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Louisville at East Carolina preview

News, notes & tidbits previewing Saturday's game at East Carolina. <P> <B>EXTRA:</B> <a href="http://louisville.theinsiders.com/2/177890.html"><B>Join ITV at the BBC this Saturday</b></a>

Louisville at East Carolina
October 25, 2003 | 2:00 p.m.
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
WDRB FOX 41 | 840 WHAS

QUOTES

Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino

On the Cardinals running game:  I expected we could run the ball pretty well, but you never know how well you can do it.  Our goal going in was 175 yards a game rushing. I thought if we could do that, we would be in a position to win a lot of games. We're a little higher than that right now.

 

East Carolina Head Coach John Thompson

On playing Louisville:  We are playing a very talented Louisville football team. In my opinion, they are the second-most talented team we have played to this point. They are very balanced. They have a powerful running game with multiple big backs. They have a very effective and big-play passing game with a lot of speed and, as always, a great tight end. We need to keep getting better and have this momentum continue.

On Eric Shelton:  He's a big, strong, powerful running back. Shelton is fast. When you look at their running game, they average 212 yards. They'll run the ball and make you stop the run or they'll bloody your nose.

On winning his first game last Saturday against Army:  We have five more games to play. If you look at the schedule, there's nothing but good football teams to play. It was fun to win, I enjoyed it, but I don't feel any weight was on my shoulder going into the game and I don't feel any now. I just go and do my best. We all have a job to do no matter what the situation. I'm happy for our players and everyone involved. I enjoyed the win, but that was a couple of days ago. Let's get ready to play another one.

 

NOTES

LOUISVILLE

  • East Carolina and Louisville will meet for the ninth time Saturday, and the sixth time as members of Conference USA. The series is tied at 4-4, but the Cardinals have won three of the last four meetings, including the last two in Greenville. ECU last defeated Louisville in Greenville, 18-13, during the 1967 season.

  • Safety Kerry Rhodes, who recorded two interceptions and a sack last Saturday against Tulane, was named this week's Conference USA Co-Defensive Player of the Week.

  • Michael Bush continues to improve.  Bush has accounted for 371 yards or 53.0 per game. He's fifth on the team in receptions with nine catches for 193 yards, including a team best 21.4 yards a catch. On the ground, Bush has rushed 34 times for 167 yards and three scores, which is second on the team. He's coming off the best game of his career, where he rushed nine times for 66 yards and two touchdowns and also had three receptions for 43 yards.

  • Quarterback Stefan LeFors has accumulated 1,739 yards of total offense, which is already the 15th most in a season.

  • Junior receiver J.R. Russell, who has caught a pass in 18 straight games, has a team-best eight plays of 20 or more yards, including five plays of 40 or more yards.

  • Under the guidance of head coach Bobby Petrino, the Cardinals have moved up to 13th in the country in total offense, averaging 467.1 yards a game. During the last two wins, the Cardinals have totaled 1,119 yards, including a season-high 619 against Army on October 11. The 1,119 yards of total offense is the most in back-to-back games since Louisville recorded 1,249 yards against Boston College (507) and Cincinnati (742) in 1998. The Cardinals are on pace to record 5,605 yards of total offense, which would be the second-most in school history. The 1998 team holds the school mark with 6,156 yards.

  • The Cardinals have already gained 1,486 yards on the ground, which is more than the Cardinals have run for during the last three seasons. The Cardinals are averaging an impressive 5.1 yards per carry, which would be the most in school history.


    Ronnie Ghent (ITV)
  • Tight end Ronnie Ghent has had a special career from his tight end position. The senior has 96 receptions for 1,038 yards and 13 touchdowns over his career, but most impressive, is the fact that Ghent has caught at least one pass in 35 of the 36 games he has played in during his stellar career.

  • Louisville averages 32.7 points per game and 443.0 yards of offense on the road. The Cardinals have been fairly balanced away from home, running for 204.0 yards and throwing for an average of 239.4.

  • Louisville is a perfect 6-0 this season when leading after three quarters and have won 28 straight contests when leading after three quarters since 1999. Louisville has given up just 34 fourth-quarter points this year.

EAST CAROLINA

  • The Pirates notched their first win of the season last week with a 38-32 win over Army.

  • First year head coach John Thompson, who has served as an assistant at Florida, Arkansas and LSU, has Conference USA experience.  Prior to his time working in the SEC, Thompson served as an assistant at Memphis and Southern Miss.


  • Marvin Townes (AP)
    Marvin Townes was named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week for his 184-yard rushing performance at Army last Saturday.
  • Receiver Terrance Copper ranks fifth in the nation in total receptions with 52.

  • Pirate quarterback Desmond Robinson ranks second in the nation in completion percentage.  at Army. For the season, Robinson has now completed 70.8 percent of his passes (102 of 144) and trails only Matt Schaub of Virginia (72.4 percent) for the national lead. Robinson is well above pace to break the ECU season record for best completion percentage, currently held by David Garrard who completed 61.6 percent of his passes his rookie season.

  • Linebacker Chris Moore continues to lead the nation in tackles per game with 92, an average of 15.3 per game.

  • Over half of the players on East Carolina's latest two-deep depth chart are freshmen or sophomores.

  • Turnovers have plagued ECU this season as the Pirates have a turnover margin of -10. The turnover bug has been particularly painful for ECU, which has seen its opponents score 14 touchdowns and two field goals on its 21 turnovers this season.

STATISTICAL COMPARISON

  Louisville East Carolina
Rushing Offense 212.3 128.8
Passing Offense 254.8 157.8
Total Offense 467.1 286.7
Scoring Offense 34.6 13.8
Rushing Defense 134.7 225.0
Passing Defense 239.8 198.4
Total Defense 374.5 423.4
Scoring Defense 19.8 35.3
Net Punting 35.2 42.4
Punt Returns 8.3 0.8
Kickoff Returns 21.8 15.4
Turnover Margain +7 -10

ITV PREDICTION

Louisville will be facing a team that is struggling to find it's offense.  East Carolina currently ranks near the bottom in every offensive category, including 114th in the NCAA in scoring offense.  Couple the Pirates offensive woes with the continued improvement of the Louisville defense and, on paper, this game could be over very quickly.

The East Carolina defense isn't faring much better, giving up an average of 423 yards of offense per contest.  Couple that with Louisville's ability to effectively run and throw and again, on paper, this game could be over very quickly.

Turnovers have been an asset to Louisville all season long as the Cardinals are plus seven.  However, as helpful as they have been for U of L, they have hurt ECU even more.  The Pirates are -10 in turnovers and have seen opponents convert their 21 turnovers into scores 16 times.  More of the same...on paper, this game could be over very quickly.

Statistics don't often lie, so what you see on paper becomes a reality on Saturday...Cardinals improve to 7-1 with a 34-17 victory over the Pirates.


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