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November 29, 2005How much does Louisville's offense change without quarterback Brian Brohm? It's wait-and-see time on that one.
Brohm tore his anterior-cruciate ligament (ACL) and sustained a bone bruise and meniscus tear in Louisville's 41-17 win over Syracuse last week. The sophomore quarterback is out for the rest of this season.
UConn (5-5, 2-4 Big East) hosts the No. 16 Cardinals at 7:45 p.m. Saturday at Rentschler Field for a chance to become bowl eligible. The game will be televised by ESPN.
Louisville redshirt freshman Hunter Cantwell will start at quarterback. Not much is known about him since he's only thrown 11 passes all season, mostly in mop-up time.
"He looks like a pocket passer with a strong arm who's very accurate," UConn coach Randy Edsall said. "I don't think their offense will change that much."
Louisville running back Michael Bush, who has a bruised bone in his right foot, has not played the last two weeks and it is unsure if he will suit up against UConn. The Cardinals (8-2, 4-2) accepted an invitation Monday afternoon to play in the Gator Bowl.
George Stripling and Kolby Smith will play in the backfield if Bush cannot go this weekend. Stripling ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries last week and Smith had 96 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries.
Louisville's offense, with Brohm at quarterback and Bush in the backfield, is the best in the conference in many offensive categories.
The Cardinals are first in scoring offense (46.7 points per game), first in pass offense (303.6 ypg) and first in total offense (497.1 ypg). Louisville has also scored 53 out of 59 times it has been in the red zone this season.
Brohm is first in passing yards per game at 288.3 and first in total offense with 284.7 yards. Bush leads the league with 21 touchdowns, is first in the Big East with 146.6 all-purpose yards per game and is second in rushing yards with 116 per game.
UConn's defense ranks first in the Big East in pass defense and total defense.
The Cardinals, despite losing some firepower because of injuries, still have the capacity to score lots of points.
Wide receiver Joshua Tinch leads the Big East with 58 catches (three touchdowns) and Montrell Jones is fourth with 38 catches and has caught five touchdown passes. Mario Urrutia ranks third in the conference with almost 68 receiving yards per game and he has also caught five touchdown passes.
Now, it's up to Cantwell to deliver the ball to Louisville's playmakers.
UConn will almost definitely be without quarterback Matt Bonislawski, who re-injured his collarbone early in the second half against South Florida. The redshirt junior did not practice Monday.
The Huskies turn to redshirt freshman D.J. Hernandez, who took the snaps with the starters during Monday's practice. True freshman Dennis Brown is also an option.
Hernandez finished 4 of 8 passing for 31 yards and had 85 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries after Bonislawski went down (broken collarbone) in UConn's 26-7 win over Syracuse.
Hernandez, a redshirt freshman broke a bone in his non-throwing wrist the following week against Cincinnati. He finished 19 of 43 passing for 191 yards, two touchdowns and an interception against the Bearcats and was sacked six times.
Brown, who started the next two games, finished 18 of 35 passing for 196 yards, two touchdowns and he threw an interception in a 26-24 loss to Rutgers.
He was 10 of 19 for 97 yards and threw an interception as West Virginia beat UConn, 45-13. Brown was sacked seven times by the Mountaineers.
Adam Gorney covers UConn sports for Rivals.com and can be reached at email@example.com.