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."
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."