Pitt Ready For Louisville

Louisville usually gets accolades for its high-powered offense led by Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Brian Brohm, but Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt warned the Panthers not to overlook the defense when the two meet Saturday at noon at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky.

"They have a very good defense, and they like to give you a lot of different looks,'' Wannstedt said. "We'll have our work cut out for us on both sides of the ball against Louisville this week.''

Pittsburgh quarterback Pat Bostick has watched extensive film on the Cardinals, and he assessed their defensive efforts.

"They've tried a lot of different things with a lot of different personnel, and they go with a lot of different coverages,'' Bostick said. "Their defensive coordinator, Cassidy, he's done a lot of different things in the past when you look back at their defense. But they feel comfortable with eight guys in the box to stop the run, so we'll have to deal with that. And we'll have to be able to move them off the line to be successful.

"Also, No. 14 is a good, solid corner. He's played for a couple years, and No. 19 is a new guy. But they're both athletic on the outside, and they have a lot of skill overall on defense. I think their defense is a little underrated because they've had some losses this year, and they take a lot of heat because their offense is so good. But I think they have a talented defense, and we're going to have our hands full.''

Junior middle linebacker Lamar Myles leads Louisville (4-4 overall, 1-2 in the Big East) with 85 total tackles, including 59 solo and two sacks. Junior defensive tackle Earl Heyman has four sacks and two forced fumbles. The cornerbacks Bostick mentioned are junior Rod Council (two interceptions) and redshirt freshman Johnny Patrick (one).

Offensively, Pitt (3-4, 1-1) has to deal with Brohm, who Wannstedt believed was the best NFL prospect at quarterback last year, but the Panthers also noted that Louisville's running game wasn't to be overlooked, either.

"Their offense is typically a passing team,'' junior middle linebacker Scott McKillop said, "but they have good runners that can hit the holes real quick. So, we just can't concentrate on their passing game. If we do that they'll be able to run on us, so we want to stop the run and eliminate the pass.''

The Cardinals have four backs that handle the ground game with sophomore Anthony Allen leading the way with 631 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. Junior Brock Bolen, the starting fullback and backup tailback, has 259 yards and three scores. Also, junior George Stripling has 171 yards and one score, while junior Sergio Spencer has two touchdowns on just 11 attempts.

Brohm has been nothing less than spectacular this season. He has completed 68 percent of his passes for nearly 3,000 yards and 24 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Brohm has passed to 14 different receivers.

"You can't blitz Brohm or he'll kill you,'' defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads said. "And their receivers are excellent, so we'll have our work cut out for us. We have to pressure Brohm, and pick our times to blitz, but it would be better if we can do it with our linemen.''

Senior Harry Douglas leads the way with 49 catches for 816 yards and five scores in just six games. And 6-6 senior tight end Gary Barnidge has 39 catches and six scores, while Junior Mario Urrutia has 27 catches and two touchdowns also in just six games.

"It's a big challenge, going against their receivers,'' safety Mike Phillips said. "We're really going to see where our defense is at. We've got to come to play and execute the assignment. I always figured we're a pretty good defense. Some days we don't show it. Every week, we've got a good game plan. It's just a matter of us going out and executing, and we'll be OK.''

Pitt has only Big East games remaining and is still in the running for the top spot in the Conference, but will need to run the table beginning with the Cardinals. The Panthers then face Syracuse at home Nov. 3 at noon, are at Rutgers Nov. 17, home to South Florida Nov. 24 and at West Virginia Dec. 1 on either ESPN or ESPN 2, but times are to be determined.

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