When University of Louisville senior defensive end Greg Scruggs saw the clock hit 0:00 on Sept. 17 and realized the Cardinals were on the winning end of a 24-17 score, he thought there wasn’t anyone who could keep him quiet. He was going to talk and talk, and who could blame him?
He had just helped Louisville snap its four-game losing streak to Kentucky, and he wanted to enjoy the win as much as he could since he was 0-3 against the Wildcats.
“I was going to talk so much garbage,” said Scruggs. “I wanted to enjoy it since I had never experienced a win over Kentucky. However, I really didn’t talk that much. I was kind of numb because we have never beaten UK since I arrived on campus.”
However, moving on from Louisville’s first win over Kentucky since 2006 isn’t an easy thing for Scruggs and the Cardinals, who play host to Marshall (1-3) on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 3:30 p.m.
“Anybody I talk to is talking to me about the Kentucky game,” said the senior defensive end, who recorded a pair of sacks in the win. “For the first 24 hours, I obviously celebrated, but after the first 24 hours, it’s time to get back to work. I’m glad we had it [the bye week] to not ride that emotional high and keep hearing the pats on the back about it. It feels great to know what we accomplished, but we have got a long season ahead of us. We still have games to play, so the open date was good for us.”
With the home game this weekend, the Cardinals are hoping for a hero’s welcome from the Cardinal faithful.
“I expect the fans to come out in full force as they have been,” said Scruggs. “The first game was on a Thursday night and the second game was a Friday night, so people have things to do and I understand that. The world doesn’t stop for football. It’s a Saturday afternoon, so hopefully everyone will come out and support us and bring their family out to enjoy the show. We bust our tails every week to come out here and put on a show for the fans, so hopefully they’ll come and appreciate it and enjoy that.”
The Cardinals are looking for their first 3-1 start since the 2006 Orange Bowl season, and the play of the defense has been the key. Just like last season, the defense is playing at a high level. The Cardinals recorded 14 tackles for loss in the win over the Wildcats. Louisville is ranked second nationally in tackles for loss and are ranked 21st in total defense. The Cardinals are 11th in the country against the run.
“We are just playing defense the way we know how,” said Scruggs. “If you could see every practice and the intensity about getting to the ball, and the intensity we have about tackling and applying pressure, we are just playing defense how we know. As long as we do that, we will be a force to be reckoned with. When we don’t do that, for example, FIU, you can see what happens, so nothing is guaranteed to us. We put ourselves in a position to go be successful by working hard every day in practice, and we just have to go out and execute. I think in the first and third game we did that.”
The Cardinals’ defense is playing with a ton of confidence and swagger, and the emergence of Scruggs is one of the keys. He knows that if he continues to work hard, good things will happen for him and the rest of the Cardinals, who are slated to start BIG EAST Conference play when the Cardinals travel to Cincinnati to face the Bearcats in Scruggs’ hometown on Oct. 15.