blog

FB: Cards Home For NC State; Focus Has Been on Defense



Cards Focus on Defense
Seven games into the 2014 season, the conversation surrounding the University of Louisville football is slightly different from what most may have expected. With offensive-minded head coach Bobby Petrino returning to the helm of the program, the consensus was that the Cardinals would be a team loaded with offensive firepower, lighting up the scoreboard at a rapid clip and filling box scores with eye-popping numbers.

Instead, the conversation has revolved around the Cards' dominant defense. Each week, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's unit is giving more validity to the argument that the 2014 edition of the Cardinals defense might be the best in program history. With a record of 5-2, the Cards are first in the nation in total defense, allowing opponents an average on 230.7 yards of offense per game, and in rushing defense, yielding opponents an average of 60.3 yards on the ground each time out. Against the pass, the pass, the Cardinals are second in the nation in pass efficiency defense, first in passes intercepted (14), and eleventh in pass defense.

 In full preparation mode for their upcoming meeting with N.C. State this weekend, a few Cardinals took time after Wednesday afternoon's practice to speak with the media. Grantham, along with defensive backs Charles Gaines and Jermaine Reve chatted about their performance thus far and a host of other topics.

With so much talk about the dominance the defensive unit has displayed throughout the first half of the season, it would be easy for Grantham and his players to get complacent. According to the man himself, though, that has not been the case.

"We've got room to improve. We've got a lot of ball games left," Grantham said.

 "The thing of it is, we've got to take each week because each week's a new challenge. Each week's a new week from the standpoint of the team you're playing is a little different in what they do. So you've got to understand the nuances of that offense and how you've got to stop them. We just have to take it week by week and work to play our best every Saturday"

 According to senior defensive end/outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin, the team has not only continued to work, but has stayed on an upward trajectory.

 "I feel like we get better each week," Mauldin said Wednesday. "We face different teams that run different things, so we just adjust to what they give us. Being able to go out on the field and excel even more than we did in practice, I feel that we get way better."

 As far as rankings, Grantham is simply concerned with what his team does on the field weekly, and this week, the Cardinals face an N.C. State team with an offense that has 40 points four times in thus far in 2014.

 "Honestly, I just want to win another game," Grantham said. "We have a conference game at home. It's really about wins and we want to make sure that we can do our part and play to our potential and help our team win. That's been our focus, executing the game plan to win the game."


Gaines in Shutdown Mode

His statistics may be a bit misleading, but junior defensive back Charles Gaines has been the definition of a shutdown cornerback this season.

 Through seven games, the third-year man out of Miami, Fla. has totaled just ten tackles. For those watching, though, this is not due to a lack of aggressiveness on the part of Gaines. Instead, it can be attributed to the fear he's placed into the minds of opposing quarterbacks, who haven't dared to throw the ball in his direction.

 "No. I just stay humble. I do my job," Gaines said Wednesday, when asked if it's frustrating not having the ball thrown to his man. "If a team is not looking to throw at me, that means the other players can make plays."

 Gaines looks at the job he's done blanketing receivers as freeing factor for others on the unit. In no small part, Gaines' lockdown job has helped the Cards grab a nation-leading 14 interceptions, and 24 sacks, the third-highest total in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

 "It's a blessing that I have an opportunity to shut down one side of the field. It gives our safeties, our linebackers, and most of all our D-line an opportunity to make plays and get to the quarterback."

 When he has been thrown at, though, Gaines has quickly reinforced the poor quality of that decision. After leading the team in interceptions last season five, Gaines has snagged one pick this season (in the team's 66-21 win over Murray State), and has been credited for seven passes defensed.

 

Reve Back for Defense
The Louisville defense received great news before last week's trip to Clemson, when it was informed that junior defensive back Jermaine Reve would be available for action. In his first action since rehabbing a torn ACL, Reve provided the Cardinals defense with a big boost in the 23-17 loss to the Tigers, totaling five tackles, two tackles for a loss, and a sack.


"It's exciting just to be back out there with my brothers," Reve said. "It's just a blessing to be back. When you go through all the hard work to be back out there. When your teammates are playing well, you want to get out there and join them, just contribute to the team. I'm excited to be back."

 Since his redshirt freshman season in 2012, Reve has been a steady contributor for the Cards. As a redshirt freshman, the Miami, Fla. native totaled 32 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and a sack for the 11-2 Allsate Sugar Bowl champions. Last season, Reve started five games, and notched a season-high four tackles in a win over Connecticut.

 "We didn't have him because he got hurt early in the spring, but it's a great example of a guy very determined about getting back on the field," defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said.

 "He did everything from a rehab standpoint to be ready early. He was always in the meetings studying, so he knew our system, he knew what to do. He was a big part of us being able to make the switch with putting (defensive back, Terell) Floyd back outside. You can credit him with helping us play well last week."

