If Steve Kragthorpe is feeling any heat as his Louisville team prepares for Saturday's game at Kentucky, he's doing a boffo job of keeping it under wraps.
Coming off a 5-7 season, U of L opened this campaign with a sloppy 30-10 victory over lowly Indiana State. Kentucky blanked Miami (Ohio) 42-0.
Both the Cardinals and Wildcats had last week off, leaving extra time to prepare for the Governor's Cup showdown.
Kragthorpe is 0-2 against UK, falling 27-2 last season and suffering a last-minute 40-34 gut-wrencher in 2007.
"I wake up every night thinking about it," Kragthorpe said Monday during his weekly press conference. "It sticks in your craw, no doubt. ... I think that one will be one that will take me to my grave at some point in time. And I'll remember it while I'm in the grave."
Kragthorpe had praise all around for Saturday's opponent, and plenty of tongue-in-cheek reports on his team.
Now that backup quarterback Adam Froman has recovered from a shoulder strain, the coach was asked if there was a chance that Froman could start in place of Justin Burke.
"No. Justin will be the starter," Kragthorpe said. After a pause, he added: "But that's a good idea. Put that one out there for me — 'yeah, he's gonna start this week.' "
The top Card was just warming up.
How much of U of L's offensive package was revealed in the opener?
"We showed about 2 percent. Make sure Kentucky hears that. ... Ninety-eight percent's left," he said. "A lot more formations. A lot more trick plays. Two quarterbacks in the game at the same time; maybe three because (Will) Stein's got experience, too."
Victor Anderson, the Big East's Rookie of the Year last season, and Bilal Powell combined to run for 169 yards and three touchdowns against Indiana State. But what of much-heralded redshirt freshman Darius Ashley?
"We could play all three of those guys at the same time," Kragthorpe said. "We got a wishbone package this week. Just got off the phone with Coach (Barry) Switzer. We had a great conversation. I'm excited about that package we're gonna put in this week. Because Froman's back, too. He can run the option."
But, seriously, folks ...
Kragthorpe didn't tip his hand on much.
Kicker Tim Dougherty remains sidelined by injury. Ryan Payne, who went 3-for-4 on field-goal attempts against Indiana State, or Chris Philpott will start against UK.
Besides Froman, the offense will be bolstered by the return of tight end Pete Nochta, a senior out of Tates Creek High School who is coming back from off-season surgery.
Defensive tackles L.T. Walker and Joe Townsend, along with nose tackles Tyler Jessen and Tim High, are ready to go after missing the opener. Malcolm Mitchell and walk-on Drew Davis picked up valuable minutes in that game.
"It makes us a lot better," Kragthorpe said, "because we've got move guys that can play. ... We're gonna have to roll guys in and out of there a little bit because (UK is) gonna try to spread us out and create seams. Not only with the passing game, but they'll make us run sideline-to-sideline a little bit with their speed, with Derrick (Locke) and Randall (Cobb)."
Kragthorpe calls nearly all the Wildcats by their first names.
Quarterback Mike Hartline is "playing really confident," he said. Pass-run-catch threat Cobb is "tough to prepare for." Wide receiver Chris Matthews "made some plays down the field."
On defense, Trevard Lindley, Randall Burden, Paul Warford, Micah Johnson and Corey Peters all received oral bouquets from the coach.
As for U of L, the bye week was "very productive" in that the Cards were "making some corrections and starting to implement parts of the UK game plan for this week and for Saturday afternoon."
"Our guys are excited and they're excited to go over to Lexington," Kragthorpe said. "We talked about it as a team. This is one of those games — that's why you came to Louisville; that's why I came to Louisville. ... To play in a game like this on national television, on the road, in front of a great crowd."
Strong safety Chaz Thompson erred when he referred to Randall Cobb as "Ronald" Cobb, but Burke, the former Lexington Catholic standout, gets the quote of the day.
On playing in the hostile environment of Commonwealth Stadium — "You ask any football player, they love going into an environment like that. There is no better sound than silencing a crowd."