Fundamentals instead of emotions in rivalry
Louisville football doesn’t want its rivalry game against Kentucky to become any bigger than it has to be. The Cardinals travel to Lexington Nov. 30 for their final game of the regular season against their in-state rival.
Louisville offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford says rivalry games are special, but players must focus on their assignments and fundamentals instead of emotions. Big plays can come in the passing and running game if players don’t press.
“In a lot of big plays that we have, those are plays within the offense that become big plays because everybody is doing their job and one of our special skill position guys make something happen with it,” Ledford said. “We just have to keep doing what we are doing and stay with it. Making sure we are getting to our marks, making sure we are playing good assignment, sound football.”
Louisville is averaging 34.4 points and 453.4 yards of offense this season, but faces a Kentucky defense that limits opponents to 18 points and 315.2 yards per game. Ledford said Kentucky’s defensive front is the first thing that stands out to him.
“They have great size, great length,” Ledford said. “They do a great job defensively with their scheme and what their coaches do, their kids are what they are supposed to be, they fit well from the front guys to the back-end guys. They fit where they are supposed to be.”
Louisville won’t shy away from trying to run the football against a Kentucky run defense that holds opponents to 136.9 yards per game. The Cardinals had their best rushing performance of the season last week against Syracuse, finishing with 370 yards as Javian Hawkins had a career-high 233 yards.
The Cardinals’ passing game has found success in recent weeks with the progression of Micale Cunningham. The redshirt sophomore quarterback has thrown for 480 yards and nine touchdowns in the past two weeks.
Cunningham says his timing with receivers have improved.
“Over the past couple games I have been throwing a lot better,” Cunningham said. “Seeing what the defense gives me and taking it.”
Louisville kicks off against its rival at noon.
“It’s another week,” left tackle Mekhi Becton said. “We understand it’s a rivalry, but we can’t get into that.”