College Football

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    === Bridgewater and Cardinals set sights on Bobcats in season debut ===
 
 Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - The ninth-ranked Louisville Cardinals will
 be tested right away as they welcome the Ohio University Bobcats to Papa
 John's Stadium for their 2013 season opener.
 
 Ohio was on track to be a BCS buster in 2012 after it won its first seven
 games with impressive road victories at Penn State and Marshall highlighting
 the early season run. Coach Frank Solich's squad lost steam down the stretch,
 but it coasted to a 45-14 win over ULM in the Independence Bowl to arrive at a
 9-4 overall record. Including bowl games, the Bobcats have won nine of their
 last 10 non-conference contests.
 
 Charlie Strong ended his third season as Louisville's head coach with an
 astounding, 33-23, victory over the fourth-ranked Florida Gators in the Sugar
 Bowl. Louisville captured the last two Big East titles and will be looking to
 claim the American Athletic Conference crown this time around. The Cardinals
 have won their last six non-conference tilts.
 
 This is the first meeting between these schools on the football field since
 1959. They split the first four meetings.
 
 "I'd probably say it's the most focused team I've had because it's also a much
 older team," said Strong. "They understand that they really have to work now
 because the level of expectations has risen. They want to set the standard for
 the program and know how to manage those expectations."
 
 Louisville's junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is on many preseason awards
 watch lists, including the Heisman Trophy, after completing 68.5 percent of
 his pass attempts in 2012, throwing for 3,718 yards and 27 touchdowns against
 just eight interceptions. His 8.9 yards per pass average was the fourth
 highest among FBS players.
 
 Bridgewater does a great job of spreading the ball out to his receivers. Four
 different players made at least 40 catches for Louisville last season and all
 but one of them are back with the big play threat DeVante Parker (744 yards,
 10 TDs, 40 catches) highlighting the group. Damian Copeland is also a part of
 that unit as he led the team with 50 receptions for 628 yards.
 
 Senorise Perry, Dominique Brown and Auburn transfer Michael Dyer are all going
 to see time at tailback. Perry was Louisville's second-leading rusher (705
 yards) last season and was named the starter by Strong. He missed the last two
 games of 2012 with a torn ACL. Brown missed all of last year because of a knee
 injury sustained in spring practice as did Dyer, who sat out after compiling
 2,335 yards and 15 touchdowns during his two seasons at Auburn.
 
 The Cardinals were ranked in the top 25 in total defense last season with an
 average of 340.3 yards allowed per game. Preston Brown (109 tackles) was the
 leading tackler for Louisville last season and he will be back once again at
 middle linebacker. He thrived playing behind a defensive line that is bringing
 back all four starters, including defensive end Marcus Smith, who recorded
 four sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception as a junior.
 
 The defensive backfield is going to be tough as well with Hakeem Smith and
 Calvin Pryor manning the safety positions. Pryor finished with 100 tackles
 last season and forced a team-high five fumbles. Smith had 73 takedowns and
 seven passes defended.
 
 Tyler Tettleton has stood out as a leader at Ohio since he became the starter
 prior to the 2011 campaign. As a sophomore, he threw for 3,306 yards with 28
 touchdowns against 10 interceptions and took the Bobcats to within a field
 goal of winning the MAC Championship. His overall production was not as great
 due to the fact he missed one game with an abdominal injury and attempted 46
 less passes. Tettleton did cut down on his mistakes (18 TDs to four INTs) in
 2012.
 
 Beau Blankenship stole the show in Athens last season while starting at
 halfback, ranking 10th in the FBS and third in the MAC in rushing with 1,604
 yards and 15 touchdowns on 312 carries. He has a very reliable backup in Ryan
 Boykin.
 
 Ohio's leading receiver from a year ago, Donte Foster, is back after setting
 career-highs with 59 catches, 658 yards and eight touchdowns. Chase Cochran
 stood out in the bowl victory over ULM with three catches for 162 yards and a
 touchdown. He is going to be a key component of the offense as an upper
 classmen.
 
 "This is probably the deepest receiving corps that we've had since I've been
 here. We're bringing a lot of these young guys along, and they're really
 catching on, so that's great to see," Tettleton said. "We're really going to
 need that come MAC play and coming down the stretch."
 
 Although they were inconsistent, the Bobcats had the fourth best defensive
 unit statistically in 2012 with allowed averages of 388.4 yards of total
 offense and 24.8 points per game.  Keith Moore was the heart and soul of the
 defense last season with a team-best 98 total tackles, which is 28 more than
 anyone else on the roster registered. He will have just as much pressure on
 him to perform in his final tour of the MAC being one of just two returning
 starters on the defense.
 
 Ohio's front four is comprised of all newcomers but its secondary should be
 improved by senior cornerback Travis Carrie, who led the squad with four
 interceptions in 2011 before missing all of last season with an injury.
 
 Louisville's junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is on many preseason awards
 watch lists, including the Heisman Trophy, after completing 68.5 percent of
 his pass attempts in 2012, throwing for 3,718 yards and 27 touchdowns against
 just eight interceptions. His 8.9 yards per pass average was the fourth
 highest among FBS players.
 
 Bridgewater does a great job of spreading the ball out to his receivers. Four
 different players made at least 40 catches for Louisville last season and all
 but one of them are back with the big play threat DeVante Parker (744 yards,
 10 TDs, 40 catches) highlighting the group. Damian Copeland is also a part of
 that unit as he led the team with 50 receptions for 628 yards.
 
 Senorise Perry, Dominique Brown and Auburn transfer Michael Dyer are all going
 to see time at tailback. Perry was Louisville's second-leading rusher (705
 yards) last season and was named the starter by Strong. He missed the last two
 games of 2012 with a torn ACL. Brown missed all of last year because of a knee
 injury sustained in spring practice as did Dyer, who sat out after compiling
 2,335 yards and 15 touchdowns during his two seasons at Auburn.
 
 The Cardinals were ranked in the top 25 in total defense last season with an
 average of 340.3 yards allowed per game. Preston Brown (109 tackles) was the
 leading tackler for Louisville and he will be back once again at middle
 linebacker. He thrived playing behind a defensive line that is bringing back
 all four starters, including defensive end Marcus Smith, who recorded four
 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception as a junior.
 
 The defensive backfield is going to be tough as well with Hakeem Smith and
 Calvin Pryor manning the safety positions. Pryor finished with 100 tackles
 last season and forced a team-high five fumbles. Smith had 73 takedowns and
 seven passes defended.
 
 Pryor, Smith and the rest of the Cardinals will have their hands full as they
 try to stop Ohio's senior duo of Tettleton and Beau Blankenship.
 
 
 
 
 08/28 11:41:58 ET

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