MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia won't play a younger team during the regular season than the one it welcomes to Mountaineer Field on Saturday.
Louisville started the season ranked second on the most-inexperienced team list in major college football, ahead only of defending national champion Auburn.
The Cardinals have started 11 freshmen and given 26 players their first game experience this season.
There are 15 true or redshirt freshmen in the two-deep on offense and defense. Four are listed as starters on offense and three are listed as starters on defense.
That's not necessarily an inviting set of circumstances for Dana Holgorsen, coach of the No. 24 Mountaineers, who play host to the Cardinals at noon (Big East Network telecast).
"The thing that's frightening about freshmen is they get better," Holgorsen said.
The Cardinals (4-4, 2-1) have the Big East's best defense and have only recently started to improve their offense.
Seven starters returned to the Louisville defense this season while just four starters came back on offense.
The offense starts freshmen at quarterback and receiver and on the offensive line, but they've been good for the Cardinals.
"All their key guys, from their quarterback to the guys he's throwing it to, are developing more and more timing than they had earlier in the year," Holgorsen said. "They're a deeper football team than we are. They play more people than we do, which, due to the fact they're young and they're playing a lot, means they're probably going to get better."
It's a sudden change for the Cardinals, who still make young mistakes.
Louisville is No. 119 out of 120 FBS teams in penalties per game (8.5) and No. 109 in red zone offense (12-for-17, eight touchdowns). They're still also No. 113 in scoring offense (17.63 points per game) and No. 103 in total offense (329.38 yards per game).
Louisville hasn't scored more than 24 points on the road this season. WVU averages 41.6 points at home.
"We need to continue to improve," U of L Coach Charlie Strong said. "We're nowhere near where we should be."
After starting 2-2 and firing the offensive coordinator, Louisville has won back-to-back games against Rutgers and Syracuse. It's the team's first conference winning streak since 2006. The Cardinals averaged 6.0 yards per snap in Saturday's win against Syracuse, which soundly beat the Mountaineers (6-2, 2-1) a week earlier.
They also had 343 yards of offense, the highest total since opening the season with 385 yards against FCS member Murray State and following that with 446 yards in a loss to Florida International. Louisville scored 21 and 17 points in those two games.