"After watching the video tape, I feel like we left a win out there," Coach Petrino said Monday. "It's hard to take. I thought our players played extremely hard. I thought our players showed a lot of character and desire to win the game. We just came up short in overtime."
Despite throwing for a career-best 267 yards, quarterback Stefan LeFors was uncharacteristically off target, especially early in the game.
"Stefan was a little bit off to start the game, which sometimes happens when you come off a hit like that," Petrino explained. "But he did a great job of settling down and competing and making plays in the second half."
With the Cardinal offense struggling against South Florida, the U of L defense, led by Robert McCune, stepped up and gave the team an opportunity to win the game.
"Defensively, our players played extremely hard," said Petrino. "We took away a lot of their passing game. Our coverage was good for the most part. We didn't get to the quarterback as much as we would like but that's because they were cutting our defensive linemen."
In a losing effort, Petrino found encouragement to his teams handling of adversity on the road and in the effort they made in the fourth quarter to take a 21-14 lead after trailing 14-7 at halftime.
"The thing that we have going for us is that the players gave great effort and they stuck in there," Petrino said. "We didn't have any controversy on the sidelines. We're just going to build on the positives and correct the mistakes. I'm not dicouraged at all about our football team. Every goal that we set we can still get. And we'll be better because of that football game."
Petrino's emphasis during practice this week will be on the improvement of his own team and players.
"We're going to emphasize that this week's practice is about us," Petrino said. "Us getting better and the issue is our team improving and not worry about the point spread or anything like that."
One area of concentration this week might be on the running game. Despite solid statistics, Petrino admitted that his backs, namely Eric Shelton need to hit the holes harder and learn to carry over lessons from the practice field to the game more effectively.
"They've got to hit the hole harder, Eric in particular," Petrino said of his running backs. "He knows and understands that and we went through the video with him yesterday. It's a situation where he practiced extremely hard all week, ran the ball hard and prepared very well for the game but it just didn't carry over and he's got to make sure that it does from now on."
The Cards figure to get a breather this week when 0-5 Army comes to town. Petrino expects to spread the Cadet defense out and utilize his teams speed to U of L's advantage and thinks the Louisville defense can apply heavy pressure to Army quarterback Zac Dahman.
"What they do well on defense is they don't make a lot of mistakes," Petrino said of the Cadets. "They're always aligned right. They run hard to the ball. They tackle well. I think it's going to be important for us to spread them out. We're not going to sit in there with tight formations and let them play nine guys to the run. We've got to try to expose their athletic ability by spreading them out."
Stopping Army's crossing routes and pressuring the quarterback will be keys for the Cardinal defense this Saturday.
"Our defense has to stop their crossing routes, Petrino said. "They do a real nice job on their crossing routes and getting guys to pop wide open. They try to get the ball out of the quarterback's hands real quick. I would anticipate that we'll be able to get some pressure on the quarterback."
Petrino expects a quick recovery from the first loss of the season.
"I'm very encouraged by the way our guys played and the way we came back," Petrino said "I like our team. I think it's a team that shows character. I believe they're listening. So I anticipate us to come back strong off of this [defeat]."