The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

November 17, 2010

Louisville no pushover for WVU

MORGANTOWN — As they say, different strokes for different folks, and it doesn’t matter really what you are specifically talking about. It could be golf or politics, tennis or business.

Life, you see, is not a one-size fits all deal and that is what makes it so interesting.

Bobby Petrino can take a Louisville football team and turn it into a Top 10 program. Right place, right time, right guy.

Steve Kragthorpe replaced him and saw the program crumble. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong guy.

Now Charlie Strong is in his first season as Louisville coach, a man in possession of a high level coaching pedigree that includes stops at Florida under Urban Meyer, South Carolina under Steve Spurrier, Notre Dame under Lou Holtz, three coaches who have won national championships.

As his first year moves toward a conclusion and he readies his team to face West Virginia this week in a game that means nothing less than world peace to both teams — Louisville looking to become bowl eligible and WVU looking to gain at least a share of the Big East Conference championship — Strong seems to be the right guy in the right place at the right time.

He has taken Kragthorpe’s talent and turned it into a team to be reckoned with, a team that leads the Big East in points scored and that is showing flashes of developing a defense that is capable of almost anything, like shutting out a Connecticut team that has beaten both Pitt and West Virginia.

“This is an explosive offense. They can score from anywhere,” Stewart said.

If, when you played against Kragthorpe’s Louisville you felt you were supposed to win, this may not be the case now. This is especially true with the Mountaineers going into a sold out Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

WVU has not been a good road team this year. Its first road game was at Marshall and if the Mountaineers did come away with a victory, it wasn’t because they did anything but have two drives at the very end of the game, hit a two-point conversion with 12 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and then win when a makeable field goal was missed.

And that Marshall team was not to be confused with a good team.

West Virginia went then to LSU and lost, although playing well, and then went to Connecticut and lost, not playing well. In fact, for those who would argue they could be 2-1 away from home with any luck at LSU you could just as easily argue with a touch of bad luck at Marshall they could be 0-3.

Now they walk into Louisville against a team that can really score points and has a lot to prove, a team coming back from a tough lost in overtime to South Florida.

“Guys get a chance to go out and prove themselves every week. We still have two games to play,” Strong noted on the Big East Conference call Monday.

It won’t be easy for Louisville, for as explosive as its offense is, it is facing the nation’s No. 4 defense, the only team that has not allowed more than 21 points all season.

But Louisville has some weapons, a couple of big strong quarterbacks in Adam Foromn and Justin Burke, three solid receivers in Doug Beaumont, Cameron Graham and Josh Bellamy and one of the nation’s best rushes in Bilal Powell, now joined by a healthy Victor Anderson, also a threat.

Powell is much like WVU’s Noel Devine in that he is a quiet hero, one who would rather rack up the yardage than the verbage.

“You don’t have to have a voice,” Strong said. “Your action is out of the field and how you carry yourself. He’s been a model citizen.”

He hasn’t been a bad runner, either, as 1,207 yards and nine touchdowns attest. By comparison Devine has 770 yards and five touchdowns.

While Strong inherited him, he eagerly installed him as team leader.

“I had a chance to recruit him out of high school while at Florida. They were playing a playoff game against a team we got five guys off of. I told him I saw you that night,” he explained.

He certainly has Stewart’s attention, especially running out of the “Wildcat”.

“He looks like the heartbeat of that offense,” Stewart said.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com.

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