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No. 17 Louisville seeks consistency, depth vs. Murray State

(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

By STEVE BITTENBENDER

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson hope to continue to build consistency with they take on Murray State in another non-conference game.

The 17th-ranked Cardinals bounced back from their 47-21 loss to No. 2 Clemson by stifling Kent State 42-3 last week. Jackson looked more like his old self with three touchdowns and 299 yards passing, while Louisville's defense held the Golden Flashes to 150 yards.

"I was really happy with the way our defense played," coach Bobby Petrino said. "It's fun to watch the video. They were very physical. They ran full speed to the ball. They did a good job on assignments."

Now, up next Saturday is FCS Murray State (1-3), which could start a true freshman at quarterback in Corey Newble.

The Racers lost 27-7 to Austin Peay at home last week in Ohio Valley Conference play and gained just 88 yards in the contest. Coach Mitch Stewart said this will be a big game for an offense trying to build confidence on offense but noted that Louisville presents "one of the best defenses that we'll ever face."

Newble has thrown three TD passes the past two games and has four overall.

Though the Cardinals are focused on beating the Racers, Petrino wants to avoid looking ahead to next week's visit to ACC rival North Carolina State. Louisville faces a short schedule before the nationally televised Thursday night game, making this week's practices especially important.

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Some other things to watch when Louisville hosts Murray State:

MATURING NEWCOMERS: Louisville has already played 11 true freshmen, the most Petrino has used in either stint with the Cardinals. "A major reason why so many freshmen have played is they have had up to a couple months of practice and conditioning time in the preseason," the coach said. "When we used to bring them in three days before the veterans got here, you got to coach them up and then basically when they (upperclassmen) got here you put them aside and said, `We'll see you in winter.'"

One player the coach liked in particular was running back Colin Wilson, whose 33 yards on just three carries in the second half were the most by a true freshman back in 11 years. He could get more work this weekend.

JACKSON MILESTONE: After breaking the school record for career touchdowns, Lamar Jackson could join an exclusive club. The junior needs 362 yards of offense against the Racers to become the seventh ACC player to reach 10,000 in his career. He ranks second nationally in total offense, averaging 431 yards per game.

SIDELINED: Louisville wide receiver Jaylen Smith will miss his second consecutive game with an injured wrist. Also out is cornerback Jaire Alexander, who has been recovering from an injured knee sustained in the season opener against Purdue.

RECENT HISTORY: Saturday's game will be the 20th meeting between the Kentucky schools. Louisville holds a 13-6 advantage and has won the last five series games, including 66-14 in 2014, Petrino's first season. The Racers last beat the Cardinals in 1984.

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Updated September 29, 2017

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