Louisville returns to FIU Stadium for the second time in three years on Saturday as the Cardinals conclude a four-game series with FIU. The Panthers matched another ACC team, Pittsburgh, last week for nearly four quarters before the team from the Steel City won. Last time in Miami, the Cardinals escaped with a 28-21 victory over the Panthers.
On this trip to Miami, Louisville has a new coach, Bobby Petrino, and a new quarterback, Will Gardner. The Cardinals are a different team from last year as are the Panthers. For more on the Cardinals, here is Louisville radio host Jody Demling to answer 5 Questions on Louisville.
1. The Cardinals seem to be very balanced on offense. Who are some of the key playmakers on the offense and what did Virginia do defensively to limit the UL offense last week?
JD: DeVante Parker (photo below) is the key weapon and is still sidelined for the Louisville offense with a broken bone in his foot. Senior running back Dominique Brown is the workhorse out of the backfield, while true freshman L.J. Scott has been solid as a backup. James Quick, Eli Rogers and Michaelee Harris have been the best weapons from the wide receiver spot, while tight end Gerald Christian is a major threat. Freshman Charles Standberry has two touchdown catches in limited action. Virginia turned up the pressure after the first series and really came after quarterback Will Gardner, who is still inexperienced.
2. What are the strengths of the UL defense? Where have opponents had more success against the Cards defense -- running or throwing the ball?
JD: The defense has been flying around and really getting to the ball in numbers. The defense is a lot better than most expected after losing two first-round picks (Marcus Smith and Calvin Pryor) and another player (Preston Brown) who is leading the Buffalo Bills in tackles. They have a lot of playmakers and really get after it on defense. The 3-4 defense under new coordinator Todd Grantham is a risk/reward and the reward has been great so far.
3. I would imagine the Cardinals are expecting a big contingent in the stands with 19 players from South Florida, including 17 from Miami. I know Charlie Strong was a big recruiter of South Florida. How much do you believe Bobby Petrino will recruit down here?
JD: With Lamar Thomas and Terrell Buckley on the staff, the Cardinals will try to stay in the mix in South Florida. But it won't be the mass amount of recruiting that it was with Strong. Petrino really likes Alabama and Mississippi and Georgia and is very successful there also.
4. What do you think are some of the differences between Petrino and Strong? How are the Cardinals teams different under each coach?
JD: The differences are obviously offense (Petrino) and defense (Strong) but the defense this time under Petrino is really stout. The team is pretty disciplined and has played on a lot of emotion this year. That's something that started with Strong and has continued with Petrino, who while he likes to throw the ball a lot is a 50-50 type of guy. He really likes to run the football.
5. How do you think Saturday's game will play out?
JD: With all of the South Florida ties, I can see Louisville starting off slow. There will be a lot of guys playing in front of family and friends and it always seems to be a little bit of a distraction. But in the end, I think Louisville will try to run, run, run the ball. I think they win by a couple of touchdowns.