LOUISVILLE — Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater called his play average.
Coach Charlie Strong called Saturday's game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium "a game that we can really correct."
A loss, or near upset?
Not on your life.
The eighth-ranked Cardinals (2-0) rolled to a 44-7 victory over Eastern Kentucky.
But the Colonels put up enough of a fight to cause Bridgewater, Strong and the rest of the Cardinals to give pause.
"There is a lot of disappointment because we felt like we didn't play up to our level," said Bridgewater, who completed 23 of 32 passes for 397 yards and four touchdowns. "We know that we left a lot of points on the field. We're chasing perfection, and today wasn't near perfection."
While Bridgewater was mostly on target, U of L's run game never got going.
EKU (1-1) held the Cards to 78 yards on 28 attempts.
"Offensively, there was never a rhythm. You win a game, and I just never felt like we were in total control," Strong said. "Defensively, we were able to create turnovers and get the ball, and get opportunities for our offense to take the ball down the field and go score. But we weren't able to move it in the run game. You like to be balanced on offense with the run and pass, and then (we) missed some throws in the first half.
"But (I) feel good about it. It's a game that we can really correct. It's really a good game for us to correct because now we can go back to work tomorrow ... and get ready for Kentucky."
There won't be much to correct on defense. The Cards had two takeaways and held EKU to 206 yards of total offense, 107 on the ground.
Middle linebacker Preston Brown led U of L with eight tackles, including two sacks.
"We want to get shutouts, and that's what we want to complete throughout the whole season," Brown said. "Hopefully we can go out next week and do the same type of stuff."
Despite concerns, U of L was in control from the get-go.
Bridgewater went 5-for-5 on a game-opening drive that culminated with his 8-yard touchdown toss to Damian Copeland.
A 19-yarder to DeVante Parker made it 14-0 through one quarter.
Senorise Perry's 5-yard TD run — set up by Calvin Pryor's interception — and a pair of John Wallace field goals made it 27-0 at halftime. Wallace's second field goal came after James Burgess recovered an EKU fumble.
Another field goal and an 11-yard touchdown on a Bridgewater-to-Gerald Christian pass increased the lead to 37-0 through three quarters.
The Colonels averted a shutout when Devin Borders hauled in a 15-yard Jared McClain pass with 12:45 left.
U of L answered a final time on a 42-yard pass from Bridgewater to Parker.
"I was really pleased with our rush defense; I was really pleased with our special teams," EKU Coach Dean Hood said. "We've got to improve turnovers. You can't turn the ball over against anybody, in particular a football team that's in the top 10 in the country, being as explosive as they are.
"They couldn't run the ball on us ... so that's really encouraging. Most people, when you stop the run and make them one-dimensional they don't have a Teddy Bridgewater to counter that. And if we wouldn't have turned the ball over and lost some field position with some penalties, it would have been a lot closer."
Parker was Bridgewater's most productive target, with five catches for 134 yards. Christian also had five catches, good for 74 yards.
EKU's McClain finished 8-for-13 for 85 yards. He also led the Colonels with 27 yards on 11 carries.
"We played a top-10 football team and they showed it," McClain said. "They had a great defense and, offensively, we put ourselves behind the chains. We'll just clean things up and get ready for next week."
Coastal Carolina at Eastern Ky.
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Louisville at Kentucky
When: Noon Saturday
No. 8 LOUISVILLE 44, Eastern Ky. 7
Eastern Ky. 0 0 0 7 — 7
Louisville 14 13 10 7 — 44
First quarter: Lou—Copeland 8 pass from Bridgewater (Wallace kick), 10:26. Lou—Parker 19 pass from Bridgewater (Wallace kick), 3:11. Second quarter: Lou—FG Wallace 35, 10:08. Lou—Perry 5 run (Wallace kick), 8:25. Lou—FG Wallace 39, 3:53. Third quarter: Lou—FG Wallace 22, 9:08. Lou—Christian 11 pass from Bridgewater (Wallace kick), 3:23. Fourth quarter: EKen—Borders 15 pass from McClain (Lloyd kick), 12:45. Lou—Parker 42 pass from Bridgewater (Wallace kick), 9:08.
RUSHING—Eastern Ky., McClain 11-27, T.Owens 5-26, Sanders 10-19, Watkins 5-14, Jude 7-10, De La Cruz 3-9, Lawson 1-2. Louisville, Perry 13-36, Dyer 7-22, Do.Brown 6-13, Gardner 1-8, Bridgewater 1-(minus 1).
PASSING—Eastern Ky., McClain 8-13-1-85, Romano 2-3-0-14. Louisville, Bridgewater 23-32-0-397, Gardner 0-2-0-0.
RECEIVING—Eastern Ky., Borders 3-32, Glover 2-35, Landing 2-16, T.Owens 1-9, Lawson 1-5, Watts 1-2. Louisville, Parker 5-134, Christian 5-74, R.Clark 4-24, E.Rogers 3-67, Copeland 3-32, Hubbell 1-37, Butler 1-17, De La Cruz 1-12.
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.