Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Cardinals set to come out winging

New coach Petrino promises aggressive play against Wildcats

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - First-year Louisville coach Bobby Petrino promises the Cardinals won't play it safe against Kentucky on Sunday.

"Any time you go in as the underdog, which we are, you become more aggressive," Petrino said Monday at his first weekly news conference of the season. "You seek out opportunities to throw the ball deep down the field, where in other games, you might not.

"That's how you try to swing momentum and be able to create your own advantages."

Petrino, a meticulous game planner, is still trying to guess what the Wildcats' strategy will be. He and his coaches have been working overtime trying to probe the minds of new Kentucky offensive coordinator Ron Hudson and new defensive coordinator Mike Archer.

"Those two guys will probably be the ones running the show," Petrino said.

In addition to breaking down Kentucky's 22-17 win over Louisville in 2002, Petrino and his staff have pored over film of Kansas State - where Hudson was the offensive coordinator from 1997-2002 - and the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers - where Archer coached the linebackers from 1996-2002.

Petrino said his defense has a handle on Hudson's schemes, although he's interested to see how Hudson will use quarterback Jared Lorenzen.

"He's a drop-back thrower and Kansas State is a big option team," Petrino said.

Petrino has also theorized what Kentucky will do with junior quarterback Shane Boyd, Lorenzen's backup. Kentucky coach Rich Brooks has said, at times, he'll have Lorenzen and the more agile Boyd on the field together.

"We've tried to prepare for that from the first day of practice, putting two quarterbacks in the backfield, motioning one guy out, motioning the other guy out," Petrino said. "We're just guessing, really, about what they're going to do with it."

Petrino has a clearer idea of what Archer will do from working for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars - the Steelers' divisional rivals - from 1999-2001. The Steelers used a 3-4 scheme, with four linebackers ready to blitz on any given play.

"Luckily, I've coached against it a number of times," Petrino said. "They'll line up the same and I'm sure they'll bring a lot of pressure at us with their linebackers and some of their secondary guys."

The unknowns for Petrino don't end with Kentucky. Junior quarterback Stefan LeFors will make his first start since high school on national television and in front of an expected capacity crowd at Commonwealth Stadium.

Petrino thinks LeFors is ready - but he isn't certain.

"I'm anxious to see how he does when things break down, his ability to run and make something happen," Petrino said. "We've never had it 'live' for the quarterback. You always wonder how good a quarterback is until it is completely 'live."'

One thing Petrino does know already is that his team is more cohesive than last year's Cardinals, who were bickering on the sideline before last year's season opener even ended.

"That's a big thing for us," Petrino said. "Some of the time when we look back at video from a year ago, when things went bad, how did you react to it? That's the question we've asked them. Are we going to point fingers at one another? Or are we going to stay together? That's what we've been trying to preach."

Petrino led the Cardinals through a "dress rehearsal" at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on Saturday, simulating the exact schedule they'll have leading up to Sunday's game in Lexington, including an early-evening scrimmage.

"I have a lot of confidence in the way they've prepared up until this point," Petrino said. "We need to have a good week of practice and really get focused in and have the coaches cut back on things we're not doing well, so we don't make a lot of mistakes."

KENTUCKY: Quarterback Jared Lorenzen (Highlands) and defensive end Vincent "Sweet Pea" Burns have been elected captains.

"Jared has been through a lot during his time here and has shown leadership on and off the field," coach Rich Brooks said. "Sweet Pea has shown his leadership through effort on the field and by not being afraid to speak up when something needs to be said."

Lorenzen is in his second season as team captain. Brooks also said two game captains will join Lorenzen and Burns each week.

U of L at UK

When: 6:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington


Radio: WSAI-AM (1530)

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