November 17, 2011
In another must-win situation, the Cardinals head to Connecticut this weekend to face a Huskie squad that owns a 4-5 overall mark (2-2 in the BIG EAST) on Saturday at noon at Rentschler Field.
After giving up 200 yards on the ground in the loss to Pittsburgh last week, a statistic the Louisville defense is not accustomed to seeing, the Cardinals understand the challenge at-hand against a Connecticut squad that excels on the ground behind a physical offensive line.
Sophomore defensive tackle Roy Philon knows his team didn’t perform last week upfront, the main reason why the Cardinals gave up 200 yards on the ground for the first time since a win over Arkansas State – a span of 18 games.
“It had a lot to do with our preparation as a defensive front,” Philon said. “We didn’t fit up a lot of blocks right. We prepared for it well all week, but we didn’t recognize a lot of their formations. It’s all about preparation for us as a defensive line. We have to go out there and fit our blocks. We have to do what we have to do, and come off the ball and play. We have go out and handle the run. We know they are going to run the football.”
The Cardinals have given up that kind of yardage on the ground only three times in 23 games under head coach Charlie Strong, so there is a strong likelihood the Cardinals will respond.
“We are going to come back”, Philon stated emphatically. “When you talk about the run game, you talk about the defensive front. The run game is dependent upon the defensive front and how we play. If we don’t perform well, the defense isn’t going to play well. We were embarrassed to give up that much yardage. We have to come out and play better. I think we will have a better week this week.”
Strong called out his football team this week, blaming the loss on a lack of focus all week in practice, which has plagued the Cardinals this year, especially after big road wins. Louisville fell to Marshall after defeating Kentucky and lost last week to Pittsburgh after winning at 21st-ranked West Virginia.
“We have made people come in this week,” Philon commented. “You have to want to do it. You have to want to do it, but as the defensive line, we are a unit. It’s about us and how much work, time and effort we put into it each day. It’s all about preparation. Whatever we put into it during the week is what you are going to get out of it. I felt last week we got complacent on what we were doing and we might have let up a little bit instead of putting our foot on the throttle.”