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Football Preview Weekish: Louisville

As part of TheUConnBlog’s 2009 football Season Preview Week, we’re rolling out the position primers and opponent capsules. Today, we look at the Huskies’ sixth opponent: the Louisville Cardinals.

A brief history of Louisville football in pictures and quotes)

(2007-present)

I. Denial

Syracuse 38, Louisville 35

Syracuse 38, Louisville 35

"Two losses is not the end of the season, but at the same time, I can't be sitting up here every week talking about how many mistakes we made," Cardinals center Eric Wood said. "There is no way we should be sitting here at 2-2. Absolutely no way."

--Louisville center Eric Wood, September 22, 2007

II. Anger

UConn 21, Louisville 17

UConn 21, Louisville 17

"That wasn't no fair catch, that was a fair play out there," Taylor said. "The referee didn't call anything, he said it was a fair play. I felt I didn't fair catch it anyway."

--UConn wide receiver Larry Taylor, October 18, 2007

III. Bargaining

Louisville 41, Rutgers 38

Louisville 41, Rutgers 38

"I couldn’t ask for a better ending. One of my goals when I came here was kicking a game-winning field goal. I had to come down to the last quarter, the last play."

--Louisville senior kicker Art Carmody, November 29, 2007

IV. Depression

Rutgers 63, Louisville 14

Rutgers 63, Louisville 14

"Have you ever in your life seen something that appeared so sturdy wholly collapse this quickly?

My word."

--Card Chronicle’s Mike Rutherford, December 5, 2008

V. Acceptance

So sorry for your losses.

So sorry for your losses.

"When I said we’d spend the next two years rebuilding, there was a lot of flack that came with it. Nobody wants to hear that. [But] it’s a long haul and I knew that and I buckled up for it."

--Louisville AD Tom Jurich, November 2008

Opponent: Louisville

Date/site of game: October 17, Rentschler Field (homecoming)

Time/TV of game: Noon, Big East Game of the Week (check local listings)

Coach: Steve Kragthorpe (3rd year, 11-13)

Team site: http://www.uoflsports.com/sports/m-footbl/lou-m-footbl-body.html

Fan forum: Red Rage Pigskin

2008 record: 5-7 (1-6 Big East, tied for seventh)

Notable wins: 24-20 vs. South Florida (Oct. 25)

Notable losses: 27-2 vs. Kentucky (Aug. 31), 41-7 at Pittsburgh (Nov. 8), 63-14 at Rutgers (Dec. 4)

All-time series: 3-2, Louisville

Last game in series: UConn 26, Louisville 21 (Sept. 26, 2008 at Louisville)

Returning starters (offense): 7

Key players (offense): RB Victor Anderson (183 rush, 1047 yds, 8 TD); WR Doug Beaumont (62 rec, 750 yds); WR Josh Chichester (30 rec, 341 yds, 2 TD)

Returning starters (defense): 6

Key players (defense): LB Jon Dempsey (80 tkl, 7 for loss); SS Daniel Covington (66 tkl)

2009 outlook in 50 words or less: Everything seems to be spiraling down at UofL. Kragthorpe is rather disliked among Card faithful, having blown the last two years with NFL-caliber quarterbacks Brian Brohm and Hunter Cantwell. It could get ugly quickly if the Cards are under .500 by the time they play the Huskies.

The Huskies win if: LAR-RY TAY-LOR CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. (Just kidding, Louisvillians.)

The Boneyard melts down if: Victor Anderson hits L1, R1, triangle and L1 in order, rendering the UConn defense completely [EDIT: was I going for completely unable to think of a way to finish that sentence? Maybe I was.]

Bottom line: Want to go bowling? Very simply, this is a must-have for UConn. At home, against one of the teams actually expected to finish below the Huskies? Yeah.

Louisville has some definite offensive weapons – Anderson got my vote for first-team All-Big East at running back, and the receiving unit might be in the top 3 in the league. Complicating things is the quarterback situation, where for the first time in years the Cardinals are inexperienced. Justin Burke, the 2005 Kentucky HS Player of the Year and a transfer from NC State, appears to have earned the job.

The defense appears to still be shambolic. The numbers improved in 2008 from 2007 (369 from 416 yards against, 29.8 from 31.4 points against), but that doesn’t make them good numbers. Louisville didn’t record any sacks over the final five games of the season and their season total of 14 was the worst in the Big East.

All things considered, right now I’d have to put this down as a UConn win; as always, only one team in the Big East is so bad that the mere thought of losing to them repulses me; Louisville is not that team. On the plus side, if Louisville only has one or two wins heading into Oct. 17 – a real possibility with Kentucky, Utah, Pitt and Southern Miss among the first five games – Louisville fans might be rooting for the Huskies, too.