 While the production he's provided since his return has been apparent, fellow defensive back Charles Gaines has pointed to Reve's leadership as a major help.

 "Reve, he's a communicator. He likes to read body language," Gaines said of his teammate. "So if I come out there and have a sluggish practice, he's going to let me know about myself. I feel like he's a big brother to the defense. He's going to keep me hungry. When I see his energy and I see him trying to make a play, it just makes me want to make more plays."

FB: Reve Returns to Lineup; Cards Hold Top Spot



Jermaine Reve Returns to Action
Junior safety Jermaine Reve returned to the field this past Saturday after sitting out the first six games of the season due to injury. Reve, who tore his ACL this past winter, returned after six months of rehab and recover

"He is even ahead of schedule from what we thought," head coach Bobby Petrino said. "All through the rehab Kyle kept telling me Jermaine is working so hard, doing so well and we might have him this year for the second half of the season. We check in on him a couple weeks later and he said that he has progressed and he is actually further ahead than he was."

Reve came back with a bang against Clemson, recording five solo tackles. Two of his tackles were for a loss, one of which was a sack. He added to a Louisville defense that is currently No. 1 in the nation.

"His attitude and work ethic are the reasons he is back at this time, he is ahead of where we thought he would be," Petrino explained.

Last season, Reve played in all 13 games, recording a total of 23 tackles including 2.5 tackles for loss.

 
Cardinals Continue Season with Two Quarterback
Redshirt sophomore Will Gardner and freshman Reggie Bonnafon have both started games this season and at the moment will both continue to play for the remainder of the season.

Both quarterbacks saw playing time during the Clemson game this past weekend. Bonnafon, who started the game, went 5-13, while Gardner finished out the game, going 10-16 and tossing one touchdown.

"(Clemson) did some really good things as far as stopping our run, with their line movements and jamming the inside, gave Reggie some good looks in the option game that he had done a great job of against Syracuse," head coach Bobby Petrino said. "They kind of took it away with the things they did. When they do that, you've got to be able to throw the ball. That was one of the reasons we made the change."

Petrino explained that he made sure to discuss the switch with his offensive coaching staff during the game.

"We talked about it at halftime and we felt that coming out of halftime that we should get (Bonnafon) moving around, run some of our play-action, some of our movement game and let him run the ball a little bit," he said. "Sometimes with a quarterback that has great instincts to run the ball, once you get his blood flowing and he runs and makes some plays running then that helps him in the passing game."

Petrino has not yet announced who will start on Saturday against NC State, but he has confidence in whoever is on the field.

 
Cards' Defense Best in the Nation

The University of Louisville defense, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the country, has not allowed an opponent to score an offensive touchdown over the past 17 quarters. The Cards' defense has recorded 24.0 sacks for 196 yards lost and 14 interceptions for 153 yards and a touchdown.

"We put in hard work and sacrifices on the off season to get to where we're at," sophomore linebacker Keith Kelsey said. We believe in what coach (Todd) Grantham installed in us, and we just want to execute it."

Grantham, who came to Louisville after working for four years as Georgia's defensive coordinator, has a large influence on both how the defense plays and thinks about the game.

"No one really expected us to be where we are right now, so it really just gave us more motivation to go out there and prove a lot of people wrong," Kelsey said. "We're just surprising a lot of people and there's still a lot of work to be done."

Despite the No.1 ranking and the fact that they haven't given up a touchdown since the loss at Virginia, the defensive players are staying humble.

"We don't really pay attention to [the touchdown drought]," he explained. "Coach Grantham might mention it to us after a game or something. Right now I think it's 17 quarters, and we're just trying to keep that streak alive and just play hard."  

 
Penalties Plaguing Louisville Offense

The Cardinals' offense was penalized multiple times for false starts in the loss at Clemson. A major factor in that was the crowd noise, however it is something that Louisville must adjust to as a new member of the ACC.

 It was a loud place but again it comes down to everybody else plays in the loud stadiums," coach Petrino explained. "We have to focus and concentrate and be able to not have the same person continually get us those penalties."

 Quarterback Will Gardner also weighed in on the conversation of the multiple offensive penalties.

 "I know a lot of it had to do with me coming in, and he was doing things different with the cadence, so I had to come over and we had to get that thing situated," he said. "A lot of that had to do with the quarterback's fault, so I'll take blame for that in there at the end."

 Gardner also understands that large crowds will be a norm in the Cardinals' upcoming games.

 "Each and every game is going to count right here," he said. "We go to Notre Dame and different places, we're going to get a chance to play in big crowds and play in front of big atmospheres and different things like that. So I think guys are excited about that."


Gaines Major Focus for Opposing Offenses
Redshirt junior cornerback Charles Gaines is a major defensive threat for the Cardinals, something Louisville's opponents have noticed since last season. In 2013, Gaines led the team with five interceptions and 106 return yards. This year, Gaines only has one interception.

