Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino
Coach Petrino (ITV)
On Memphis: "They are playing very well. They have a very fine quarterback in Danny Wimprine...he does a real nice job executing their offense. They have the leading rusher in the conference in Deangelo Williams, so we've got our hands full in stopping him. They also have real good receivers, so it'll be a great challenge for our defense. They are also playing real good defense. When you watch them on video, they remind you of TCU, because they are fast and they play hard all the time."
Memphis head coach Tommy West
Tommy West (UM)
On Louisville: I'm really impressed with their quarterback. You can everything you can to try and stop their running game and then this guy can beat you with his feet and he can get outside and keep his eyes down the field...he makes plays. That's a deadly combination. They've been solid defensively. They take advantage of the things that they think they can take advantage of."
On running back Deangelo Williams: "He's a tremendous young man and a great, great football player. He can make plays when it's not there and when it is there. This will probably be the biggest challenge that he has had...we'll have to do a great job for him up front and we'll have to be able to throw the ball to keep people off of him."
- Louisville is 15-4 against Memphis since 1980 and have won four straight over the Tigers.
- Despite Louisville's seemingly recent dominance in the series, the games have often been close contests. Since 1990 the overall margain of victory in the series is only 3.67.
The Cardinals are looking to become just the third team in school history to post a 6-0 record at home, joining the 2001 and 1990 teams as the other two teams to post perfect 6-0 marks at home.
Louisville is averaging 36.0 points per game and 485.0 yards of total offense in its four home wins this season.
- U of L has never lost to UM at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
- Head coach Bobby Petrino became just the third first-year coach to win seven games in their initial season as head coach of the Cardinals. The 7-2 record is tied with Michigan State coach John L. Smith for the best mark for first-year coach this season.
J.R. Russell is rapidly becoming one of the top big play receivers in the country. The 6-3 junior leads the team in receptions with 49 for 811 yards and three touchdowns. He caught a career-high eight passes for 119 yards — the third 100-yard game of his career last Wednesday, and has caught a pass in 20 straight games. He has a team-best 11 plays of 20 or more yards, including five plays of 40 or more yards in 2003. His 811 yards receiving is the ninth-best single-season total in school history and he needs 189 yards to become just the sixth player in school history to reach the 1,000-yard plateau.
The 2003 Cardinals are on pace to do something which only two other teams have done in school history— record 400 or more points in a season. After nine games, the Cardinals have scored 306 points and are on pace to score 408 this season, which would be the third-highest total in the history of the school.
- The Cardinal offense is currently fifth in the nation in total offense with an average of 482.44 per contest.
Despite rushing for a season-low 121 yards against TCU, U of L is averaging 212.4 yards a game — the fifth-highest single season average in school history.
- Quarterback Danny Wimprine has been honored as the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week twice this season.
Running back Deangelo Williams leads the nation in all-purpose yardage per game, averaging 192.0 yards and is ranked fifth in rushing with a 126.7 mark.
DeAngelo Williams (UM)
Safety O.C. Collins received All-America honors last season. The Georgia native, who started 11 of the team's 12 games, was named to The Sporting News Freshman All-America squad.
- The Memphis offense has had 44 plays of over 20 yards or more this season, including 13 for more than 40 yards.
- There are only 8 seniors on this year's Tiger squad.
Memphis quarterback Danny Wimprine has been named as a candidate for the Davie O'Brien Award which is presented annually to the nation's top quarterback. Linebacker Derrick Ballard has been tabbed as a member of the Dick Butkus Award watch list and tailback DeAngelo Williams is on the watch list for the Doak Walker Award which is presented annually to the nation's top running back.
The Tiger offense is ranked high in most Conference USA categories. UM is second in scoring offense, first in pass offense, fourth in rush offense and second in total offense.
Similarly, the Tiger defense also ranks high in C-USA. UM is fourth is scoring defense, third in pass defense, fourth in rush defense and third in total defense.
However, in the Red Zone the Tigers offense and defense seem to soften. Offensively, UM is 8th in C-USA in Red Zone offense, scoring on 76.9% of their opportunities. The Tiger defense ranks 9th in the Red Zone, allowing opponents to convert 88.5% of the time.
Memphis boasts of having one of the nation's best third-down defense. Opponents are only converting third-downs 30.4% of the time.
The Memphis offensive line has allowed only 11 sacks through 9 games, second best to Louisville's league leading nine allowed.
Memphis also boasts of having the top 1-2 punch in the league. Running back Deangelo Williams and quarterback Danny Wimprine both lead the conference in their respective categories.
Talk about two teams being statistically even...this is it. It appears to be a game that will be see it's share of offensive explosions, which means the outcome could very well come down to turnovers and special teams play.
The absence of Eric Shelton could play a vital role in the Cardinal offense on Saturday, as junior running back Lionel Gates is expected to see the bulk of the carries. I expect the Cardinals to attempt to establish the run early, possibly utilizing the quick dump pass to Gates, similar to the TCU game. Memphis will pressure the U of L offense, so the quick pass from Stefan LeFors to the backs and tight ends should once again be a frequent option.
Defensively, both teams appear to have a 'bend, but don't break' philosophy. Despite having impressive pass defense numbers, Louisville should be able to have an effective pass game against Memphis. Louisville on the other hand, has a has challenge facing them. Memphis has both a great passing and rushing game. The Cardinals must contain Williams and not allow him to get outside often. I anticipate seeing the U of L defense to have more aggressive play-calling against Memphis, possibly bringing the safety blitz more often.
Believe it or not, this is the toughest game of the season to predict. The home crowd gives the Cards the edge and Louisville wins one in another close game in the series...28-27.