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Cardinals have score to settle with Huskies

If the Cardinals have some long memories about the last time they played Connecticut, there’s a good reason.

The Huskies beat up quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, knocking him out twice with ankle and wrist injuries, and then intercepted him in the third overtime to set up a game-winning field goal which led to a stunning 23-20 triple overtime win last November.

So when Louisville travels to East Hartford to meet 0-7 Connecticut on Friday night, there will be no overlooking a bad team. And if the Cardinals get out to a big lead, as expected, there will probably not be a whole lot of mercy, either.

“They understand just how important games are and we just are not in the position to waste an opportunity,” coach Charlie Strong said. “You only get so many. Let’s make sure we handle our business and take care of business.”

Before enjoying its second bye last week, Louisville took out the frustrations from its second-half collapse against Central Florida, routing South Florida 34-3 on Oct. 26 in Tampa. Aside from a few glitches in pass protection which got Bridgewater sacked three times, the Cardinals pretty much did whatever they wanted on both sides of the ball.

Strong has had little to complain about on offense or defense, except for the second half against UCF, which scored 31 points on Louisville to erase a 28-7 deficit. But for the second straight year, the kicking game has been worrisome.

While John Wallace has been reliable on placements and Charles Gaines has injected some life into the kickoff return team, the Cardinals have again covered kickoffs inconsistently. Those indiscretions might matter more next year in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“You’d like to play better on special teams; it’s all about field position,” Strong said. “It’s about changing the field position and that’s what you would like to see accomplished, which we need to go get better at.”

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NCAAF Team Report - Louisville - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

GAME BREAKDOWN

Scouting the running game: In his first start this year, Dominique Brown rushed for 125 yards on 18 carries at South Florida. Another big game could be in store for him as Connecticut is ranked 73rd in FBS against the run.

Scouting the passing game: The Huskies do few things well, but they are ranked 54th against the pass, their best rating statistically. But that might take a dip if QB Teddy Bridgewater gets enough time to find his talented receivers.

Scouting the run defense: Connecticut has a good running back in Lyle McCombs, who gashed the Cardinals for 143 yards in last year’s triple OT upset, but is averaging only 2.4 yards per carry as a team. Louisville is ranked second in FBS against the run.

Scouting the pass defense: The Cardinals will again get to face a backup QB as Tim Boyle has taken over for Chandler Whitmer. Boyle is completing just 42.7 percent of his passes and has a 0-5 TD-interception ratio, so this might be a big game for the secondary.

Scouting the special teams: Louisville continues to frustrate coach Charlie Strong with its inconsistent kickoff coverage, although it’s allowed just 14 punt return yards all year. Huskies PK Chad Christen, whose field goal beat the Cards last year, is just 8-of-13 on 3-pointers this season.