Louisville hot after slow start to season
Published: Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Updated: Thursday, November 3, 2011 00:11
After a slow start to the season, Louisville and head coach Charlie Strong has responded soundly.
The Cardinals' first month of football included losses to Florida International and Marshall, but Louisville's last two games have been wins over Rutgers and Syracuse.
"Our team played well against Syracuse on Saturday in all three phases – offensively, defensively and in the kicking game," Strong said. "The week before, against West Virginia, they (Syracuse's offense) had no negative yardage plays. We just talked about on defense we had to get to the quarterback."
Louisville had the fortune of playing Syracuse at home, but this will not be the case on Saturday when Louisville travels to Morgantown to face No. 24 West Virginia.
"We know that this week will be a big test for us," Strong said. "We really have to improve and we need to improve. We're nowhere where we should be."
The Cardinals have struggled in the past against the Mountaineers – particularly in Morgantown.
"Going to West Virginia, we have lost the last four games there, and we haven't played very well. We have to go there, and we have to play well. We know it is going to be in a hostile environment. We have to play well in all three phases," he said.
The Cardinals are the underdog this weekend, and Charlie Strong agrees it will be a tall task for his team to come out with a win.
"They are a better football team right now," Strong said. "They have a good, experienced quarterback in Geno Smith. You look at (Tavon) Austin and (Stedman) Bailey, guys who they can get the football to and guys who can make plays with the ball in their hands."
The Louisville defense has been one of the best in the country in 2011. It is holding its opponents to 16.2 points per game. Strong understands his defense must perform well this weekend.
"Our defense is really going to have to play well because you are looking at the number one offense in the conference, and you're looking at the number one offensive player in the conference with Geno Smith," he said.
Although the Cardinals have lost four straight games at Mountaineer Field, this will be Strong's first-ever appearance in Morgantown.
"I've never been to Morgantown, but just talking to guys on our staff who have been there, they say it's really hostile," he said. "It kind of reminds you of the Southeastern Conference. It is probably a little rowdier crowd than the Southeastern Conference."