 "(Gaines) does a really nice job in the tight coverage, and the best thing about when he has tight coverage is that pass rush doesn't give him a lot of time to get the ball on that side," Petrino explained. "He has done a great job, he is a good player and he almost had a nice pick the other night, a couple of them. So he is right there and he has great hands."

 Coach Petrino made the observation that Gaines hasn't recorded as many interceptions because opposing quarterbacks haven't thrown the ball in his direction.

 "The more he can get his hands on the ball, the more picks he is going to get," Petrino said.

 

FB: Cardinals Travel to Clemson to Face High-Powered Offense


The University of Louisville football team is in the midst of preparing for what will be their stiffest test of the season, as the team will travel to Death Valley to take on No. 25 Clemson at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

The trip to Clemson will mark the Cardinals' second-consecutive road game, and their fourth in five weeks. The Cardinals traveled to Syracuse last Friday to claim a 28-6 win over the Orange and improve their record to 5-1 (3-1 ACC). Before the knocking of Syracuse in the dome, the Cards notched a victory over Wake Forest at home after splitting contests at Virginia and FIU.

 Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and senior outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin took time after Wednesday evening's practice to speak with the media about the challenge of hitting the road once again, the task of facing one of the nation's hottest dual-threat quarterbacks, and their ranking as the nation's best defense.

---

Memorial Stadium, otherwise affectionately know as "Death Valley" by Tiger fans, has been one of the nation's most feared stadiums for some time. The Cardinals will make their first trip to the venue as a conference foe for the team on Saturday afternoon.

 When speaking with the media Wednesday evening, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin shared the sentiment that the famous stadium epitomizes college football, and that the looming trip has been a point of excitement for the players.

 We relish in the road games. We love crowds like that," Mauldin stated. "This is what we come to college to play football for, for crowds like Clemson. We got a bit of a taste of it last week."

 Having coached in the stadium before, Grantham was able to offer uniquely informed insight. While holding the defensive coordinator capacity at Georgia, Grantham's Bulldogs dropped a close 38-35 decision at Clemson to kickoff the season last year.

 "It's a great place. I think their fans are very passionate about their football," Grantham said.

 "They're loud, they're very supportive of their team. It's why you come to college, it's why you play. It's our chance to be in front of a very vocal, hostile crowd. I think it's fun. It's why you work. It's why you prepare. They've certainly done a great job of representing their school and what they do. It gives us a chance to go play in that type of environment."

 For Grantham, per the usual, success on Saturday comes down to execution, whether on the road or at home.

 "First of all, you've got to go play the game. The game is played between the white lines, and we understand that. That's what really affects the game. The atmosphere creates an excitement in pre-game, but at the end of the day, the players are what affect the game." 

---

 For the second-straight week, the Cardinals will be facing a quarterback who not only has shown the ability to light it up through the air, but make plays on the ground as well. Since being inserted as the starter against Florida State on Sept. 20, Clemson freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson has been nothing short of explosive. The Gainesville, Ga.-native has, in just three full games, 1,181 yards passing, with 12 touchdown passes and a 68.9 completion percentage. In the Tigers' 41-0 rout of North Carolina State last week, Watson showed his mobility by rushing for 62 yards and a pair of scores.

When asked about the instant success Watson has had, Grantham had high praise. Having formerly held the defensive coordinator position at the University of Georgia before coming to Louisville, Grantham is very familiar with Watson, a player whom the Bulldogs recruited heavily.

  "I do know Watson a little, being from the state of Georgia. I think he's an awesome young man. He's got all the characteristics that you look for in a quarterback. The intangible things, obviously I know about him. I've got a lot of respect for him," Grantham said.

 
"I think Watson's done a great job with their offense," he continued. "When you look at their offensive staff, they know what he does well and they're doing those things. He's getting the ball to playmakers."

 The Cardinals are fortunate to have already been exposed to quarterbacks similar to Watson. Just last week, the unit faced Syracuse's Terrell Hunt, who has rushed for 307 yards and five scores already this season. Additionally, the Cardinals have worked against their own dual-threat quarterback, freshman Reggie Bonnafon, in practice throughout the season; a fact that has allowed the defense a basis for comparison.

 "I think on the field they're pretty similar from the standpoint of they both have very good arms and can throw the ball down the field, they can throw the deep ball," Grantham said of Bonnafon and Watson.

 "They can both make a play with their feet, and make a bad play into a positive play, which is something that creates issues for defenses."

---

After back-to-back displays of smothering defense in wins over Wake Forest and Syracuse, the Louisville defense has returned to the top of nation's total defense ranking. Allowing opponents just 230.2 yards per game, the Cardinals are yielding opponents just 3.75 yards per play.

 As a junior on last year's squad, Lorenzo Mauldin totaled 9.5 sacks and 12.0 tackles for loss, helping the Cardinals earn the title of the nation's best defense in 2013.

