A short-term memory isn’t always a desirable trait, but in order to grow and move forward, it’s one the University of Louisville football team’s offense is adopting.
While the unit didn’t experience the success it’s achieved on a weekly basis under head coach Bobby Petrino, the Cardinals are ready to move forward and attack the 11 regular-season games that await and that begins with Saturday’s home opener against Indiana State.
“There’s tons still to play for,” co-offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway said. “It would have been huge to get that game (against Alabama) but this game is just as big. We want to come out, execute and get a W.”
Despite the season-opening loss, there were a number of bright spots that give the Cardinals optimism for the rest of the season.
Sophomore quarterback Jawon Pass, who was making his first start, completed 20-of-39 passes for 252 yards for a pair of scores and did a good job of spreading the football around to nine different receivers.
Despite some of the sold numbers, Pass was sacked three times and missed a few open throws because of the pressure that typically disturbs many young quarterbacks.
“They did a good job with a few blitzes, where Jawon thought it was a different coverage with the pressure that they brought, confused him a little bit,” Petrino said. “I thought he did a good job of competing, standing in the pocket, getting hit, and completing passes. Then he does what all quarterbacks have done at some point in their career, a lot of times it’s early, and when you’re young and inexperienced, you get your eyes down.”
Galloway, who has developed the wide receivers unit into one of the most threatening groups nationally, had a message for them after Saturday’s loss.
“I tell the guys, ‘Keep working hard if you want to play.’ That’s the thing we have to do this week,” Galloway said. “Go out and execute this week in practice. Go out and execute at a high-level Saturday night.”
Galloway noted the performances of redshirt senior Devante Peete, redshirt sophomore Keion Wakefield, and freshman Tutu Atwell, saying the three played fast while in the game against Alabama.
While the wide receivers didn’t produce their normal output, sophomore tight end Kemari Averett picked up the slack with a pair of touchdowns. He opened the scoring with a 12-yard touchdown and added an eight yarder in the fourth quarter.
“I worked hard every practice – never took a day off,” Averett said. “After practice, I’d get extra catches in.”
Teams on Louisville’s schedule should get used to the connection between Pass and Averett. In week one, Pass found Averett a career high four times for 40 yards. The 6-foot-6 tight end said the connection between he and Pass is strong on and off the field.
“We joke around. He’s like my brother,” Averett said. “We have a good relationship and bond.”
The Cardinals return home this weekend to open their newly renovated Cardinal Stadium. A two-year, $63.25 million expansion is finally complete, and Averett is anxious to play in the venue.
“I can’t wait to see myself on that screen in the end zone,” Averett added.
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