Holgorsen knows Strong's reputation, though.
"Well, Coach Strong has been widely regarded as one of the better defensive coordinators in the country for the last two decades,'' Holgorsen said. "He's been at a lot of good places. I've never faced him, but have watched from afar when he was at Notre Dame and South Carolina and Florida and putting really good defenses out there. So it's not surprising he's doing the same thing at Louisville.
"You look at their players and their bodies look good to me. They're big and physical and they've got speed, as well. The scheme is good, they're well coached and they've got players. So it's not surprising to see them hold people to what they've been holding them to.''
Holgorsen wasn't around, but West Virginia's offense struggled last year with Louisville, gaining just 261 yards in 17-10 win. Even for a mediocre offense, that was the second-lowest total of the season. Only LSU held the Mountaineers to less.
"We are a pressure defense and our players understand that,'' Strong said. "It's all about disrupting the rhythm of an offense. If you can do that on defense then you'll be able to set the tempo. We like to set the tempo of the game with our defense, and that comes from just stopping the run and eliminating the big plays.''
The one thing Louisville's defense hasn't faced yet, though, is a top-flight passing offense. The highest-rated quarterback (in terms of passing yards) the Cardinals have defended was North Carolina first-year starter Bryn Renner, and he completed a modest 12-of-18 passes for 178 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.
That's usually not even one half of a game's work for Smith.
"He is a problem himself because he does a good job of throwing the ball and his feet get him out of trouble,'' Strong said. "Any time pressure comes he has good enough feet where he can outrun you and get outside with the football. And then he can either take it downfield and run it himself or he can throw it downfield.''
For the second time this season, ESPN has exercised a six-day window on the decision, which means the network (ABC, ESPN or ESPN2) and the start time won't come until at least late Saturday night or Sunday.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.