Matchup Spotlight: Louisville Offense vs. Missouri State Defense

Video Interviews: Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson | RB Coach Kenny Carter | Senorise Perry

The 23rd-ranked Cardinals enter Saturday’s game with Missouri State following one of their most impressive offensive outings during head coach Charlie Strong’s three seasons in Louisville. With efficiency and balance on offense, the Cards put together three straight touchdown scoring drives of more than 85 yards to open the game and never looked back in the win over Kentucky.

“I was really pleased with how our offensive line played. They played a very physical game and it was pretty clean football,” said U of L offensive coordinator Shawn Watson. “I thought both of our backs ran really well. Jeremy and Senorise have both developed into the types of runners in our zone scheme that you want to see on film. They do a great job of pressing the line and then taking the single cut. They ran physical. I thought the receivers played well and Teddy had a really exceptional game. He did a great job at the line of scrimmage for us and he did a really nice job of making pass decisions. When things broke down, he created plays.”

In last Sunday’s win, the Cardinals threw for 247 yards and ran for 219 in very a balanced attack. On the other side of the ball, Missouri State allowed Kansas State to rush for 324 yards and throw for 169 in a 51-9 road loss. The Bears stayed close for three quarters behind its defense and trailed only 16-9 with 15 minutes to go before the Wildcats closed the game with 35 straight points.

In Saturday’s game against Missouri State and throughout the remaining games on the Cardinals’ 2012 slate, the success of the offense will begin with the effectiveness of the blocking up front and the leadership and production from the quarterback. In week one, Louisville received high marks in both categories.

“The offensive line and the quarterback are the people that run your offense,” Carter said. “If those guys are on, then everything else will take care of itself. Our offensive line does a great job. Dave Borberly is as good of an offensive line coach as there is in the country. If they just listen to him, they’ll be able to continue to improve as the season goes along.”

Making his first start in the Governor’s Cup showdown, sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater used the strong work from the offensive line to help set a single game school record for completion percentage (90.5) as he threw for 232 yards on 19-of-21 passing. And he was more than willing to spread the wealth with all of the talented receiving options on the Cardinals’ roster this season.

“I’m not a statistic guy, but I think I was told nine guys caught passes in the game, and that’s the nature of the offense,” said Watson. “That’s the difference between Teddy this year and Teddy last year. He didn’t understand all the weapons he had and how to use those weapons. Now, he knows what weapons he has and how to use them. He’s going to distribute the ball all over the field.”

When Bridgewater wasn’t throwing the ball around, he was giving it off to either Senorise Perry or Jeremy Wright, who each ran for more than 100 yards and accounted for all four of the Cardinals’ touchdowns. The depth at running back was known to be a strength entering the season, but Sunday’s performance created even more excitement about how productive Louisville can be on the ground as the season moves forward.

“I do not know if I necessarily saw them rushing for 100 yards in the same game, but I knew they would have success because they’re that talented,” said Carter. “They’re great kids. They work really hard. They’ve afforded themselves the opportunity to go out and produce the way they have.”

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