When 10th-ranked Louisville hosts Temple in Saturday’s BIG EAST Conference matchup at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium (noon ET, ABC TV), history will be just one of the things at stake for the Cardinals. With a win, U of L will not only improve to 4-0 in league action for the first time since joining the BIG EAST, the Cardinals will also reach 9-0 for the first time in the history of the program, which dates back to 1912. Louisville also enters the game with its highest ranking since 2007 and one of just six unbeaten teams left in the nation. With the national spotlight getting brighter and school records on the line, Cardinals’ head coach Charlie Strong expects his squad to be focused solely on this week’s one-game season.
“You have to earn respect as you go along and you just look at what has happened within the program and you know how kids are, they just live in the now,” Strong told reporters on Monday afternoon. “The only thing they are thinking about is right here, right now, and lets go get this next game. What is really good about this team is we do not even talk about the record. They do not even say, ‘Hey, we are 8-0.’ It is all about the next opponent.”
Strong’s expectation was echoed by Louisville players on Monday, including senior offensive lineman Alex Kupper, who expects the Cardinals to continue the same approach that has helped them win their first eight games of 2012.
“Just focus one game at a time like we have been doing,” said Kupper. “You can’t look ahead to the games we haven’t had. We have Temple this week. That’s what we have to get in everybody’s mind. We have to focus on Temple and Temple only.”
The Owls (3-4, 2-2) are guided by head coach Steve Addazio, who is 12-8 overall in his second season at the helm. Addazio, who led Temple to its first bowl win since 1979 in earning a 37-15 victory over Wyoming in the 2011 New Mexico Bowl, coached alongside Strong from 2005-09 as assistant coaches at Florida and the two are very familiar with one another. Led by senior tailback and Boston College transfer Montel Harris, the Owls like to run the football and Strong says that approach begins with Addazio.
“That is his philosophy and it’s always been his philosophy,” Strong said of the Temple head coach. “Even when we were at Florida, he loved to run the football. They’re a very physical team. It’s all about toughness. They’re going to run the power, which is downhill football and running right at you. Their quarterback (Chris Coyer) is good enough where they can run the quarterback read play, which we’ve seen the last two weeks. He’s not the runner we’ve seen the last two weeks, but he’s good enough to read the end and either give the ball or keep it.”
Temple averages more than 161 yard per game on the ground, slightly better than the Cardinals’ 154 yards of rushing per outing. After starting the season in impressive fashion with its rushing attack, Louisville has not been nearly as efficient or effective on the ground recently. Last week, the Cards rushed for only 108 yards on 37 carries in the win over Cincinnati, while a week earlier in the win over USF, Louisville had just 128 yards on 33 rushes. Despite several injuries on the Cardinals’ offensive line during the last three weeks, Louisville players know the production from the rushing attack must improve and that begins up front.
“You look at the past couple of games and we really haven’t played well up front,” said Kupper. “You don’t want to make excuses, but injuries do linger around. It’s tough to play with guys banged up, but it is just something you have to do. Assignment wise, we’ve been pretty good. It’s just the technique and fundamental issues we have to get corrected.”
Game Information: Louisville (8-0, 3-0) vs. Temple (3-4, 2-2)
When: Nov. 3, 2012 – Noon ET
Where: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium (55,000), Louisville, Ky.
TV: ABC Regional
Radio: The Louisville Sports Radio Network with Paul Rogers (p-x-p), Joe Tronzo (analyst) and Doug Ormay (sideline) calling the action
Series Record: Temple leads 3-2
In Louisville: Temple leads 2-1
Last Meeting: Louisville 62, Temple 0 – 2006 in Philadelphia, Pa.
Rankings: Louisville is ranked 10th in the latest BCS standings, 10th in this week’s USA Today coaches’ poll and 12th in the latest AP Top 25; Temple is unranked.