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Playing Your Cards Right: Louisville Q&A

It was tough coming up with a good pun for this one, so just click.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Curious as to what the other side has to say about tonight's heavyweight matchup? OTB reached out to SB Nation's own Card Chronicle for the opponent's point of view. Read on to find out what a Cardinal fan has to say:

Q: The final Thursday night Rutgers-Louisville matchup is here. Teddy Bridgewater has absolutely crushed the competition thus far, though admittedly, the competition hasn't been very good. Do you expect him to continue this performance against tougher teams in the American?

Card Chronicle: I do, just because Teddy's success haven't been the product of weak competition, a fact last year's Florida team and the 28 scouts who will be at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium Thursday night can vouch for. He did have a little bit of trouble without DeVante Parker in the second half last weekend, and if Parker is unable to go against Rutgers, obviously that's a somewhat of a concern. But Teddy's that rare breed of quarterback who can consistently throw guys open. As long as he has a little bit of time and his receiver can generate a little bit of space, he's going to have success.

Q: One of Bridgewater's favorite targets, DeVante Parker, was injured in the game against Temple. If he is unable to go on Thursday, who can we expect to fill his shoes?

CC: The good news is that this is almost certainly the deepest receiving corps in the history of Louisville football. Fellow starters Damian Copeland and Eli Rogers were actually No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on the team in receptions last season, so obviously the first thing the offense will look for is them to step their games up to an even higher level. Kai DeLa Cruz has assumed a much larger role this season, and Michaelee Harris - who was one of the highest-rated receivers to ever commit to U of L but has suffered a slew of knee injuries since his freshman season - received a large number of snaps after Parker went down last Saturday. Tight end Gerald Christian has also been phenomenal in recent weeks.

As for guys you may be less familiar with, Tennessee transfer Matt Milton has hardly played at all this season, but he's 6'5 and could be the guy OC Shawn Watson turns to for jump balls in the endzone if Parker is sidelined. The other guy Louisville fans are dying to see is true freshman James Quick. He's a local kid who was the MVP of the Army All-American Game and one of the highest-rated recruits Louisville's ever landed, but he's hardly seen any time this season, which has surprised just about everyone. If he gets a chance early and makes a big play, expect the stadium to explode.

Q. The quarterback position gets all of the attention for Louisville, but what can Rutgers expect from the running game this year? Is it simply a one-man show for the Cardinals?

CC: It's actually the exact opposite. Though the coaching staff has consistently talked about waiting for one back to emerge, they've stuck with the "three-headed monster" of Senorise Perry, Dominique Brown and Michael Dyer through the first half of the season.

Perry was Louisville's leading rusher last season before going down late in the year with an ACL tear, and he's been the starter for three of U of L's five games so far. He leads the team in attempts (54) yards (298) and touchdowns (4), although he has the lowest average yards per carry (5.5) of the three. Still, he's the biggest home run threat the Cards have in the backfield.

Brown is the biggest back of the three, but he's looked a lot leaner and quicker this year than the least time Louisville fans saw him (in 2011 before he also went down with a knee injury). He's been used primarily in short-yardage situations, but ironically has Louisville's two longest runs of the season.

You probably are at least somewhat familiar with Michael Dyer's story. He was the MVP of the BCS national title game for Auburn before getting into trouble both there and at Arkansas State. He's behaved since arriving at U of L over the summer, and has 205 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries. He started U of L's games against Kentucky and FIU, but was the third back to receive a touch last week against Temple.

Q: Bridgewater recently said "both teams, both schools, hate each other." I know Rutgers fans had this game circled as soon as the schedule was announced. Do Cardinals fans share in the respected hate?

CC: I think there's definitely a "respectful hatred" just because of all the memorable moments the pair has shared since Louisville joined the Big East almost a decade ago. I mean Rutgers ruined what may be the best shot the Cardinals ever have to play for a national championship. That alone is enough to spark at least somewhat of a rivalry. But then you also have U of L narrowly bettering RU for BCS bids both that year and last season, the Cards getting bowl eligible on Thanksgiving weekend in Piscataway during Strong's first season, and the Scarlet Knights dealing Louisville arguably the most embarrassing moment of the Kragthorpe era - which is saying something.
Both programs have been successful, for the most part, since becoming conference brethren, and they've played some great, great games. That's what accounts for all the emotions.

Q: Is anything less than 12-0 unacceptable to Cardinals fans?

CC: You'd hate to think that could ever be the case, but I believe it's gotten to that point. We all knew the schedule was bad heading into the season, but it's even worse than anyone was forecasting over the summer. Louisville's opponents have done the Cards zero favors with their performances up to this point, a fact everyone around here is tired of hearing about. As it stands right now, U of L is going to play zero ranked teams and will almost certainly be double-digit favorites in all 12 of their games.

Perfection as the standard in any situation seems over-the-top, but at the moment, I think that's where the fan base is. Now if Louisville goes 11-1 and then beats someone really good in a BCS bowl, I think folks will still view the season as a success.

Q: Do you have a prediction for the final score?

CC: Contrary to the beliefs of many people around here, I think Rutgers can score on Louisville....I just don't think they can score as much as Louisville can score on Rutgers. I'm going with the Cardinals, 45-27.

So there you have it. A big thank you to Mike Rutherford of Card Chronicle for his collaboration on this piece. For more info on Louisville and a game preview of Rutgers-Louisville, click here.