By Dave Morrison
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen isn’t surprised that Louisville shut down Syracuse in a 27-10 win at Louisville last week.
Nor is he surprised the Cardinals have given up over 20 points only twice (a surprising 24-17 loss to Florida International and a 25-16 loss at Cincinnati) and that Louisville is giving up just 16.3 points per game.
“It starts with coaching,” Holgorsen said. “They’re well-coached. Charlie Strong has been as well-respected of a defensive coordinator as there’s been in the profession for the last two decades. The guy’s won two national championships and has been a part of some good programs being the defensive coordinator. That tells you something.”
And he is well aware of what Louisville has done of late.
“They’ve done something in the last two weeks that we haven’t done,” Holgorsen said. “They beat Syracuse and Rutgers, which are two pretty good teams. They’ll come in here ready to go. They’re big. They’re physical. They’re talented. They’re athletic, and they’re going to come right into the thick of things in the Big East and expect to win.”
Louisville (4-4, 2-1) visits West Virginia (6-2, 2-1) Saturday for a noon game that will be televised locally on WOAY-TV.
Louisville’s four losses have come by a total of 27 points, and they have been in every game this season.
And that is a credit, Holgorsen said, to Strong bringing in a strong recruiting class.
“They’ve done a nice job of getting guys and recruiting,” Holgorsen said. “They play a lot of people.
“They’re two-deep at each position, and a lot of those guys play. They have a bunch of competition that’s making them better, as well. They play well, and they’ve got good players.”
Louisville has given up just 97.4 yards per game on the ground and just five rushing touchdowns. They have limited opponents to 198.2 yards through the air and 10 touchdown passes.
As good as Louisville’s defense has been, the team has struggled at points on offense.
Louisville is averaging 123.1 yards on the ground, and they have scored just four rushing touchdowns. The Cardinals are passing for 206.2 yards through the air.
They’re getting better,” Holgorsen said. “They’ve made some changes. It goes back to their young guys, and they’re playing a bunch of people early. They didn’t have as much success as they wanted, so they made some changes. Since they’ve done that, they’ve been a little more efficient. They may not put up big numbers or big points, but they’re more efficient.”
The Cardinals have settled on Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, and after a slow start, he has solidified at the position. He threw for two touchdowns last week against Syracuse.
“When they threw the ball, he was getting it out pretty well,” Holgorsen said. “As anything, when they’re in throwing situations, we need to go get him and attack the ball or attack the guy with the ball.”