The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

November 2, 2011

‘Strong’ opinions of WVU

After Louisville’s 17-13 loss to Marshall, at home, and two losses that followed, many WVU fans penciled in Saturday’s game at Milan Puskar Stadium as a win.

Not so fast.

All of a sudden, Saturday’s noon kickoff against Louisville, which will be televised locally on WOAY-TV, shapes up to be a big one.

Both West Virginia (6-2) and the Cardinals (4-4) are 2-1 in the Big East.

Louisville has since won two in a row, including last week’s convincing 27-10 win over Syracuse, a week after Syracuse smacked West Virginia 49-23.

“Our team played well against Syracuse on Saturday in all three phases: Offensively, defensively and in the kicking game,” Louisville coach Charlie Strong said. “The week before against West Virginia, (Syracuse) had no negative-yardage plays. We just talked about on defense we had to get to the quarterback. On the first play of the game, we throw them for a tackle for a loss. Then we had 15 negative-yardage plays and four sacks.”

Strong knows all about the Cardinals’ lack of success in Morgantown (four straight losses), even though it’s his first trip to Milan Puskar Stadium.

And he had words of wisdom for his team.

“I’ve never been to Morgantown, but just talking to guys on our staff that have been there, they say it’s really hostile,” said Strong. “It kind of reminds you of the Southeastern Conference. It is probably a little rowdier crowd than the Southeastern Conference. You have to tell them (the players) that this is what you are going to walk into and this is what you have to be aware of.

“Know this: They can’t come out of the stands. The game is played on the field and they can say whatever they want. They will be sitting in the stands. You’re on the football field.”

Teddy Bridgewater has apparently won the quarterback job, and has completed 95 of 150 passes for 1,029 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions.

Michaelee Harris has 26 receptions for 356 yards and two touchdowns and Josh Chichester has 21 for 282 yards and a touchdown.

Jeremy Wright has 64 carries for 323 yards for a team that has just four rushing touchdowns. The Cardinals have only given up five rushing scores on the year.

Strong believes it will be a different team his squad sees than the one that showed up at Syracuse. Especially at home.

It is WVU’s first home game in almost a month.

“They are a better football team right now,” Strong said. “They have a good, experienced quarterback in Geno Smith. You look at (Tavon) Austin and (Stedman) Bailey, guys who they can get the football to and guys who can make plays with the ball in their hands.”

West Virginia will be at Cincinnati the following Saturday for a game against the Big East-leading Bearcats, who are at Pitt this week. Louisville hosts Pitt Nov. 12.

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