 Returning to the top, Mauldin said, is a point of pride.

The University of Louisville football team hit the practice field on Wednesday afternoon, continuing their preparation for their impending home meeting with ACC foe Wake Forest on Saturday. The game will mark the first home game for the Cardinals since their 66-21 win over Murray State three weeks ago, on Sept. 6. 

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and senior defensive back Terell Floyd spoke with the media after practice, previewing Wake Forest, and taking the time to answer questions about the team's preparation and a handful of other topics.

 

---

Wake Forest will mark the Cardinals' third ACC game of the season. The Cardinals opened with a 31-13 victory over Miami on Sept. 1, and dropped a 23-21 decision to Virginia two weeks ago. As does every opponent on the schedule, the Demon Deacons (2-2 overall; 0-0 ACC) will pose a new task for the Louisville defense- namely a fast-paced offense that features a dual-threat quarterback, something the Cards have yet to see.

  "Like with most college teams, they're a tempo team," Grantham said of Wake's offense. "With the read zone stuff, you've got a quarterback who can run it a well as hand it off, so you've got to be disciplined there."   For third time this season, the Cardinals will face a true freshman quarterback, in the Deacons' Wolford. Wolford has both struggled and excelled in spots this season, passing for 883 yard and six scores through four games, but also tossing seven interceptions.

 

Preparing for a quarterback with only four games of film creates a limited sample size for opposing defenses. But it's a challenge that Grantham says the team has adjusted to through the early part of the season.

 "You don't have as much tape to watch guys and that kind of thing," Grantham said of facing a newcomer. "And generally speaking, those guys are really trying to build as the season goes with what they're doing so you always see things added each week, whereas a guy who's a little bit older, you can go back on some tape and see things."

 For Grantham, though, the success or failure of the Cardinals in this familiar situation rides on the team's execution.

 "So again, really, it kind of goes back to us and how we play and what we do. That needs to be the focus- us doing our job and taking care of our business."

---

Grantham also took time to talk about two Cardinals who have helped the defense thrive through the first four games: defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin and safety Gerod Holliman.

 In his first year in Grantham's 3-4 defense, Mauldin has transitioned seamlessly from his traditional role as a pass-rusher to his new duty as an outside linebacker. Through four games, Mauldin has collected 18 tackles, the team's second-highest total. The senior wrecked havoc in last weekend's 34-3 victory at Florida International, making a season-high three tackles for loss.

 Grantham attributed Mauldin's early-season success to his physical ability, and also noted that Lozo's impact has stretched far beyond the stat-sheet.

 "I think first of all, he's made the play [as] outside linebacker in our system. When you look at a guy with his length, his burst off the ball, his athletic ability, he can do a lot of things. Not only rush, but he can drop. He can also attract blockers to free other people up," Grantham said.

 "In the game Saturday, he didn't necessarily have a sack but he (caused) two penalties that really were negative 10 yards (that) if they hadn't held him, he would've gotten the sack. And he really forced a couple other guys to get sacks, so he's affected the game. When you've got a guy like that, people are always going to try to find ways to take him out of the game."

 As for Holliman, who currently holds a nation-leading five interceptions on the season, Grantham had much praise, especially for his ability to do everything required of a complete safety.

 "He does a good job of route reading, anticipating plays on the routes. He can make plays on the ball. You know, being a safety, you've got to be able to tackle. He's done a good job of tackling. And he's a physical player. Sometimes on his route reads, he may not have been able to get there to make the pick, but he slides the ball from the receiver and forces it to be an incomplete pass or a fumble."

 With back-to-back games with two interceptions, it's apparent that Holliman is a natural playmaker- a rare attribute that Grantham says he won't detract from. Luckily for the Cards, Holliman will continue to have the green light to go get the football.

 "I don't like to coach robots at any position. It's kind of like parenting. You've kind of got to give them the boundaries, but then they've got to make the decision," Grantham said.

 "My coaching philosophy has always been to try to give guys the freedom to make the plays within the framework of the defense, understand the boundaries, and as long as guys continue to make good choices, then you continue with those guidelines."

---

Alongside Holliman, Terell Floyd and the team's stable of defensive backs have helped the Cardinals once again establish themselves as one of the nation's stingiest defenses. The duo, along with cornerbacks Charles Gaines and Andrew Johnson and safety James Sample, have led a Louisville secondary that has allowed opponents to pass for just 178.2 yards per game and has snagged seven interceptions.

 "I'm not surprised at all at how well we're playing," Floyd said Wednesday. "I expected this because we've got a lot of talented guys in the secondary, so I feel like I expected us to play this well right now."

 Floyd did mention, though, that he believes the defensive backfield is still in need of some improvement.

 "I also think we need improvement to get better," Floyd added, before listing a few areas in which the group could afford growth. "Technique. Film study. Just little things that we do."

