Oct. 23, 2013
Vance ~nbsp>Bedford | Deiontrez ~nbsp>Mount
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The message has been clear for the University of Louisville football team's defense after failing to maintain a 28-7 lead before falling 38-35 to UCF last Friday at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
The loss put Louisville at 6-1 on the year, but more importantly pushed them out of the top 10 of the national polls.
The Cardinals thought they took a commanding 21-point lead late in the third quarter, and with one of the top-ranked defenses in the country ready to take the field, everyone in the stadium thought it was unlikely the Cardinals would give the lead or the game away.
However, that's not what happened, as UCF scored 24 unanswered points and drove down the field after the Cardinals had regained the lead with 3:00 to play in the game.
"They didn't maintain the lead, number one," head coach Charlie Strong said. "You get the ball with three minutes to go and you've been playing really good on defense. You expect someone to step up and go make a play."
For the first time all season, no one did step up and stop the momentum that UCF had on offense, and the Cardinals had to suffer a crucial conference loss.
"It was a disappointing loss we suffered on Friday night, but someone told me a long time ago, `Never let yesterday take too much of today,'" Strong said. "So, it's a loss that we have to learn from and just move on and get ready for South Florida, who is a very physical football team. We know that the preparation has to be there this week and the focus has to be there. We've got to take a football team on the road that's prepared to go play."
This week in practice, the Cardinals have turned the page and are focused for a good USF team that has won its last two conference games.
"They are a talented team," junior defensive end Deiontrez Mount said after Wednesday's practice. "They have an outstanding tailback, who likes to cut the ball back like Storm Johnson of UCF did against us last week. We need to stay in our gaps and protect us the back cutting back against the field."
Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, who has directed a top-five defense this season, has already put that game behind him and turned the focus to a South Florida team that loves to run the football.
"You have to put the last game out of your mind," Bedford said on Wednesday. "There is nothing you can do about the last game. We have to turn our focus to South Florida and get ready to go on the road."
USF is a team that will line up and run the football right at the Cardinals, and that is exactly what Bedford expects from the Bulls at noon on Saturday.
"We are playing another team with a lot of athletic players," Bedford said. "Their wide receivers are excellent, a lot like the team we just played. The running back is a Warrick Dunn type back. He is quick, fast and can change direction. In open space, he is going to be hard to handle. He makes me nervous just thinking about it."
Strong is confident that the defense that gave up 31 second-half points will not be the same defense that will take the field on Saturday. With 10 starters back, this veteran group will not let one bad game become a second.
"They've played good all year long," Strong said of his defense. "That was just one game. You still have five to go, so let's go see how well we can come back and this game is behind us. We got to put this game to rest. There's no bingos in this game, so we can't go replay it and go re-do it, so let's go move on."
Louisville's defense is anxious to get back on the field and prove it is one of the top five defenses that took the field last week against UCF. The Cardinals have worked all week on fixing the problems that plagued them last week, and hopefully the message has been heard loud and clear.
The Cardinals are playing a similar team from the one which beat them last week, and the Cardinals are hoping history doesn't repeat itself.