Cantwell looks ahead to first-ever start
Louisville quarterback Hunter Cantwell did not talk to the media this week. He did not pick up a newspaper, turn on local sports radio or read about himself on the Internet.
Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino told Cantwell Tuesday there were nearly 100 media requests for him this week, as the redshirt freshman takes over for Brian Brohm, who injured his knee last weekend against Syracuse.
Cantwell decided to decline the interviews. He was not being rude or brushing the media off. Cantwell, who listens to country music and is a member of Christian groups at Louisville, is just a humble kid who wants to go out and play a football game.
He will get his chance when UConn hosts No. 16 Louisville at 7:45 p.m Saturday at Rentschler Field. The game will be televised by ESPN. The Huskies must win to become bowl eligible. Louisville has already accepted an invitation to play in the Gator Bowl.
"If you were sitting with Hunter and having dinner at a restaurant, he would not even bring up that he was a football player," said his father, Tom Cantwell. "He doesn't get caught up in that kind of stuff. He won't even go buy a paper because he's afraid someone would see him at the newspaper rack. He's one of the most humble people I've ever been around."
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.
UConn (5-5, 2-4 Big East) does not have much film on Cantwell because he has not been on the field all that often. Coach Randy Edsall said UConn will game plan around what is available, read everything you can about him and go from there. Edsall said he does not think Louisville's offense will change much with the new quarterback.
"First thing he has to do is be able to handle the noise, the crowd, the communication from the sidelines to the huddle, to the tempo we like to play with," Petrino said. "He's very capable of throwing the ball and getting it on the receivers' hands. He's got a great release and he's very accurate."
Louisville running back Michael Bush, who missed two games with a bruised bone in his foot, is expected to play this week. Expect backups Kolby Smith and George Stripling to also see action in the backfield.
The Huskies are expected to start redshirt freshman quarterback D.J. Hernandez and true freshman Dennis Brown will be the backup this week.
Edsall said Matt Bonislawski is very doubtful heading into Saturday night's contest. The redshirt junior, who re-injured his collarbone against South Florida, has not done any throwing this week.
Hernandez has completed 28 of 58 passes this season for 260 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in six games. Brown is 28-for-54 passing for 293 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Bonislawski re-injured his collarbone in the second half of last weekend's 15-10 UConn win, which put the Huskies in a position this week to become bowl eligible.
Mostly sunny skies are expected at Rentschler Field Saturday evening and the temperatures will dip into the low 30s. Weather reports say that it will be 31 degrees at 9 p.m., and it should feel like 24 degrees.
A limited amount of tickets have been made available and are now on sale for the UConn-Louisville game.
There are about 1,000 tickets that remain unsold after Louisville returned extra seats from its allotment earlier this week. The available tickets are all $25 apiece.
Tickets are available at TicketMaster.com, by calling 1-860-525-4500 or 1-203-624-0033, at any TicketMaster location, and at the UConn Athletic Ticket Office in Storrs.
Adam Gorney covers UConn sports for Rivals.com and can be reached at email@example.com.