Quarterback controversy heading to WVU?

Steve Kragthorpe said Monday morning on the Big East coaches conference call that he has a quarterback controversy to sort out before Louisville heads to Morgantown Saturday to face West Virginia.

The Cardinals, 0-3 in Big East play, have had three different starters at quarterback this season. Through eight games, Justin Burke, Adam Froman and Will Stein have all started games for Louisville. Burke started UofL's first three games, going 1-2. Froman replaced Burke against Pittsburgh and went 1-3 as the starter, dropping Big East games to the Panthers, UConn and Cincinnati. Froman was replaced last Saturday by Stein, a 5'8 walk-on, against Arkansas State, a 21-13 win for the Cardinals.

"We've got a quarterback controversy now with three guys that have won games," said Kragthorpe. "We'll just wait and see during the week of practice how much Justin and Adam can do. I think Will performed well for us and I was proud of how well he played. He did a great job performing in his first ever college start."

Will Stein played well last week.
Stein completed 20-of-39 passes for 232 yards and one interception against Arkansas St. With Stein under center, Louisville posted 408 yards of total offense but scored just 14 points. Kragthorpe expects all three quarterbacks will be ready to go against the Mountaineers.

"[Will] is certainly in the mix," said Kragthorpe. "Hopefully all three of those guys we'll have them available and then we'll just make it a game-day decision in terms of which guy we start. I think all three of those guys will be available."

Louisville hopes to snap an eight-game Big East losing streak against West Virginia. The Mountaineers have defeated the Cardinals the past two years. Louisville's last win in Morgantown came in 1990.

"Quarterback is one of my lesser concerns because I feel like we've got guys that are capable of playing and have proven that," Kragthorpe said. "All three of those guys should be available, I hope. We've just got to see how the week of practice goes. That's what we did last week. We thought Adam might be able to go toward the end of the week but he wasn't so we started Will."

West Virginia will be a heavy favorite in the contest. The Mountaineers, 6-2, have the best rushing offense in the league behind explosive running back Noel Devine and rank second in the Big East in total offense. Louisville has allowed 38 points and 415 yards total offense in three Big East contests this season.

"Going to West Virginia this week is a huge challenge for us," Kragthorpe said. "They're playing very well. The quarterback is playing well for them and every time Devine touches the ball something magical is going to happen. He makes you hold your breath."

Devine has five 100 yard games this season but was held to 42 yards on 17 carries in the Mountaineers 30-19 loss to South Florida last Friday. Devine was the nation's third-leading rusher with 130 yards per game.

"They did a nice job of containing him," Kragthorpe said. "They were very disciplined staying home on the back side making sure he didn't get those big cutback runs. Penetration is a key. You've got to penetrate on the backside."

Defensively, West Virginia gave up some big plays to USF, including a 49 yard touchdown throw to Carlton Mitchell.

"They did give up some big plays but I think a little of that was the fact that USF was running the ball as well as they did," Kragthorpe said. "So they were commanding a little more secondary help for the run. If you can't run the football they can sit back and play cover two all day."

Louisville will try to find success on the ground against the No. 2 rated run defense in the Big East. The Cardinals were without leading rusher Victor Anderson against Arkansas State and his status this week remains questionable, at best.

"I think Vic's closer," Kragthorpe said. "It will depend on how he does in the week of practice, how much work we can get him and how he feels about the physical part of taking contact. We sat him out all last week and he missed the game. I think he's going to be close. We'll just wait and see after Wednesday or Thursday's practice and see how he comes out of the week."

Kragthorpe creates stir with Gruden joke

Steve Kragthorpe won't be performing at the Comedy Caravan this weekend, but he seemed to be fine tuning his routine Monday afternoon during his weekly press conference at the University of Louisville football complex.

While he won't be working the comedy club circuit, Kragthorpe will be in Morgantown, W.V., this Saturday where he hopes to lead Louisville to their first Big East win in their last nine league games.

Kragthorpe sounded jovial on Monday, opening his press conference with a joke about Jon Gruden, the former Super Bowl championship coach rumored to be a candidate to replace him next season as the Cardinals coach.

"Sorry I'm a little late. I was actually talking to Jon Gruden," joked Kragthorpe. "He wanted to know how tall Will Stein was. I said 5'7 on a good day."

Things aren't looking good for the embattled coach as his team prepares for Saturday's game against the Mountaineers. Louisville is 3-5 this season and is coming off a 21-13 win over Arkansas State in front of the smallest crowd in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium history. Only 21,497 fans showed up to watch the Cardinals last Saturday. PJCS will expand by about 15,000 seats next season.

"I thought we had a great group of Louisville fans at the game," Kragthorpe said. "I appreciated the fans coming. I know the players appreciated the people there. People can make the decision whether to come to the games or not. I'm not going to influence that. They were loud and proud and did a good job I thought."

Speculation continues to intensify that Kragthorpe will be replaced at the completion of the season. There's been no official word from UofL officials on the matter, which has led to widespread speculation that a coaching change is all but assured.

"I just come to work every day," Kragthorpe said. "I'm going to come to work every day until they tell me not to. I'm going to keep working hard every day, coach the players that are healthy and can play and get them ready to play and see if we can go win."

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