Inside Cardinal Football: Weekly notebook

Senorise Perry

The University of Louisville football program is one of six undefeated teams in the country at 9-0 heading into Saturday's game at Syracuse. Here's are a few notes about things surrounding the U of L program.

KICKOFF COVERAGE STILL A PROBLEM

With an undefeated record, there's been a ton of positives so far this season for the University of Louisville football team.

But kickoff coverage hasn't been one.

The Cardinals have struggled covering kicks for much of the season and gave up a 93-yard touchdown on The Opening kickoff last week to Temple's Matt Brown.

"A lot of it comes down to what goes on with ball placement," special teams coordinator Kenny Carter said. "For various reasons, we haven't gotten a lot of nonreturnable kicks compared to other people."

Carter said the Cardinals have "made a change" that he figures will help improve the coverage for the rest of the season. He wouldn't divulge the change because of game preparation but called it a "solve."

U of L averages just 35.1 yards net on kickoffs and according to cfbstats.com the Cardinals have allowed 12 returns of more than 30 yards and five of 40 or more. U of L ranks last among the 124 FBS teams for the 30-yard gain and 120th for 40.

"We have to do a better job and we will," Carter said. "After the (TD return) they had one (good) return but the rest we pinned them in there."

One change last week after the kickoff return was putting several new guys onto the kickoff coverage team, including standout running back Senorise Perry and back up running back Corvin Lamb.

Carter said Perry teamed with Josh Bellamy, who was a senior last season, for around 90 percent of the tackles on kick offs a year ago.

"(Perry) he's an unselfish person," Carter said. "He was the best special teams person last year. We used him in different phases throughout the year. It was a no brainer for him (to want to be back on the team)."

OFFENSE WITH A LOT OF ‘CLEAN' FOOTBALL

U of L offensive coordinator Shawn Watson was extremely pleased with the effort his bunch showed last week against Temple.

The Cardinals had 508 yards and averaged 7.8 yards per play.

"We had a lot of clean football," Watson said. "I really like the way we have grown. Everything we have asked them to do, they have done it."

Watson said the key players have been "playing great" but noted it's other role players that have also stepped up. He mentioned Jarrett Davis, who had three catches for 20 yards, including an 18-yard reception against the Owls.

"We have had some guys who have had to step up, and then we have had some guys who when they are called upon, they've made significant plays," Watson said. "Jarrett Davis made a significant play. He's a guy, when called on, can do it."

BIG PLAYS ON OFFENSE

Its no surprise the offense is making big plays, offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said the Cardinals practice those situations.

The Cardinals have seven plays of 50-plsu yards this season, including six on passing situations. Three of those came against Cincinnati and another last week against Temple. U of L now has 41 plays of 20-plus yards this season.

"We do practice that," Watson said. "We believe in pushing the ball down the field and taking deep shots. We have a quarterback that can do that and understands that part of the game and the receivers that have the skill set and that understand the spacing aspect and how trying to target ourselves.

"Plus, our offensive line has been great in those protections schemes."

TWO POTENTIAL 1,000-YARD RUSHERS

Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright have been a potent two-man tandem out of the backfield this season for the Cardinals.

The backs have been so solid there's a chance the Cardinals could end up having a pair of 1,000-yard rushers before season's end.

Perry has carried 134 times for 703 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Wright has carried 138 yards for 651 yards and nine TDs.

"I am so excited for them," running backs coach Kenny Carter said. "They worked their butts off to do everything they needed to do.

"They're both doing a great job for us."

HIGH PRAISE FOR CHARLIE STRONG

Former NFL coach and current commentator Tony Dungy had some high praise for his friend, U of L coach Charlie Strong, earlier this week.

Dungy tweeted about Strong and the job he's doing at U of L saying:

"Overlooked in college FB is the job Charlie Strong has done at Louisville. Good chance to end the season 12-0. Cardinals having a great year."

Strong, who said he talked to Dungy before accepting the U of L job and has known him for a long time, said it was a great compliment.

"I respect Tony Dungy and everything about him," Strong said. " For him to say something about me, it speaks volumes coming from him."

CLEAR WEATHER FOR A CHANGE

For the first time in a while, the Cardinals won't have to worry about the weather with the Syracuse game in the Carrier Dome.

It has rained before or during – or at least has been a threat - in six of the first nine games of the season.

"It's nice to be able to go inside and play where we don't have to worry about conditions," Watson said. "In the back of my mine, I'm always concerned about passing game when it's raining.

"But this week, we won't have to worry about that. All we have to be concerned with is a good defense. These guys do a very good job."

FROSH ON THE LINE IMPROVING

Freshman offensive lineman Nacho Garcia has now played in three games and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said "he's coming along."

The 6-foot-5, 345-pound Garcia has come in some at left tackle .

"Nacho just needs to keep developing and keep going," Watson said. "Technically and fundamentally, he has to keep growing.

"He has a lot of ability and potential."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

U of L offensive coordinator Shawn Watson on the offensive productions:

"We said we were going to relentlessly chase perfection and the guys have done that and a long the way we are finding our way to some excellence."

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