CRAWFORD | What can Brown do for U of L? Carry the load in win o - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | What can Brown do for U of L? Carry the load in win over Miami

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AP photo. AP photo.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville running back Dominique Brown sat in a team meeting room after carrying the ball 33 times for 143 yards in the Cardinals' 31-13 win over Miami, his right foot immobilized in an orthopedic boot.

What's wrong with it? I asked a team spokesperson.

"Nothing," he said. "He's been limping around for a week and a half. Just a precaution or something."

Whatever it is, it didn't slow Brown down against Miami. Hanging onto a 14-13 lead in the third quarter, Brown stepped up to steady the ship -- but that only happened after an interesting sideline conversation with U of L coach Bobby Petrino.

"We struggled at times with throwing the ball, and I think the offensive line got frustrated, and they were like we need to run the ball," Brown said. "So they told me to go tell Petrino. All five of them wanted to go tell them as well, but I went and said something, and he turned and said, 'Get them ready, because we're going to run it.'"

And run it they did. Petrino and staff have covered the slogans and charts on the walls of their offensive meeting room with black shades. But you don't need X-ray vision to know the one offensive slogan that means the most: "Run to win."

They run a drill at the end of Thursday practices that they have named, "Run to Win," designed to kill the will of the defense late in the game and exert the Cardinals' control.

"It's all over our meeting room," Brown said.

After taking over at its own 49, Brown carried it on three of the next six plays, including a 15-yard touchdown run that put the Cards up 21-13. Then, up 24-13, U of L got the ball with 9:30 left on the clock and Brown got the ball on five out of the first six plays, running for 22 net yards. After a short breather, he came back in and got four more handoffs, taking U of L from the Miami 26-yard line down to the 10 to set up the final touchdown.

"It's great when you have that relationship with the coaches that you can give them the feedback and let them know what you want to do and they listen to the players," Brown said.

In all, Brown carried 20 times for 95 yards in the second half. It's even more impressive when you consider the Cards ran just 35 plays in the half.

"He came to me and said, 'Keep giving me the ball, coach, and I'll find way to get it in the end zone,'" Petrino said. "And I respect that. And he certainly did. He's tough and big and physical."

Brown said he wasn't sure what running back Michael Dyer's status was all week. He said the training staff didn't really relay that to the other running backs, but he didn't worry about  it. He said he knew the Cards were going to run the ball plenty.

"He like his running backs," Brown said of Petrino. "When they think of Petrino offense, they think you're going to pass the ball, but we learned in the second half today that we're going to run the ball. Once we get in that rhythm, we just keep feeding it."

Still, who thought Brown would be fed that much? Thirty-three carries? It was the most carries by a U of L player since Darius Ashley carried it 33 times in 2009, and ties for the ninth-most in program history. When asked after the game if he thought that number was too many, Petrino responded, "It was right where we wanted it tonight. He's a little worn out. But he really, really played well for us tonight."

If you're familiar with Petrino's first stint at Louisville, you've seen plenty of drives like the 7 1/2-minute grind the Cards put on Miami last night.

"It's great to be able to finish a game like that," Petrino said. "We always talk to our offensive line about run to win. So (running backs) Coach K (Chris Klenakis) was on the sideline in the fourth quarter talking about it, 'run to win, run to win,' and it was great to do that."

If you'd told Brown before the game he was going to get it that, much, he said, "I probably wouldn't have believed it, with the kind of backs we've got on the team. But I got into kind of a rhythm, and coach Petrino was behind me and coach K was behind me, and the offensive line was doing a great job and the receivers were blocking and (quarterback) Will (Gardner) was making the right decisions, and everybody kept on saying, give me the ball. I was surprised. But it was a great feeling. I gave (Petrino) the repeat signal, and he said back to me, say out there."

The result was one of the biggest wins in program history, in front of the largest crowd in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium history, in their first game in the ACC, in front of a national television audience. Petrino acknowledged after the game, the stakes were high.

"It was just a big, nationally televised game," Petrino said. ". . . We need to get other guys involved, but it's always hard to do that with so much at stake. I was actually talking to the TV crew yesterday and said after my first game here the last time Michael Bush was really mad at me that he didn't get involved more in that first game. I made sure the second game that he got over that right away."

In this one, Brown helped the Cardinals get through a few offensive jitters early, and delivered some punishing runs late.

Run to win. It's not just a slogan.

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