Week 8 College Football Preview: Connecticut vs. Louisville

Connecticut Huskies at Louisville Cardinals
Date – Saturday, October 23, 2010
Location – Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium
Time – 3:30 pm
TV – nationally on ESPNU. Pam Ward (play-by-play), Danny Kannell (color)
Radio – 840 AM WHAS. Paul Rogers (play-by-play), Stefan LeFors (analyst), Doug Ormay (sidelines)

The Louisville Cardinals will wrap up their three game homestand on Saturday with a second consecutive Big East battle, as they host the Huskies of Connecticut.

Louisville is coming off a tough home loss in their Big East opener to Cincinnati, where it seemed the Cards simply couldn’t cover anybody. Louisville gave up three touchdown plays of 30 yards or more, and eliminating those types of coverage breakdowns will be key in stopping the Huskies’ offense.

The all-time series here is tied 3-3, with Connecticut emerging victories for the past three seasons in a row, all in close, down to the wire finishes. That streak was of course entirely under Kragthorpe and begun with the now infamous “fair catch that really wasn’t a fair catch but then it was after the fact” game.

Some big news came out on Wednesday in regards to the Huskies’ starting QB Cody Endres. Endres has been suspended for the remainder of the season for a violation of “university policies”.

While this can’t hurt the Cards’ chances at earning their first Big East victory, it may make it more difficult to prepare for UConn as they now have less time to prepare for either redshirt freshman Michael Box or former starter Zach Frazer. Head Coach Randy Edsall is supposed to address this issue in a Thursday presser.

Endres’ suspension comes a day after news broke that starting offensive guard Erik Kuraczea had withdrawn from the school. The sophomore was suspended with Endres in August, and returned with him in September. He started the last two games at left guard.

Even before the recent shake-ups/departures, Louisville’s main focus was likely on stopping Junior tailback Jordan Todman. Todman is third in the nation and leads the Big East in rushing YPG with 152.2, just ahead of Cardinal beast Bilal Powell’s 149.7 YPG (fourth nationally and second in the Big East). Now stopping Todman will be even more of an emphasis as it will put pressure on Connecticut to move the ball through the air.

Should that happen, freshman CB Senorise Perry, may get tested early and often. Perry is Johnny Patrick’s backup, and there is a fair chance Patrick will be out with a shoulder injury. Whoever is helming the QB spot likely won’t have much time to get rid of the ball. Louisville is averaging 3.17 sacks per game, which is
tied for eighth nationally, led by Rodney Gnat.

This should be a very interesting game to watch, as both teams have been very similar in their makeup, strengths and weaknesses through the first half of the season. Both Louisville and UConn’s defenses have struggled with giving up the big play, particularly through the air. Yet on offense both squads would prefer to hand the ball off to their respective backfield studs.

I would have to think the advantage lies with Louisville here, both as the home team and with a stable offensive line and quarterback situation coming in. The Cardinals are going to have to finish drives however, as last week against Cincy they had four drives stall and settled for field goal attempts, two of which were missed.

When Louisville is on offense, they might want to consider running plays away from wherever Senior linebacker Lawrence Wilson lines up. He was names first-team all Big East last year and is on pace to do even more damage this season. Wilson is 13th in the nation and second in the Big East in tackles with 62 on the year, good for 10.33 a contest. By comparsion, the Cardinals leading tackler, Holton, has just 29 on the season.

The Cards have been close in every game so far this season, but Coach Charlie Strong doesn’t want to hear about moral victories. “You read and hear a lot about guys playing great and having a moral victory. There are no moral victories,” Strong said. “You have to win the football game. That is what is important and guys understand they have a job to do and they are expected to play well. We have to get the standard raised here and that is what we are looking to do. The only way to get the standard raised is to win football games.”

I believe the Cards will get it done on Saturday and gain some much needed momentum heading into a tough road game at Pittsburgh the following week.


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