LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville is going back to basics, and the Cardinals are doing it without their top receiver.
Coach Charlie Strong said Monday senior Doug Beaumont is out indefinitely with a knee injury sustained in a 35-28 loss to Oregon State on Sept. 18, a devastating blow to an offense that has struggled at times to move the ball.
"Doug does a lot for us," Strong said. "What's key is other guys got to step up. We have enough guys who have not been playing well, but need to do their job and guys understand that."
Beaumont leads the Cardinals (1-2) with 16 receptions and 244 yards and scored the first touchdown of his career in a win over Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 11. He had surgery last week and Strong put no timetable on Beaumont's return.
In his place Strong is hoping underperforming receivers Josh Bellamy and Andrell Smith and tight end Cameron Graham can fill the void left by Beaumont on Saturday when Louisville makes a rare road trip to Arkansas State (1-2).
The trio has combined for 254 yards receiving this season but has been chastised by Strong for making critical mistakes.
"Guys can improve and we need to improve," Strong said. "We need to be more consistent you see a lot of dropped balls and missed assignments."
The receivers are hardly the only ones making miscues. Strong said he's growing frustrated watching the Cardinals make the same simple mistakes. From missed tackles to fumbled balls to drive-killing penalties, Strong admitted that his team lacked a certain maturity needed to win on the collegiate level.
Strong pointed to the narrow loss at Oregon State as proof. The Cardinals outgained the Beavers 453-319 but missed out on a chance to pull off its biggest win in two years by twice turning the ball over deep in Oregon State territory.
The early off week, however, has allowed the Cardinals to regroup. Strong said the Cardinals will be improved when they make a rare road trip to Arkansas State (1-2) on Saturday.
Louisville will be the first team from a Bowl Championship Series conference to visit the Red Wolves. Strong admits it's telling of how far the Cardinals have fallen that they will serves as Arkansas State's homecoming opponent.
"Maybe that says something about us," Strong said.
"I think they expect to beat us," added defensive end William Savoy. "But we're going to be the best we can. They can beat us if we let them, but we're going to play well."
The Cardinals will have to play well if Louisville wants to end a nine-game road losing streak. Graham pointed to the team's solid offensive play against the Beavers that things are finally starting to click.
"We'll be hard to stop when everybody shows what we can do," Graham said. "We feel we're a good team. We just have to limit mistakes. As long as we come out with a victory that will be all that matters. A win this week will be big."