Oct. 17, 2011
||FRIDAY GAME INFORMATION
||Matchup: Louisville (2-4, 0-1) vs. Rutgers (5-1, 2-0)
||Date/Time: Friday, Oct. 21 / 8 p.m.
||Site: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium (55,000)
||TV Talent: Dave Lamont (pbp), David Diaz-Infante (color)
||Radio: WHAS (840/790 WKRD); SIRIUS Ch. 85
||Radio Talent: Paul Rogers (pbp), Tony Stallings (color), Doug Ormay (sidelines)
|Louisville vs. Rutgers Notes
|SELECTED QUOTES: Charlie ~nbsp>Strong
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Louisville head coach Charlie Strong met with reporters on Monday to preview this week's BIG EAST home game against Rutgers. The Cardinals and Scarlet Knights will kick off on Friday, Oct. 21, at 8 p.m. at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.
Strong opened Monday's news conference by addressing the disappointment and frustration with the Cardinals' mistakes in losing at rival Cincinnati last Saturday despite having a nine-point halftime lead. After taking a 16-7 lead into the halftime break, Louisville was outscored 18-0 in the second half of the 25-16 defeat.
"You know what's frustrating is that we play hard, but we don't play very smart," Strong said. "You look at the last two games, especially the Cincinnati game - we get a lead, 16-7, and then it's almost like we're waiting for something bad to happen. And when it does happen, we're not good enough to respond. It's all about confidence. Our guys have to understand there are going to be shifts and there are going to be changes in the game, so when it does happen, how do we respond."
Among the areas Strong cited on Monday where improvement is required are the kicking game and with the accountability in the lockerroom.
"We have to eliminate those mistakes even in the kicking game," said Strong. "We have to win the kicking game. There were three balls on the ground (in the kicking game) on Saturday and we don't recover any of them. Then, it is all about accountability in our program, where guys have to be held accountable and they have to be held accountable to their teammates."
Strong also said he believes that if the improvements on the field are made and the accountability throughout the program increases, the Cardinals will find success. That success will come with the team putting together two strong halves rather than struggling to play a complete game.
"When that starts happening, then this program will start making the change," he said. "We've been our own worst enemy. When we approach a game, the preparation is there. Guys are listening and buying into the coaching. It's all about playing two halves."
Defensively, Strong talked on Monday about the Cardinals' inability to limit big plays. He cited some specific instances that turned last Saturday's game in favor of the Bearcats and were keys to the loss.
"Defensively, we played good enough, but we didn't play good enough to go win the football game," said Strong. "There were three big runs in the game. We get them to second down and then (Zach) Collaros scrambles for 15, which sets up the first touchdown. Then, (Isaiah) Pead breaks a 50-yard run on our defense. Then, you look at the two throws. There was a wheel-route for 34 yards, which got the ball down there. Then, there was another throw for a touchdown. Defensively, we just can't give up the big plays."
Strong continued by complimenting the improved work of kicker Chris Philpott in last week's game and that led to him addressing the continued struggles offensively and defensively for the Cardinals.
"(Chris) Philpott did a better job hitting the field goals," he explained. "We have to turn those field goals into touchdowns. We need touchdowns so that way our guys feel better about going out on defense. But, it doesn't matter if it is 3-0, 6-0 or 9-0; we have to go defend and that's what defense is all about. We still have to continue to grow and develop. This is a young football team. I'm not going to make excuses for it. We've played six games now. It's time that they've grown up and we have to go win these games."
One explanation for the team's inconsistent play this season has been the youth and inexperience. Despite that, a number of young players have made big impacts in 2011 for the Cardinals.
"Eli (Rogers) is progressing very well. Just as an offense, you look at Teddy (Bridgewater), you look at your two guards with (Jake) Smith and Jamon Brown replacing (John) Miller," said Strong. "Then you look at Michaelee (Harris) outside. DeVante (Parker) has been injured but there's another player who's young. Take Dominique Brown who's a young player learning the running back position. Then on defense, (B.J.) Dubose is making some plays for us. He played a really good game on Saturday. Marcus Smith, we have some young talent. Now, it's all about putting it together as a football team where our older guys and our young guys mesh. We're not meshing right now. We need some older guys to step up and play a little better."
On Friday, the Cardinals will host a Rutgers team that is at 5-1 overall and 2-0 in BIG EAST Conference games. The strength of the Scarlet Knights, who have won four straight overall entering the game, appears to be the defense. RU is tied for the national lead in turnovers gained with 24 while leading in turnover margin at 2.17. They're allowing just 16.0 points per game, which ranks 12th nationally.
"They are a pressure team. If you watch their defense, they are going to bring pressure from the field, they are going to bring it from the boundary and bring it up the middle," said Strong. "They are hitting the quarterback and causing balls to pop out. They are hitting receivers and causing balls to pop up. They are a pressure defense and are playing really well."
Friday's game will be the first of back-to-back BIG EAST home games for the Cardinals. Louisville will host Syracuse on Saturday, Oct. 29 at noon at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in a game that will be televised regionally by the BIG EAST Network and locally on WHAS-TV.