LOUISVILLE — Louisville Coach Charlie Strong has been confused about his team's bipolar personality through the first two games of the season.
Against rival Kentucky in the season opener, Louisville was sloppy for the first half of the game, but then came alive in the second half of a 23-16 loss.
Against Eastern Kentucky a week later, Louisville ripped off 23 points in the second quarter but failed to muster much of anything in the second half of a 23-13 victory.
Now the road gets significantly tougher. The Cardinals (1-1) play at 25th-ranked Oregon State (0-1) on Saturday, and Strong said he hopes his team will get closer to forging a true identity. He's optimistic it's the identity of a team that plays consistently for four quarters.
"We just have to put together a 60-minute game," Strong said. "We have to be consistent."
Thirty-minute games haven't been much of a problem. Strong said he was pleased at the effort his team showed early on both offense and defense against the Colonels as it raced to a 23-0 halftime lead.
Louisville's momentum stalled over the final two quarters. Eastern Kentucky outgained the Cardinals in the second half and made things more interesting than Strong would have preferred.
"We started turning the ball over and couldn't move the football," Strong said. "We couldn't maintain drives. We need to learn to play a complete ball game."
The Cardinals will have to if they hold any hope of ending a nine-game road losing streak. Louisville hasn't won away from Cardinals Stadium since beating Memphis in 2008 and hasn't knocked off a ranked opponent on the road since toppling Cincinnati in 2007.
Among the lessons Strong said he is teaching this week in practice is how to keep rhythm in the offense. He is also hoping to develop wide receiver Josh Bellamy in order for him to be a more viable threat on offense. Bellamy has received criticism from Strong after dropping eight passes through two games.
Strong said his team will also have to prepare to contend with Oregon State's sensational running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who leads a potent attack capable of putting up points in a hurry.
"More than anything they have a veteran coach and a veteran team, they're quick and have a lot of speed and are a consistent as a team in all of these things," Strong said. "You just hope they don't run by you."
Still, Strong believes his side can prevail, counting on the efforts of Louisville's defense to contain Oregon States playmakers and not give an energized crowd anything to cheer for.
"When (Oregon State is) at home they really feed off the crowd," said quarterback Adam Froman. "We've got to have great composure. We need to go in and ride the highs and lows of the game."
Froman said he expects one of the most difficult playing environments he's ever seen. The game will be the home opener for Oregon State (0-1) after a bye week and a nationally televised loss to fourth-ranked TCU to start the season.
"We got to come out and score and get that fast start we had (against Eastern Kentucky)," Froman said. "We got to focus on keeping the intensity up ... They think they're going to win the game and we need to go in and show them otherwise."