 Picking off the opposing quarterback at least once in every game, the Cardinal secondary has produced an output that any coach or fan would be pleased with through the early stretch. Floyd & Co. will have their next go on Saturday in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.

Sophomore wide receiver James Quick has been inserted into the role of punt returner, and it has been well received. Quick has totaled 98 yards in the last two games, picking up 67 yards in the win over FIU last Saturday.

"At first, I was a little nervous returning punts," Quick said. "I never had a chance to return punts in high school. This was my first time returning punts in college. It was a fun experience going and putting the ball in my hands."

 On the offensive side, Quick was just as productive, accounting for 231 all-purpose yards.

 Quick also made the longest play from scrimmage this season when he caught a 74-yard pass from Will Gardner and scored a touchdown to put the Cardinals ahead 21-0. The product of Trinity High totaled 174 yards receiving, which was the most by a Cardinal receiver since Harry Douglas recorded over 200 yards versus Syracuse in 2007.

 "He really made a great play on the ball," head coach Bobby Petrino said. "That's something we've been looking for a working hard at, so it was good to see it show up in the game."

 

 

 Safety Gerod Holliman has been named the ACC Defensive Back of the Week after his performance in Louisville's 34-3 win over FIU last Saturday.

 Making his first collegiate start, Holliman collected two interceptions in the win over FIU, returning one 32 yards in the second quarter to give the Cardinals a 14-0 lead. He would add another interception on the next possession to set up another score.

 A native of Miami, Fla., Holliman leads the nation in interceptions with five this season, which matches Charles Gaines' team-leading total from last season.

 "I think Holliman has done a really nice job of studying, understanding what passing routes we're going to see, having enough confidence when he sees it to not hesitate and go make a play," said Petrino. "I think that's, when you look at some of our things on offense is, sometimes you see it, you don't have enough confidence to go do it. That's what he's doing. He sees it, he's practiced it, now he's got enough confidence that he goes and makes the play."

 

 

Pio Vatuvei has made a quick transition to the Louisville defense. The junior-college transfer has started the last three games and is creating havoc upfront. Vatuvei has six tackles and one sack this year this year, but is taking on blockers to create opportunities for the linebackers. But the amazing thing is, Vatuvei arrived on campus on Aug. 4, but he hasn't missed a beat on one of the nation's top defenses. 

"Just took it day by day. When I was recruited here they told me they wanted me to be a big part of defense. I didn't know which way until I came here so just took it day by day; learned the play book, learned to scheme. Players especially, learned from them as well, so it really was a good transition for me."

 

 

 

 

 

FB: Cards Turn Focus to FIU; Washington Makes Impact

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

The University of Louisville football team wrapped their second practice of the week on Wednesday evening. The Cardinals will looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season, which they suffered at the hands of new ACC foe Virginia by a score of 23-21. The Cards will try to avenge that loss when they travel to Miami to take on Florida International.

Looking to move forward, much of the discussion this week for the Cardinals' coaching staff has been about the impending meeting with the Panthers. At his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon, head coach Bobby Petrino talked about the opportunity ahead.

"A lot of guys will go down and get to play in front of their family and friends and fans," Petrino said, making reference to the fact that more than 20 Cardinals are from the state of Florida, 14 of whom from Miami specifically.

"What we have to do is make sure we stay focused. We need to understand much like the Miami game that this is a new season, new team."

 Staying locked in will be key for the team as they take on the Panthers. The Cardinals routed FIU early last season, posting a 72-0 shutout in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. But this is a new edition of the Panthers, a squad that defeated Wagner 34-3 in week two, and one that jumped ahead of Pittsburgh by 16 points last week before a Pitt comeback.

 "We get to watch them on video against Pittsburgh where they played very well. They played tough and made plays offensively, created havoc at times with their defense against Pittsburgh's offense," Petrino said. 

 "I think that will help us get very motivated. But the biggest thing is we have to enjoy the process and enjoy the process of preparing for the game from the meetings tomorrow, to practice tomorrow, and really just focus on that right now. That will help us win the game more than anything."

---

Safeties coach Greg Brown took time to talk to the media on Wednesday evening, specifically to chat about his designated group- a unit that has shined particularly bright through the first three weeks of the season. Despite the solid play of Terell Floyd, Gerod Holliman, and James Sample, Brown insists there is still much work to be done.

"It's only been three weeks, and it's long way to go. Our guys have to continue to improve," Brown said. "You're either getting better or you're getting worse. Our guys have got to continue to get better, they've got to work hard in practice."

Brown was also asked specifically about the play of redshirt sophomore Gerod Holliman. Holliman, a Miami native, had a career game against Virginia, totaling six tackles and grabbing two interceptions.

"He had a good game," Brown said. "He works hard at it. He's an instinctive guy. He sees things, he processes, and he attacks. That's what makes him good."

