding of the season and can play a little bit. We'll mix those two in a little more."