Louisville v. Tulane preview

Louisville looks to improve to 6-1 against the visiting Tulane Green Wave on Friday night for an ESPN nationally televised contest.

Louisville vs. Tulane
October 17, 2003 | 8:00 p.m.
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium
ESPN

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QUOTES

Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino


Coach Petrino (ITV)

On Tulane:  "They are a very good offensive football team, very good. They've got real good receivers, and Losman is an NFL-caliber quarterback - he can make all the throws and is very athletic. And they have a very good offensive package. They give you a lot of different looks, probably more than we've seen since the Syracuse game."

On winning the time of possession:  "Our time of possession is going down and that's a concern of mine," Petrino said. "I think we need to have the ball more and that's going to be crucial Friday night. We have to keep their [Tulane's J.P. Losman]quarterback on the sideline and keep our offense on the field."

Tulane head coach Chris Scelfo


Coach Scelfo (AP)

On Louisville:  Their offensive and defensive lines are very good. Obviously, the quarterback is an efficient player, with his arm and his feet. The big plays that they have hit this year have been, not because someone had a mental mistake, but because they executed. Their kick return game is really good. Their linebackers are good; they're a good football team. They've gone to Syracuse; they've gone to Kentucky. Bobby [head coach Petrino] had that tie in to them a few years back when he was there, so it wasn't a large transition. They've done a good job mixing and they're playing well. Offensively, they're first in our league, I think, but defensively, they're only giving up 18 points a game and I think that has as much to do with them being 5-1 as anything.

On playing on a Friday night:  I think the game has changed so much, television is a big part of it. They dictate when you play, the time of the game, the day you're playing. I don't think we have much control over it. It's going to be great exposure for us, on national television; this being our third game on national tv. There's a lot of things we can control, but that is one that I don't think college coaches can now.

NOTES

LOUISVILLE

  • Louisville holds a 7-2 series advantage over Tulane.  However, the teams have split the last four meetings, with Louisville last winning 52-7 during the 2001 season.
  • The Cardinals currently rank 12th in the nation in total offense.
  • The school's top five offensive yardage outings have all come under the direction of now head coach Bobby Petrino.  The 619 total yards against Army last week ranks fourth in school history.
  • A total of 14 different players have caught a pass for the Cardinals this season.
  • Stefan LeFors became only the second Cardinal quarterback to ever throw for more than 400 yards in a game when he threw for 406 yards against Army.  Chris Redman also eclipsed the 400 yard mark, last doing so against Illinois during the 1999 season.
  • Center Dan Koons has now started 26 consecutive games.
  • Louisville's rushing game has already gained 1,198 yards, which is just 189 yards shy of last season's total of 1,387.  The Cardinals are currently averaging 4.9 yards per carry.
  • Louisville has converted an impressive 9 of 11 fourth down attempts this season.
  • The Cardinal defense is currently ranked 18th in the country in scoring defense, giving up just 18.5 points per game.
  • Louisville is winning by an average of 20.3 points per game through their first three home games.
  • The Cardinal secondary has already surpassed last year's interception total, with 10 thefts so far this season.
  • Of the 29 scoring drives for the Louisville offense, 15 have come on drives of over 70 yards.
  • Louisville has dropped its per game penalty yardage from 105.0 last year to just 58.3 yards this season.
  • Bobby Petrino's 5-1 record is second in the nation for first-year coaches, trailing only Michigan State's John L. Smith who is 6-1.
  • Louisville currently leads Conference USA in rushing offense with 199.7 yards per game and total offense with 461.7 yards per game.
  • The Cardinals offensive line has allowed the fewest sacks (6) in Conference USA.

TULANE

  • The Green Wave lead Conference USA in passing efficiency with a rating of 148.6.
  • The Tulane defense is last in the league in scoring defense, giving up an average of 38.5 points per contest.
  • Already the career record-holder in school and Conference USA in rushing and all-purpose yards, Tulane's Mewelde Moore can join an exclusive club with 37 rushing and 50 receiving yards this year. The senior from Baton Rouge can become just the second 4,000/2,000 man in NCAA Division I-A history.
  • Tulane is 46-64-2 (.420) all-time versus schools that currently comprise C-USA.
  • An amazing 16 freshmen -- five redshirts and 11 true freshmen -- have played significant roles for Tulane this year, with nine of those having started games and nearly all of the rest listed no lower than second on the depth chart.
  • Four of Tulane's six games have been decided by a three-point margin.

STATISTICAL COMPARISON

  LOUISVILLE TULANE
Rushing Offense 199.7 110.3
Passing Offense 262.0 300.8
Total Offense 461.7 411.2
Scoring Offense 32.5 33.8
Rushing Defense 130.5 229.2
Passing Defense 239.3 261.2
Total Defense 369.8 493.3
Scoring Defense 18.5 38.5
Net Punting 35.1 33.2
Punt Returns 8.6 6.2
Kickoff Returns 21.4 23.8
Turnover Margain +4 +4

ITV PREDICTION

Can you say offense?  Both Louisville and Tulane can throw and run very effectively, so as Coach Petrino pointed out during his Monday press conference, time of possession will be crucial, as will be the play of the two defensive units.  Offensively, I give the slight edge to the Green Wave and defensively, I give just a slightly wider edge to the Cardinals.

Look for the Cardinals to attempt to establish their running game and then run it some more.  Eric Shelton, Lionel Gates and crew must be effective to keep the dangerous Tulane offense on the sidelines for as long as possible.  Tulane's rush defense is porous at best, so Coach Petrino will most likely keep it on the ground as much as possible.

The Tulane offense can strike and strike quickly!  Louisville's secondary can not afford to many blown assignments and must play their best game of the year as a unit.  They will be challenged often, but so will the Cardinals defensive front.  Tulane running back Mewelde Moore is a very serious threat to rush for over 100 yards, so players making the initial contact must wrap him up.

With two dangerous offenses, coupled with youth-filled defenses, special teams and turnovers could be the difference.  Having Broderick Clark back to return kicks is vital for Louisville, but the Cardinals must tackle better on punt coverage and not allow frequent returns of over 10 yards.

The Cardinal defense, with the help of a loud Papa John's Cardinal Stadium crowd, will continue to make the stops when they need them most.

In a see-saw battle, Louisville comes out on top...40-33.


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