"He's a guy who has always had some ability, always had talent. But he's worked hard, he's put himself in a position to make plays and it's worked out for our team. We're happy that he's doing so."

 ---

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was insistent Wednesday that he and his team must continue to move forward, and be cognizant of the challenge they have ahead in Florida International. He did however, take time to address the things the he liked about his defensive unit's performance in the Virginia loss.

Grantham stated that what he was most impressed with was his team's ability to continue to make stops, even when defending a short field. Due in part to struggles on special teams and in part to penalties, the average starting field position for Virginia last Saturday was their own 44-yard line, placing the defense's back against the wall throughout the entire afternoon.

Despite the tough position, the Cardinals held the Cavaliers to 6 of 18 on third down and 285 yards of total offense.

"When you play defense, that's part of it, being able to fly around even when you get in adverse situation," Grantham said.

"That's just part of defense, you gotta go play the next play. You've got to go get the ball back. You really just have to buy in. We're one unit, one team. Once you believe that, and you trust that other guys are going to be in the right spot and you can start playing fast, I do think it kind of snowballs a bit. We've got to continue to do that and work."

Looking forward to FIU, though, Grantham was complimentary about what he's seen so far of the Panthers, and adamant that his team will face a stiff challenge this weekend.

"When you look at them, I think they're well-coached," Grantham said. "They know where to throw the ball relative to where you look. They can put it in some good spots. They've got a couple wideouts that can make some plays and they try to find ways to get those guys the ball."

"So I think they've got some good young talent. Like I said, they were up 16-0 on Pitt. They were playing hard. We've got to understand that and be ready to play."

--

One of the unexpected bright spots against Virginia was freshman cornerback Trumaine Washington, who stepped in to provide the Cardinals with four total tackles and a game-swaying sack in the fourth quarter.

"I think he made some plays," Grantham said of Washington. "He's a guy who has shown up in practice, being physical, making plays on the ball. I think that the more playing time he gets that will come out, and we'll see some production there. We're pleased with his progress."

Washington saw got his first taste of action two weeks ago, in the team's 66-21 win over Murray State. The Miami, Fla. native made two tackles against the Racers. 

"It feels great to get my number called," Washington said Wednesday, speaking to the media for the first time.

"Whenever my number gets called, I just feel like I can be the best I can be. It all starts in practice, I go hard in practice. As you can see, the results are in the game. I made a play and helped my team get a big stop."

Being from Florida, Washington is excited for this weekend's game at Florida International, and the opportunity to go back home with big game experience under his belt.

"It feels great, going back home in Miami. My family is coming to see me, friends, and my teammates from high school."

"Even though we're going back home and every body is watching us, it's still a business trip. We're just trying to get one thing done, and that's to get the win." 

FB: Lamb Sees Big Things on His Touchdown Run

Big-screen scoreboards are great for the fans, but who knew the players enjoy looking at them as well.

As junior running back Corvin Lamb of the University of Louisville football team was racing 97 yards on a kickoff return for a touchdown in the win over Miami, he glanced up at the scoreboard to get a glimpse at himself.

"I was running full speed until I looked at myself at the big screen," Lamb said after practice on Thursday. "It was so amazing. I was just so happy to be out there running again with my teammates."

After a 24-yard field goal put Miami ahead 10-7, Lamb took a kickoff at the three-yard line and went untouched for an electrifying return for a touchdown that excited the crowd. It changed the complexion of the game and helped the Cardinals to a 31-13 ACC win in front of a sold-out crowd.

"I knew that we were down and that something needed to be done," Lamb said. "I didn't know I was going to do it right then. I felt it, but it did feel good to do it."

The scary thing for opponents on the rest of the teams on the schedule, Lamb said he never really reached full speed.

"I have been out for a full year so it was exciting to be out there," Lamb said. "I wasn't even running full speed, but I would like to be. I don't think I got touched, I remember just hitting it and running. I was trying to make a play and contribute to the team."

Lamb's road to recovery has been difficult after tearing his ACL early in the season last year, and the road back has been long and winding.

"It was more of a mental struggle seeing my teammates out there having fun," Lamb said. "I was just inside, and I can't go outside because I was doing my rehabilitation.  It was a process. It was a mental process of just getting myself together."

Lamb's long road back came full circle when he was out on the field for the opening kickoff, and he was happy to contribute on special teams.

"I feel like special teams is a huge part of the game and it can change the complexion of the game," Lamb said. "If I have to be on special teams to help my team win, I will do that to help my team win."

FB: Defense pleased with effort, but looks to move on

The University of Louisville football team entered their Monday evening matchup against the University of Miami (Fla.) intent on making an emphatic statement.

  With a dominant 31-13 victory, the Cardinals did just that. And it started with their performance on defense.

