The Cards traveled to Pittsburgh following a week off and returned home with a 45-35 win and 6-0 record. The Cards are 16th in the AP poll, as well as 16th in the initial BCS poll. Here’s how they checked out our five keys to victory.
Pressure the quarterback
Finally! Entering Saturday’s contest, the Cards had only registered five sacks on the season. Following the win, they walked out with ten. That’s right, Louisville put Tino Sunseri on the ground five times and matched their season total in one game. Despite the hopes going into the season of being able to get consistent pressure with rushing four, UofL started bringing heat in a variety of ways and it worked well. Cornerback Terell Floyd and safety Hakeem Smith accounted for 2.5 of the 5 sacks.
Run the football
Louisville didn’t rush for huge numbers yardage wise, but they sure punched the ball into the endzone on the ground. Senorise Perry rushed for 101 yards on 12 carries and scored 4 touchdowns. Fellow running back Jeremy Wright, who was hobbled for some of the game with what appeared to be an ankle or lower leg injury, ran tough for 62 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. Louisville did not gash the Panthers, but they sure ran well when they had to.
Don’t give up the big play
The Cards didn’t give up the big play in terms of a 90 yard touchdown pass or run, but they served up a touchdown to Pitt on a silver platter at the start of the second quarter. Louisville was back to punt and after the ball was snapped, offensive lineman Jake Smith, who was upright protecting the punter, chose to double team a rusher to his right, rather than take Pitt’s Todd Thomas who came strait through the middle, literally untouched. Initially, most (including myself) felt linebacker B.J. Butler was to blame for the blunder, but upon replays I believe Smith was the one at fault.
Either way, Pitt fell on the ball in the endzone and took a 14-7 lead. UofL’s special teams, outside of the field goal unit, has not been that good this year. The kick-off return coverage is shaky at best and they’ve had multiple punts blocked, as well as several other close calls. Coach Kenny Carter needs to tighten things up there.
Bring the intensity
Louisville didn’t necessary have the looks of it early on, but I thought they played with great energy, particularly in comparison to the previous couple games. There’s not a great way to quantify this other than the eye test, but in my opinion, the energy and intensity level was much closer to where it needs to be.
Win the turnover battle
The Cards certainly did not lose the turnover battle, but they didn’t win it either. Neither team coughed the ball up or recorded an interception. However, UofL did not give the ball to Pittsburgh and I’ll take a clean game in the turnover department every time on the road.
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