Whitesburg KY

Cards looking for upset


Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe is prepared to go deep into his playbook on Saturday when the Cardinals visit Commonwealth Stadium searching for a way to end a two-game losing streak to Kentucky.

Really deep.

Asked on Monday how much of his offensive scheme he revealed in a somewhat lethargic 30- 10 win over Indiana State on Sept. 5, Kragthorpe — who is also the offensive coordinator — just laughed.

“We showed about two percent, make sure Kentucky hears that,” he said. “We have 98 percent left, a lot more formations, lot more trick plays, two quarterbacks in the game at the same time, maybe three.”

Might not be a bad idea. The Cardinals (1-0) managed only a measly safety in a 27-2 loss to the Wildcats last year, and that was with an experienced quarterback in Hunter Cantwell and a veteran offensive line.

Now the Cardinals will rely on N.C. State transfer Justin Burke, who looked jittery at times against the Sycamores, and an offensive line that didn’t exactly distinguish itself.

Then again, Kragthorpe knows the game might not depend on Burke. The team that has rushed for more yards has won nearly every game since the series was renewed in 1994.

“The biggest thing is we’ve got to run the football better than we did last year,” he said. “We never really got ourselves in a rhythm running the football, so that’s something we’ve definitely got to do.”

Louisville managed just 53 yards on the ground last year and turned it over five times. This year, Kragthorpe expects things to be different. Running backs Victor Anderson and Bilal Powell are a year older and a year wiser. The offensive line, while relatively inexperienced, won’t have to be dominant to give Anderson or Powell the sliver they need to get going.

Burke, however, would almost prefer to have the game put on his shoulders. He was jittery against the Sycamores while making his first start since his senior year of high school. Burke overthrew several open receivers, a fact he blamed on being too “amped up.” He knows he’s got to do better against the Wildcats.

“We’ve got to complete passes, we’ve got to get back into a rhythm,” he said. “We need to have great rhythm as an offense, to move the ball and we need to up our tempo.”

Just don’t expect Burke to do anything crazy, like throw the ball in a spot where Kentucky All- American cornerback Trevard Lindley can get it.

“He’s a great player,” Burke said. “He really attacks the ball in the air so I need to do a good job of putting the ball where it needs to be, when it needs to be there and our receivers need to do a good job of being aggressive and taking the ball and catching it.”

It may take more than that, however, to pull off the upset. There’s little doubt the pressure is on Kragthorpe, who is just 12-13 since taking over for Bobby Petrino two years ago and winless against the Wildcats.

Though he won’t say the season — and perhaps his future — relies on how the Cardinals fare, he knows what a win could do for the program.

“It’s a rivalry game played early in the year, so it can give you a springboard,” Kragthorpe said. “I do definitely think it can give you a spring in your step, no doubt.”

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