Rutgers Looks to go Eight Up

A Thursday night game means that Rutgers players must begin its practice week early. The Scarlet Knights (7-4, 3-3) practiced on a Sunday night in their own stadium as they began preparation for a 5-6 (2-3, Big East) Louisville team that is looking to avenge its 28-25 loss from last season.

Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel enjoyed the days off over the Thanksgiving holiday to heal up his injured right thumb.

"It was nice to get away for a day or two and clear your mind," Teel said. "Of course physically, when you get time off it helps."

The Scarlet Knights will need to have all of their offensive players healthy to match the explosive scoring ability of Louisville.

"We have had mixed results against this crew," Coach Schiano said, referring to the 2005 drubbing at Louisville in 2005 and the Pandemonium in Piscataway outcome last year. "The quarterback (Louisville's Brian Brohm) is the same. He is the common denominator. He is a tremendous football player. The best in the land and we have to find a way to try and contain him."

Brohm is completing 66 percent of his passes this season and has thrown for 29 touchdowns compared to only 12 interceptions. Brohm has been the single positive constant for a team that has underperformed in the 2007 season.

Brohm is a very smart quarterback who can take advantage of a defense's weakness. "He goes through his reads great," RU linebacker Brandon Renkart said. "He looks his receiver and he goes through bang, bang, bang. He knows what coverage it is and everything. He is a well-seasoned quarterback." As evidenced by his rapid-fire progressions Brohm is most certainly NFL-ready right now.

The Cardinals defense has played poorly this season giving up 31 points per game, which ranks them seventh in the Big East. In Louisville's six losses this year, the Cardinals have given up 38 or more points in five of those games. The Cards have been hard pressed to play solid defensively even in some of their wins. An early season contest versus Middle Tennessee State saw the Cards - then ranked #8 in the country - give up 42 points to the Blue Raiders. Last week, South Florida beat the Cards 55-17, though the contest was played in Tampa.

Defensive pressure from Rutgers will be a key in getting the Scarlet Knights victory number 8. Brohm has a 23-9 record as a starter and in those 32 games he has thrown for 300 yards 18 times. However, in last year's game, the Scarlet Knights were able to turn the tables in one of the most impressive defensive second half displays in recent memory, sacking Brohm five times and holding Louisville's vaunted passing attack to only 163 yards.

"We gave him some different looks and we will try to give him some more," Coach Schiano said. "This is a guy that lives in the film room. He is as prepared a quarterback as there is in the country."

It will be tough for the Cardinals to gain a bowl bid even if they beat Rutgers on Thursday. There are more bowl-eligible teams than open bowl bids. Instead of worrying about the postseason, Louisville will try and send its seniors out with a win. Teel understands that mentality and knows that this game will be tough no matter what is on the line.

"You are with these guys so much," Teel said. "I am with this football team more than anybody I know. This is my family and these are the guys I wake up with at 4:30 in the morning and go work out in a bubble in the wintertime. You do everything together and when you think about how long some of these guys have been here, you want to go out and you want to play your best for them."

Clearly, Louisville did not have the season that everyone expected them to have, as the Cardinals were a preseason favorite, ranked as high as #8 at one point, and expected to win the Big East according to many experts. The difference between last year and this season is the lack of defense, although the offense remains good enough to win any single game.

"They have given up more big plays on defense, but they keep making them on offense," Coach Schiano said. "We have a big play tape and it took forever to watch."

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