Pittsburgh, Louisville look to 'bounce back'
Wonder who feels worse today, Steve Kragthorpe or Dave Wannstedt?
On one hand, you have Kragthorpe. Already embattled as the Louisville coach, he watched his team get shut out offensively at home and get whipped 27-2 by Kentucky. He's now 0-2 in the rivalry, an unacceptable fact for Cardinals fans.
Then again, even the most optimistic Louisville supporters realized this program needed some rebuilding. Pittsburgh fans figured their construction project was complete and ready for business, and so did a lot of observers. The Panthers began the season ranked No. 25 in the country and had some people backing them as potential Big East champs.
Then Pittsburgh fell flat on its face at home against Bowling Green 27-17, going scoreless in the second half. To borrow a line from the Democratic convention, "That's not change. That's more of the same."
OK, so what's next for both teams? There's not much else to do but get back to work.
"We'll be fine," Wannstedt said Monday on the Big East coaches' teleconference. "We've got great character and leadership on this team. Everybody was down and disappointed yesterday, (and) I would have been very displeased if it wasn't that way. We'll bounce back."
Wannstedt said that from the way his team prepared in practice and meetings, he thought they would come out firing for the first game. But the offense couldn't generate anything and did not have a play longer than 17 yards.
"We did not play, especially on offense, with any kind of consistency," he said. "You'd like to think we'd make a few deep plays running it.
"Our O-line is relatively a new group. We know that and we've taken that into account. And our quarterback was playing his first full game of his career. But we've definitely got to score more than 17 points to beat anybody."
Wannstedt said he didn't plan any major lineup changes, though he'd like to get true freshman Lucas Nix in on the line and get true freshman wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin more involved.
At Louisville, Kragthorpe saw lots of breakdowns across the board when he watched the offensive tapes. Very simply, he said, the Cardinals have to be able to run the ball. They netted just 53 yards on the ground on Sunday against Kentucky.
Kragthorpe said he thought the mistakes were all correctable, and that Kentucky's defense had a lot to do with the problems. He'll show the tape to his players tonight, then the Cardinals will return to practice tomorrow with a short week to prepare for Tennessee Tech, which opened last Thursday with a win over Gardner Webb.
"This team will bounce back and this coaching staff will bounce back," Kragthorpe said. "You have to put it behind you, but you certainly don't forget it. If you forget this loss, you're not much of a man in my opinion. This should stick in your craw. But we have to use it as motivation."