 

As a team, the Cardinals held the traditionally potent Hurricane offense to just 244 yards of total offense. Led by a front seven that plugged holes seemingly as soon as they appeared, the Cards stifled Miami to a total of 70 rushing yards, keeping 2013 first team All-ACC running back selection Duke Johnson to 90 rushing yards and, more importantly, out of the end zone.

 

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham noted Wednesday that the performance was a direct result of the team's preparation over the last month.

 

"We did what we had to do," Grantham, speaking to the media for the first time since Monday's win, said.

 

"I thought the guys played with effort and energy. I was pleased with the communication both on the field and on the sidelines. I thought we prepared. You can see the invested time we had going into the scheme and learning the game plan. Credit goes to the players for doing that."

 

When getting into specifics, Grantham praised the play of the defensive line and linebackers- a group that held the Hurricanes to an average of 2.6 yards per rush on Monday night.

 

"I thought the guys played with energy," Grantham said. "They played with pad level. Did a good job with their hands. Controlled the line of scrimmage. They made it hard for them to run the ball."

 

"I was really pleased with their effort, energy, and the way that they played."

 

The group was provided a boost by defensive end-turned-outside linebacker Deiontrez Mount. Mount made eight stops on the night, good for the team's second-highest total. Mount also earned credit for two tackles for loss and a sack in the outstanding season-opening performance.

 

Mount, who converts to a role as an outside linebacker in Grantham's 3-4 defensive scheme, said that his first in-game experience of the new system was even better than he had imagined throughout fall camp.

 

"I love it," Mount said with a grin of his impression of the 3-4 with a game now under his belt. "Me and (fellow outside end-turned-backer) Lorenzo (Mauldin) loved it. We always joke around on the field that we're going to do big things this year, and we definitely did."

 

The 6-foot-5 243-pound senior from Fort Walton Beach, Fla. figures to have plenty more opportunities this season to do just that. Moving into a starting role this year following the departure of first round NFL Draft pick Marcus Smith, Mount brings experience to the table. Despite missing significant time to injury twice in his Louisville career, Mount has made nine starts, and has appeared in 33 contests, tallying more than 50 tackles.

 

As if a new role as a full-time starter were not enough motivation for the performance he gave in the Cardinals' first game as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Mount credits the atmosphere of the stadium for providing him the boost he needed.

 

"I was pumped, man," Mount said of bursting through the tunnel and on to the field for the first time this season, into a horseshoe of a record 55,428 screaming fans clad, like the Cardinals, in all black.

 

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I ran outside. There was black everywhere, I could barely see my own hands. It was just amazing. We need that more often."

 

Though there is plenty to talk about with regard to Mount's showing against Miami, the senior leader insists that his focus is on moving forward. The Cardinals have a short turnaround, as they'll play host to Murray State on Saturday.

 

"It's pretty tough man. Anyone can beat any team. With this quick turnaround anyone can be a good match for you."

 

Mount is quick to credit Murray State and their capabilities on offense, insistent that despite their status as an FCS school, they're a worthy opponent.

 

"You just can't have people pat you back. You just can't listen to that stuff. They play football. They strap on their pads just like we strap on our pads."

 

Kickoff between the Cardinals and Racers is slated for 7 p.m., Saturday Sept. 6, at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

FB: Petrino Updates Media Following Friday's Practice

With the University of Louisville football team's 2014 season-opener against Miami now just a weekend away, head coach Bobby Petrino and his staff are in the process of making final adjustments before the Cardinals take the field on Monday night.

 

With players, coaches, fans, and media eager to get the season rolling, Petrino spent time talking about the game day routine when speaking to the media after Friday's practice.

 

The Cardinals will hit the practice field Saturday and Sunday before meeting the Hurricanes inside Papa John's Cardinal Stadium at 8 p.m. on Monday night.

 

"It takes a long time to get ready for that game," Petrino said Friday of the late kickoff time. "We'll let them sleep in a little longer than usual. We'll get up, have a brunch, then we'll go to one of the local high schools and do a walk-through, have a special teams meeting and then let them relax."

 

"(We will) try to get there four hours before the game and do your normal pre-game meal and get ready to come to the stadium. It's the longest day ever waiting for an eight o'clock game."

 

Once at the stadium, the Cardinals will resurrect the once beloved Card March. The team's pre-game walk into the stadium was a Petrino staple and fan favorite during his first stint at the school from 2003 until 2006.

 

"We'll do the Card March like we did before," Petrino said. "We'll get dropped off at the far end of the stadium and come down underneath the tunnel and into the stadium. I make sure that'll be exciting. I'm sure it'll be a great atmosphere. There's a lot of energy for it."

 

---

Outside of addressing the team's logistical plan for game day, Petrino also used Friday's media session to discuss the benefits that playing on a Monday night on national television will offer the program.

