Teams: UConn vs. Louisville What: Regular-Season Finale Where: Rentschler Field When: Saturday, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
Notes on UConn: Redshirt freshman D.J. Hernandez is expected to start at quarterback for the Huskies (5-5, 2-4 Big East), who must win to become bowl eligible. True freshman Dennis Brown will be the second-string quarterback.
Coach Randy Edsall said Thursday that Matt Bonislawski is very doubtful this week and has not been throwing at all in practice after re-injuring his collarbone early in the second half of UConn's 15-10 win last weekend over South Florida.
Lou Allen finished with 101 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries last week. Expect to see a little more of Terry Caulley in the backfield in tonight's game, but Allen and Cornell Brockington should also see action.
Senior offensive lineman Grant Preston is nursing an ankle injury and senior linebacker Taurien Sowell's ankle is not 100 percent, but both are expected to play in their final game at Rentschler Field.
Edsall opened up the punting competition this week after Chris Pavasaris had a shaky performance last week against South Florida. As of Thursday, it was too close to call between Pavasaris and Shane Hussar.
The Huskies rank fourth in pass defense and sixth in total defense and allow only 218 yards per game.
Notes on Louisville: Redshirt freshman Hunter Cantwell will start at quarterback, replacing Brian Brohm who is out for the rest of the season with a torn anterior-cruciate ligament (ACL).
Cantwell has seen action in six games this season, mostly in mop-up time, and has completed 8 of his 11 passes. He is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and is more of a drop-back passer, but can also run well when he is flushed out of the pocket.
Running back Michael Bush, who missed the last two games with a bruised bone in his foot, is expected to play tonight. Bush has rushed for 928 yards and 20 touchdowns on 164 carries this season.
Also expect to see Kolby Smith and George Stripling in Louisville's backfield. Smith had 96 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries and Stripling finished with 137 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries in Louisville's 41-17 win over Syracuse last weekend.
Joshua Tinch leads Louisville, which has already accepted an invitation to the Gator Bowl, with 58 catches for 718 yards and three touchdowns. Montrell Jones has 38 catches for 534 yards and five scores.
Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said in published reports today that wide receiver Mario Urrutia had his best week of practice leading up to the UConn game and that the Cardinals offense is not going to pack it in against the Huskies.
Cantwell can throw deep and Petrino said Louisville's offense will not change much with the redshirt freshman under center. Don't expect to see Louisville (8-2, 4-2) hand the ball off to Bush, Smith or Stripling without mixing it up in the passing game.
Louisville's offensive line is led by 6-foot-4, 301-pound senior Travis Leffew and 6-foot-4, 308-pound senior Jason Spitz. Jeremy Darveau is a big boy at 6-foot-7 and 321 pounds, but Kurt Quarterman is even bigger at 6-foot-5 and 348 pounds.
Louisville is averaging 46.7 points per game and the Cardinals defense is giving up 23 points per contest. Opponents are averaging just under three yards per rush against the Louisville defense.
Senior Elvis Dumervil is arguably the best defensive end in the country. He has 61 tackles (23 for loss) this season and has recorded 20 sacks. Dumervil has also forced 11 fumbles and has one interception.
Defensive lineman Montavious Stanley has 5.5 sacks this season and 45 tackles (10 for loss). Linebacker Brandon Johnson is second on the team with 53 tackles (two sacks) and linebacker Nate Harris has 49 tackles and two sacks.
Place kicker Art Carmody is 12 of 14 this season kicking field goals and is 5-for-5 from 40-49 yards. Todd Flannery has punted 25 times this season and averages just over 40 yards per punt.
South Florida defeated Louisville, 45-14, on September 24 and the Cardinals dropped a triple-overtime thriller to West Virginia, 46-44, on October 15. Louisville has out-scored its last four opponents, 185-64, with wins over Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Syracuse.
The Cardinals have scored 60-plus points three times this season with wins over Oregon State (63-27), Florida Atlantic (61-10) and North Carolina (69-14).
Adam Gorney covers UConn sports for Rivals.com and can be reached at [email protected].