CRAWFORD | Familiarity breeds respect as Louisville visits No. 1 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Familiarity breeds respect as Louisville visits No. 11 Florida State

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — I don’t know about you, but for me, the best commentary available Saturday night when Miami visited Florida State was Louisville linebacker James Burgess’ Twitter timeline.

The Cardinals’ No. 2 tackler, from Homestead, Fla., was on a first-name basis with both rosters.

“Throw the ball to Herb (Homestead product Herb Waters of Miami) man!”

“Gotta give respect when it’s due!! (Dalvin) Cook is a monster!”

When Louisville (2-3) visits Florida State (5-0) on Saturday, there will be little concern about the unknown. U of L coach Bobby Petrino and many of his players have fond memories of the Sunshine State. Petrino has 22 Florida natives on his roster, including leading-tackler Keith Kelsey (Gainesville) and leading rusher and passer Lamar Jackson (Boynton Beach).

“We’re excited about it,” Petrino said. “I remember when we went and played down in Miami when I was here before, and our players look forward to it, get excited about it. We will play against guys they played against in high school and guys they know about. Kolby Smith is from right there in Tallahassee, and when I was an assistant that was my area, to be able to recruit both Kolby Smith and William Gay out of there, we know it’s great high school football. So it’ll be fun. We’ll have a lot of guys who have family there at the game. It’s always good to go play where you recruit.”

It’s also always good to have two weeks to prepare, especially coming off a win. Petrino had the added bonus of what probably figured as the biggest game of the year for most of his players to sharpen the focus of preparation.

“We know we've got a great challenge ahead of us going to Florida State and playing against a great football team,” Petrino said. “Obviously, our defense has a great challenge trying to stop a really, really good running back. I watched them on TV (vs. Miami) like you all probably did the other night and he's extremely fast, extremely powerful. A quarterback we're familiar with, a guy we played against last year. The one thing that he's done a great job this year is taking care of the football. And they've got good speed at the wide receiver and a great offensive line, so it's a great challenge for our defense. Offensively, we have to work on our execution and be able to establish a running game that the quarterback's not just carrying the ball. So that's what we worked hard on the last four practices, and I think our guys are getting better, no question about that. But I'm excited to see how it all plays out. It will be a fun game.”

Dalvin Cook carried 9 times for 112 yards against Louisville last season, including touchdowns of 40 and 38 yards. He also caught four passes for 40 yards, and has been even more dangerous this season, ranking second in the nation in rushing at 158.4 yards per game.

Asked what he likes about Cook, Petrino couldn’t find enough superlatives.

“The combination of strength and speed, he can catch the ball in his hands,” Petrino said. “He’s made a lot of plays in a lot of different ways. Running the ball and getting one-on-one and scoring, breaking tackles and scoring. Catching the ball out of the backfield. In the last two games he’s had two runs for over 90 yards for touchdowns. And he worries me as much for catching the ball out of the backfield and making plays that way. They like to do that. They probably haven’t done it as much this year as a year ago, but I do know that’s one of the things they like to do in their offense.”

Petrino said he came to U of L with the goal of making the Cardinals the fastest team in the ACC. But acknowledged that Florida State probably holds that title now.

The Cardinals know FSU quarterback Everett Golson well — they faced him last season when he was the starter at Notre Dame. Golson went 16 of 24 with an interception in that 31-28 Louisville victory, but Petrino said he’s improved since they last saw him.

“He's done a really nice job, like I said, taking care of the football,” Petrino said. “He hasn't turned it over and he's been very reliable making good decisions for them. He still utilizes his quickness and his ability to run and make plays, breaks tackles in the backfield. That's one of the things we're going have to do a good job of doing what we had to against N.C. State — being able to cage and wrap up the quarterback. That was one of our big concerns going in against N.C. State and I thought our defense did a really nice job of it. That helps to carry over and understand you're playing against another guy that can really run with the ball.”

Petrino will come into the game having had two weeks to tinker with his two-quarterback backfield approach with Lamar Jackson and Reggie Bonnafon. He said he’s worked with Jackson and the offense to get used to making plays in other ways than Jackson just taking off and running. And he says he’s hoping to get Bonnafon more touches.

“We just want to continue to do what we’ve been doing with Reggie,” Petrino said. “Have him catch the ball. Run with it. Throw it. He’s a big part of our offense and an unbelievable young man with a great attitude, who is out there helping everybody. We’ve got to continue to utilize him as a weapon and get him touches in all phases.”

The Cards and Seminoles are set for a noon tipoff Saturday, on ESPN.

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