Louisville (WDRB) --"A major test this week. When you look at our schedule, all games are big games, but let's face it, some games are bigger than others. Some carry a little more significance than others and this is one of those games."
With that Charlie Strong opened the war of words as the Governor's Cup game week officially kicked off. The U of L coach continued his opening statement, "Not only is it a rival game but it is our first road test. We are going to an environment where the offense just had a game with over 650 total yards, 400 yards passing and 260 rushing. A very balanced offense, up tempo, can create issues if you do not get line up and can't handle the speed. Handling their speed is going to be critical for us on defense. Defensively, they are very aggressive."
Meanwhile, at about the same time in Lexington, Mark Stoops had this to say about his first Governor's Cup matchup. "Well, like I said early on, we know it's important. It's very important to myself, this team, our program, the fans, and everybody. It's very important. But we'll be in a lot of big games here, we hope. As we improve this program and keep on making those steps and getting better and better, we'll be in a lot of big games in the SEC."
Kentucky leads the overall series 14-11 over the Cardinals. and they've got an 8-7 advantage in Lexington, although U of L has won the last two in the series. Kentucky evened its record with a confidence-building 41-7 win over Miami University of Ohio. The Wildcats outgained the Redhawks 675-122 on Saturday. U of L got its second straight one-sided win, 44-7 over Eastern Kentucky. But it was a win that left Charlie Strong wanting more.
"You would have liked to play a lot better. We played well and we won the football game. We would have liked to play a lot better than we did. The standards have been raised," the coach continued. "The players understand now. In previous years, when you talked to them about improving, they really did not get it or understand it but now they do. When you show them the tape now they know when they played bad. Defensively, we had opportunities where we had our hands on the ball and we could have picked the one. Then we could have went down and scored another touchdown. Then the kicking game didn't play well. Guys understand that now."
Stoops says it will take continued improvement for his team to pull off the upset.
"I think it's going to take a complete game. They're a very good team. They're a top-10 team for a reason, and we'll need to play good on all three sides to win these games. To beat quality teams, you have to play good in all areas. Yeah, I think that's what it will take.
I think execution ‑‑ and part of our offense is that. Execute, execute, and then get a big play. And the same thing defensively, we need to be much better than we were in week one, for instance, at the basics. You know, and then we have to have our change‑ups and all that, but we just have to be better at the basics of the game, and that's position on the football, tackling, all the things we've talked about."
Kickoff is Noon Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.
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