 

Invariably, there are problems concerning focus that can arise for team's kicking off the season in the national spotlight, but Petrino is no stranger to handling such situations. In his first stint at Louisville and during his time at Arkansas, Petrino faced marquee teams in primetime slots with regularity.

 

"I think that's what you look for. What you really want is to be able to play in games like this," Petrino said before referencing Louisville's 2006 Thursday night home win over then-third-ranked West Virginia.

 

Aside from Petrino, the Louisville football team is loaded with players having big-game experience. Several players are still on the roster who played in the team's 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl win over Florida, as well as last season's Russell Athletic Bowl victory.

"You just focus on your preparation," Petrino said. "Go through the process and do things right each day. I think we're fortunate that we have a lot of players who are very experienced. They've played in big games, have played in BCS bowl games."

 

---

Like most teams in college football, Louisville ended their fall camp with several injuries. The most notable being the foot injury sustained last Friday by standout wide receiver DeVante Parker.

 

Parker, who is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks, was expected to be the Cardinals' biggest offensive weapon this season. As a junior in 2013, Parker caught 55 passes for a team-high 885 yards and 12 touchdowns.

 

Without him, the Cardinals will need several members of the receiving corps to pick up the slack.

 

"It's always hard when you lose a really good players, and certainly DeVante is that way. Like I said earlier, you're not going to have one guy replace his production."

 

For Petrino, the absence of Parker will sting, but the coach sees it as an opportunity for creativity in play-calling and for other players to make waves.

 

"We have to do it with a number of guys. I feel like we're very lucky that we have guys with a lot of experience, guys that have made plays, a good group of tight ends, and depth at running back. It helps you spread the wealth around a little bit. Guys are excited to see their number get called."

 

Petrino also addressed the situation of senior running back Michael Dyer, who has been nursing an injured quad. Dyer has been designated as questionable for Monday's game, but Petrino said Dyer looks "a little more doubtful each day."

 

---

 

The Hurricanes will start the game Monday with the depth chart's third quarterback in true freshman Brad Kaaya. Kaaya was pushed into the starting role after an injury to senior Ryan Williams and the suspension of redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen.

 

 Facing a quarterback without college film can be a challenge in pre-game preparation. Petrino was asked about how he and his staff have prepared for the mystery quarterback on Friday night.

 

"Really all we did was watch his high school video. We saw the different talents that he has, he's a guy that can really throw the ball," Petrino said.

 

"We just have to go out an play our game, do the things we need to do. We need to know what to do defensively and put some pressure on him, make him adjust to our defense."

 Redshirt freshman Will Gardner was named the starter on Sunday night by head coach Bobby Petrino. After tearing his ACL as a freshman, it meant a lot to Gardner to be named the starter for opening night.

"It's exciting, I'm very blessed," Gardner said. "The confidence coach Petrino and coach McGee showed in me to name me the starter, it's a very exciting feeling but it's also gives you a lot of confidence know that they're behind you."

###

 

In the 36-9 win over Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl last season, the Cardinals held Miami to just 14 yards on the ground. However, the Hurricanes were missing one piece, Duke Johnson, who rushed for 950 yards and six touchdowns a year ago.
 

"He's a really good player," said Petrino. "He's somebody that we have to contain. We've got to do a good job of setting edges with our outside linebackers and defensive ends. Our safeties are going to have a to do a good job coming downhill and tackling, and we've got to get 11 guys to the ball. I think that's the biggest thing when you watch him is that we're going to have to run full speed to the ball because he's a guy that can take it the distance."

 

###

The Cardinals will open the season with a conference game when they take on Miami in the ACC opener. It will be the first time since they opened with Memphis State in the 1973 Missouri Valley Conference opener. Head coach Bobby Petrino likes the idea of opening the year with such an important game.

 

"I like to have an opening game that means something," said Petrino. "I've always enjoyed that, I think that it really helps you throughout the offseason, helps you through summer, it's a real motivating factor in camp. You condition for it, you get ready for it, so I've always enjoyed that. As far as the conference goes, I don't know. This will be the first time I ever had to open with a conference game, but I think some of the thoughts throughout, when you look at some of the people throughout the country too, that some of the thoughts are if you're going to lose a game, you'd rather lose it early when you have a chance to get back late in the season and find a way to get into the playoffs."

 

###

 

The Cardinals will play on Monday night for just the sixth time in school history when they face Miami on ESPN. It will be the first appearance on Monday since the Cardinals lost the Gator Bowl to Virginia Tech in 2006 under head coach Bobby Petrino. 

 

###

 

Senior defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin is ready to play. After sitting out the spring because of injury, Mauldin can't wait to take the field.


"I don't think impatient is the word, because now that we have our minds on Miami, we get to actually play them in our heads before we go out and play them physically," said Mauldin. "We need to learn how their offensive schemes are as a defense and learn how their offensive schemes are as an offense. Just learning their schemes is pretty much where we are about right now."

 

 

 

Subscribe and Share