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LOUISVILLE, KY. -- The Louisville Cardinals (1-1) have struggled under Head Coach Steve Kragthorpe to maintain the amount of success they had under former coach Bobby Petrino.
The Cardinals are only 12-14 under Kragthorpe and that lack of success has put Kragthorpe on the hot seat, even more so after a "disappointing" loss to rival Kentucky last week.
Despite the loss, Kragthorpe, whose father coached at BYU, says he has seen some progress with his team, but he knows going into Rice-Eccles Stadium to face the University of Utah (2-1) is "going to be a great challenge."
"We are going to have to play extremely well. It is a great place to play; it's loud," Kragthorpe said. "It's going to be just as loud or louder than Kentucky."
But that may be the only element of a home field advantage the Utes have. He said travel won't be an issue because "going west is easier to play than going east because you're gaining time."
And the altitude? "People are going to make a big deal about the altitude. We're not freaking going to play on Mount Everest here," Kragthorpe professed. "We're going to 4,200 feet. It's not that big of a deal and in fact I think our guys will like the weather better because it's dryer. You're not going to sweat nearly as much."Utah is coming off a tough loss to Oregon ending its 16-game winning streak and knocking it out of the Top 25. However, the Utes have still won 23 of their 25 games.
Kragthorpe says a lot of that success can be credited to the Ute defense, which has uncharacteristically given up a number of big plays in 2009. But that's not typical of a Kyle Whittingham-led defense.
"They've got eight starters coming back on the defensive side of the ball. They are very, very good on defense and Kyle's always been very good on defense wherever he's been," Kragthorpe said. "[They're] very aggressive. They're going to use a multitude of blitzes, a lot of variety in their blitzes."
He's confident his offense can put up points, knows they can't settle for field goals, "When we get down in the red zone we have to score touchdowns."
He's relying heavily on junior quarterback Justin Burke who threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns against Kentucky and sophomore running back Victor Anderson who had his sixth career 100-yard game with 110 yards on 19 carries against the Wildcats.
Despite a new quarterback, new crop of receivers and new offensive coordinator Kragthorpe doesn't think the Ute offense has missed a beat. He says the offensive line is "big and physical" and says his team is preparing to face a "very good back" in Matt Asiata and the "Wildcat" formation.
This is the fourth meeting between the Cardinals and Utes. Utah has won all three previous meetings including the 2007 showdown in Cardinal Stadium 44-35.
Kickoff for Saturday, Sept. 26 is set for 5:30 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
- The Cardinals forced three turnovers in the loss to Kentucky, winning the turnover battle for the second straight game. Louisville is +3 this season.
- In three seasons as the head coach of the Cardinals, head coach Steve Kragthorpe is 3-8 on the road and is 5-7 in games decided by seven points or less.
- The Cardinals have lost their last four road games. Louisville's last road win was a 35-28 decision at Memphis on Oct. 10, 2008.