Louisville at South Florida preview

News, notes and tidbits for the Cardinals C-USA opener against South Florida in Tampa on Saturday.

Louisville vs. South Florida
October 3, 2003 | 7:00 p.m.
Raymond James Stadium


Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino:

On the Cards C-USA opener:  We're looking forward to the South Florida game. They're a good football team. They run real well with the ball. They rush the quarterback and play extremely hard. Offesively, they are kind of similar to Temple in some ways, in that they spread you out with formations. They probably run the ball a little bit better. And they're quarterback's a threat, not just throwing it but running it. It'll be a tough game."

South Florida Head Coach Jim Leavitt:

On his team's 8.6 penalty per game average: "That's discipline, that's all that it is. Discipline and we don't show much discipline do we?"

On Louisville: "Louisville is for real now, they're the deal. I'm excited about playing them."



  • The Cardinals are 4-3 in Conference USA openers and have won their last three.
  • Louisville has 26 players on the current roster from the State of Florida.
  • Louisville is looking for it's 5-0 start in school history. The last Cardinal squad to accomplish that feat was the 1993 team that was coached by Howard Schnellenberger and directed by quarterback Jeff Brohm. The 1972, 1957, 1915 and 1913 teams are the only other squads in school history to open the season 5-0.
  • Quarterback Stefan LeFors currently ranks 4th in the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 174.38. LeFors has completed 63.5% of his passes, while throwing for 710 yards and eight touchdowns.
  • Junior wide receiver J.R. Russell has now caught a pass in 15 consecutive contests. Russell, who leads the team in receptions (17) and receiving yards (315) and is averaging an impressive 18.5 yards per catch.
  • Senior tight end Ronnie Ghent now only needs nine receptions to move into 10th place on the school's career reception list.
  • Kicker Nate Smith is currently second on the school's career field goals with 34 made. He needs just three more conversions to surpass Ron Bell as the new career leader.
  • Sophomore kick returner Broderick Clark needs only 38 yards to surpass Aaron Bailey and move into 4th place on the program's career kick return yards.
  • For the first time since 1995 the Cardinals have rushed for more than 160 yards in four consecutive games. Louisville is on pace to rush for more than 2,400 yards, which would be the highest season total since the 1978 team ran for 2,572 yards.
  • Stefan LeFors' 8 touchdown passes are the most during the first four games of the season since Dave Ragone tossed 9 during the first four games of the 2000 season.
  • Freshman punter Brent Moody has placed six of his 12 punts inside the opponents 20-yard line. His 41.1-yard average ranks him third best in Conference USA.
  • The Louisville offense has had 16 drives of 50 or more yards, including ten drives of 70 or more yards.
  • Since the 2000 season, the Louisville defense has recorded more sacks than any other defensive unit in the nation. The Cards have recorded 142 sacks during that time span, followed by Washington State (138), Arizona State (134), Texas (132) and TCU (130).

South Florida

  • South Florida currently boasts of the nation's second longest home winning streak with 20 wins.
  • The Bulls are 6-2 all-time against Conference USA foes and have won six straight.
  • With a defense passing efficiency rating of 79.67, the USF pass defense ranks first nationally.
  • South Florida has not had a running back rush for more than 100-yards in 24 consecutive contests.
  • Safety J.R. Reed has set a new USF career record for takeaways. The senior has 16 career takeaways, including a school record 12 interceptions.
  • Middle linebacker Maurice Jones is among those listed on the Butkus Award Watch List.
  • The Bulls are 30-2 all-time at Raymond James Stadium.
  • South Florida boasts of a 28-4 record when leading after the first quarter.


  Louisville South Florida
Record 4-0 2-1
Total Offense 423.0 385.3
Points Scored 33.2 24.0
First Downs 21.0 19.3
Rushing Yards 200.8 146.0
Rushing Touchdowns 7 3
Passing Yards 222.2 239.3
Passing Touchdowns 9 5
Time of Possession 29:54 25:13
3rd Down Conversion 27/55 14/42
Points Allowed 17.5 19.0
Total Defense 376.2 294.0
Rushing Yards Allowed 141.8 157.3
Passing Yards Allowed 234.5 136.7
Turnover Margain +3 -2


Louisville South Florida
Rushing Yards  
E. Shelton......................91.5 C. Crossley..................54.3
Passing Yards  
S. LeFors......................177.5 R. Banks......................235.0
J.R. Russell....................4.3 H. Whittaker.................4.3
Receiving Yards  
J.R. Russell....................78.8 E. Hicks........................64.7
Points Scored  
N. Smith........................7.3 S. Grammatica............5.2
J. Minkins......................0.50 3 players tied with........1.0
R. McCune...................12.0 J. Reed..........................9.3


Louisville is arguably the most difficult opponent that the Bulls have faced yet this season.  The Cardinals offense, which equally dangerous with the pass and run will create problems for the South Florida defense.  While USF does have the nation's top rated pass defense, it has yet to face a passing offense comparable to Louisville's.

Look for the Cardinals to work to establish an effective running attack early, forcing the USF linebackers to stay home, opening up the passing lanes for quarterback Stefan LeFors.  Louisville's defense will face an offense that is comparable to what they saw from Syracuse.  However, the Bulls don't have a running game that will cause the Cardinal defenders to load the box.  With the U of L secondary and linebackers focused on the passing of Bulls quarterback Ronnie Banks, who is also a threat to run, I anticipate the defensive ends to provide a similar amount of pressure as we saw during the Temple contest.

South Florida's rush defense is average at best and the duo of Eric Shelton and Lionel Gates should have no problem combining to rush for over 200 yards.

Louisville wins a game that turns out to be less difficult than many expect:
Cards 37 Bulls 17

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