Summer Opponent Preview – Murray State

Victor Anderson
Senior Victor Anderson

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In a nationally televised game shown on ESPNU, Louisville opens the second season under Charlie Strong with a visit from Murray State on Thursday, Sept. 1, at 6 p.m.

Murray State, which finished 6-5 last season under first-year head coach Chris Hatcher, was one of the better offensive teams in FCS, averaging 36.1 points per game and 449.7 yards of total offense. Quarterback Casey Brockman is one of the top quarterbacks in the nation after throwing for 2,442 yards and 15 touchdowns a year ago. It was on the defensive side of the football where Murray State has to get better.

The Racers allowed 30.4 points per game and almost 400 yards of total offense last year.

The Cardinals handled the Racers 73-10 in the last meeting between the two schools in 2007 and own an 11-6 series advantage. Louisville has won the last three games in the series and haven’t lost to Murray since 1984 – a 26-23 Racers win in Louisville.

Offensive Player to Watch
After taking over the starting job towards the end of the previous two seasons, Casey Brockman enters the 2011 season as the clear-cut starter to lead the ‘Hatch Attack.’ Brockman enters the season rated as one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the FCS according to The Sports Network. Despite starting just six games a season ago, Brockman completed 213-of-320 for 2,442 yards and 15 touchdowns, while only throwing six interceptions. The self proclaimed wild horse also rushed for 292 yards and seven touchdowns. He made the most of his first start of the season by throwing for a school-record 570 yards and seven touchdowns. He followed that by setting a single-game record for attempts (58) and completions (41) in a victory over Eastern Illinois. Brockman nearly became the first quarterback to throw for more than 500 yards in a game twice, when he fell just short with a 497-yard passing performance against Austin Peay. In the season finale, Brockman added another record. He became the second signal caller in school history to pass for 300 yards and rush for a 100 yards when he went for 300 yards passing and 112 on the ground in a victory over Tennessee State.

Defensive Players to Watch
Strength in numbers is the approach that the Racers take with their defensive line. MSU returns eight players that were in the regular rotation a season ago. Senior defensive end Jamal Crook returns for his fourth season as a starter on the defensive front. Over his first three years, Crook has posted 5.5 sacks and 18 tackles-for-loss. Senior Richard Biers emerged from spring practice as the starter on the end opposite of Crook. Biers posted 12 tackles and forced a fumble in 11 games a season ago. Senior Joe Gamsky emerged last season as a force in the middle and continued his work this spring. Gamsky tied for the team lead with 3.5 sacks, while ranking second with eight tackles-for-loss. He also forced two fumbles and had three quarterback hurries.

Connections
Murray State assistant coach Kenny Parker played for and coached with Charlie Strong at the University of Florida. Parker spent 10 seasons at Florida as a player and a coach.

Oddity
This marks the second consecutive mid-week nationally televised game between Louisville and Murray State. Louisville opened the 2007 season on Thursday night on ESPNU.

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