Cavaliers 'D' in crosshairs of No. 21 Louisville
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Louisville coach Bobby Petrino seems to want it all.
The coach in his second tour with the No. 21 Cardinals wants a power running game, an efficient passing game and to see his team show big-play ability by hitting the occasional deep ball.
That hat trick might be difficult to pull off when Louisville (2-0) plays at Virginia (1-1) on Saturday.
The Cavaliers defense has allowed just 17 points in two games, including the opener against No. 12 UCLA. The Bruins won 28-20 on the strength of three defensive touchdowns before halftime.
Virginia also ranks among the national leaders with nine sacks and nine turnovers.
''They have two pretty good pass rushers on the edge and the defensive ends, they have some pretty stout guys on the inside,'' Cardinals lineman Jamon Brown said this week. ''It really comes down to us doing our job as an offensive line, making sure that we protect the passer when it's time to protect the passer and making sure we open holes when it's time to run the ball. Other than that, I think we'll be fine.''
Both teams are coming off blowout wins against FCS opponents, and the Cavaliers are still playing Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns at quarterback. They each led two touchdown drives against Richmond, and the team - and the quarterbacks - seem to have adjusted to sharing the job for the foreseeable future.
''Whenever Matt's in there, I'm rooting for him, and also I'm rooting for our team, because I want him to execute well so our team does well,'' Lambert, one of four team captains, said this week.
''I think that goes hand in hand with Matt, too.''
The Cardinals have already used four quarterbacks, but the job belongs to sophomore Will Gardner, who has been consistent through two games. He's 33 for 50 for 339 yards with four touchdown passes.
He also hasn't thrown an interception, but his longest completion covered just 34 yards.
''We just haven't been able to complete some of the deep balls that we've called and haven't gotten a lot of yards after the catch yet,'' Petrino said. ''We just gotta continue to work at it.''
Here are some things to watch when Louisville plays at Virginia:
GETTING TO KNOW YOU: Louisville is in its first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and basically replaces departed longtime Virginia rival Maryland on the Cavaliers' schedule. The home team will be looking to reverse some history, too, because it is 0-6 when facing a new ACC member.
CARDINALS SECONDARY: Louisville is progressing in replacing all-conference safeties Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith. Transfer James Sample and junior Gerod Holliman each have pickoffs along with junior RCB Charles Gaines. Maybe this is the day when Virginia looks to go downfield a little bit more?
STARTING FAST: The Cardinals seek their first opening-drive TD of the season, a development that could knock Virginia off its heels. The Cavaliers have been drawing poorly, averaging about 39,000 fans in their first two games, but the play of the defense has been what has fired up those in attendance.
WHERE THERE'S SMOKE: Cavaliers tailback Kevin Parks ran for over 1,000 yards last season, but has started slowly this season behind a young offensive line. His backup, Taquan ''Smoke'' Mizzell, is expected to be a big-play guy, but hasn't as yet. Look for Virginia to continually try to get him the ball in space to give him a chance for home run plays.
ATTACK MODE: Defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta's system calls for an aggressive style with stunts and movement, all designed to get sacks and force turnovers. The Cavaliers will be trying to make Cardinals sophomore QB Will Gardner contribute to those totals.
AP Sports Writer Gary B. Graves contributed from Louisville, Kentucky.
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