ON THE BEAT: Louisville

Cardinal Authority beat writer Jody Demling spoke with Pack Pride about the Wolfpack's next opponent, Louisville. Demling talked about the team's strengths, weaknesses, and much more in this exclusive interview.

Cardinal Authority beat writer Jody Demling spoke with Pack Pride about the Wolfpack's next opponent, Louisville. Demling talked about the team's strengths, weaknesses, and much more in this exclusive interview.


Will Gardner has been named the starter at quarterback. What did he do to get the job back and how does the offense operate with him under center?
Gardner was clearly the No. 1 starter in the spring and played well - except in the loss to Virginia - to open the season. He came in last week in the second half and continued to show improvement.

The offense moved a little more with him in the game and he's a better passer right now than Reggie Bonnafon. While Bonnafon gives Louisville a threat to make plays with his feet, the offense seems better right now and more relaxed with Gardner running the show.

Talk about the rotation Louisville has at running back. It seems like a committee approach. Have they been pleased with the ground game?
It's been four guys all season with Dominique Brown being the main man early on - 33 carries against Miami.

Brandon Radcliff is a hard-nosed, tough runner and had 100-yard games against Wake Forest and Syracuse and it was back to Brown last week. Former BCS title game MVP Michael Dyer - a transfer from Auburn - has yet to get going, while freshman L.J. Scott is a solid option as well.

Petrino really does go with the hot hand... the guy who is getting yards will get carries.

The offensive line is often a strength for Louisville. Has that been the case? Where are they health-wise?
The line has been a strength in the past but has been a weakness this season.

Jake Smith, Jamon Brown and John Miller returned with more than 50 starts on the line combined but there's no depth. Tobijah Hughley is a former walk-on starting at center and Ryan Mack has been the fifth guy but has been prone to giving up sacks and having penalties.

The line took a step in the right direction last week against Clemson, but it's been a rough year for those guys.

Break down the skill positions...wide receiver and tight end.
The Cardinals have some weapons.

Gerald Christian hasn't been getting a ton of action at tight end, but he's a big, strong, physical type. Freshman Charles Standberry has made some big catches from the tight end spot also.

James Quick and Eli Rogers have been the playmakers on offense from the wideout spot. Quick is the highest-rated recruit in school history, while Rogers is a former teammates of Teddy Bridgewater.

The Cardinals have other weapons at wide receiver, and they like to use them. Matt Milton, Kai De La Cruz, and Michalee Harris could all get catches.

Senior DeVante Parker is thought to be one of the best wide receivers in the ACC. He didn't play against Clemson and has yet to play this year. Do you think he plays this weekend and if so will he be on a snap count?
I think he will see the field but it will be limited snaps, in my opinion.

He's close to being ready and they want him to play but with a bye week coming up they won't overuse him the first week back.

Louisville's defense has been regarded as one of the strongest in the ACC and it seems to start with their front. Do they blitz a lot or try to get pressure with four?
They switched this season to a 3-4 defense under Todd Grantham, who came from Georgia. He's bringing all kinds of pressure and running different guys at the quarterback from all sorts of angles.

Last week, Charles Gaines a cornerback, almost had a sack on one play, and the next play safety Gerod Holliman was at the quarterback. The linebackers are really good and the down linemen are a lot better than anticipated.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the defense?
They haven't allowed an offensive touchdown in 17 quarters and there are not a ton of weaknesses.

There's still not a ton of depth at cornerback and teams are finding ways to get them in bad matchups when the wrong people are on the field.

Linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin, who switched from defensive end last season, is a major strength. He's the leader and gets this defense going. They have a bunch of linebackers who run around the field and make plays.

Thoughts on special teams?
They have struggled.

John Wallace missed two field goals against Wake Forest, they have had a couple of kickoffs out of bounds, fumbled a few punt returns and just haven't been all that sharp on special teams this season.

How do you believe Louisville is approaching this game strategically on both sides of the ball?
They won't change a lot of what they have been doing.

They will come after NC State on defense and the offense is going to try to be 50-50 with the hot hand getting the ball. Petrino won't change a lot.

Finally, how do you see this game playing out?
I think the home crowd will play a factor into this because Louisville always plays better at home. I do think Will Gardner makes them a better offense, and I think the defense defense is still trying to prove people wrong in that they are pretty darn good.

I think it's Louisville winning, 28-10.

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