FIVE MORE: Louisville - Part II

BF.C RECENTLY CAUGHT up with the Courier-Journal's Tom Heiser and asked him five questions about the Louisville Cardinals. What we've learned is that U of L has a formidable one-two punch in the backfield -- plus a defense that is vastly improved from a year ago. Plus, Hesier makes a prediction...but is it one that will Beavers fans smiling or frowning?

NOTE: Head on over to The Courier-Journal for Dan Norz's discussion with Tom Hesier.

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Name four players to watch - two on defense and two on offense - and why they are ones Oregon State fans should keep their eyes on.

Running backs Bilal Powell (pictured left) and Victor Anderson have provided Louisville's punch.

A leaner, stronger Powell has rushed for 245 yards in Louisville's first two games; and Anderson, a 1,000-yard rusher in his freshman year, looks to have bounced back from an injury-plagued sophomore season to provide punch in the backfield and on special teams.



Defensive end Rodney Gnat (pictured right) logged four sacks against Eastern Kentucky; Louisville's eight sacks through two games equals their entire 2009 output.

Senior cornerback Johnny Patrick has been the Cards' most dependable performer in the secondary.



What are the strengths of the Louisville offense? What are its weaknesses?

Louisville's 1-2 punch of Powell and Anderson was more than both Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky could handle. They seem to have both benefited from running out of the spread formation.

Weaknesses? How about the receiving corps which has dropped at least nine passes in the first two games. The Cards have been loathsome on third down -- converting just 6 of 25 opportunities.

Ham-handedness from the receivers has been the major reason.



What are the strengths of the Louisville defense? What are its weaknesses?

The Cards planted Eastern Kentucky quarterbacks on the turf eight times. In the second half against Kentucky, Louisville did a good job keeping the Wildcat quarterback from running out of the pocket.

The overall youth of the linebacking corps and secondary has made the defense susceptible to big plays. Kentucky averaged nearly 11 yards per play in the first half of the opening game.

Defenders have been caught out of position numberless times the first two games.



Coming into this game where would you rank your team on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the team playing at peak performance) and why?

I'd have to give the team a 6 after a gritty, yet dispiriting loss to Kentucky and a somnolent, sloppy outing against FCS foe Eastern Kentucky.

Charlie Strong is rebuilding with a roster barren of speed and skilled playmakers. The Steve Kragthorpe era was marked by defections from and dismissals of Bobby Petrino's recruits, and the need to dip into the junior college ranks to try and fill the shortfall in quality recruits.

The defense has been solid through two games, but the offense hasn't adapted well to the spread concept.



A prediction.

I was in the crowd in 2005 when Louisville unlimbered the guns in a 63-27 blasting of the Beavers. One memory I have is how impressed I was by the number of fans in Orange and Black that made the trek east to witness the slaughter.

I don't know how many Cardinal fans are planning to Lewis & Clark-it on Saturday, but it might be payback time.

I watched the TCU game and thought that the Beavers could have won that. There is just too much speed and playmaking on the offensive side of the ball for the Cardinal defense to contain and the Cardinal offense to match.

Beavers 49, Cards 21.



A big thanks to Tom Heiser for taking the time out of his busy day to answer the questions.  Please head over to The Courier-Journal to browse his blog covering Louisville athletics.

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