Cards v. Cougars game preview

News, notes, quotes, stats and more regarding the Cardinals Saturday game against Houston.

Louisville vs. Houston
November 22, 2003 | 3:00 p.m.
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium
840 WHAS


Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino

Coach Petrino (ITV)

On the Houston game:  "They are a very unique offense.  They do some things that you don't see any other teams in college football doing.  They're very explosive.  I think their quarterback is a tremendous player and for him to be able to do some of things he does as a true freshman, says a lot about their coaching staff.  Our defense will be challenged, so we're going to have to find a way to put some pressure on him and we need to find a way to create some turnovers, because we haven't had any turnovers in the last two games.  Offensively, we're going to have to score points.  Hopefully it'll be a good game, with a lot of points scored and it'll come down to the fourth quarter to see who wins it."

Houston head coach Art Briles

On the Louisville game:  "They are a tradition rich school and are extremely talented and well coached.  They do a great job on both sides of the ball.  It's a tremendous challenge for us to go there and try and get out of there with a win.  We have to go in there with a good game plan and take care of business."

On going to a bowl game:  "We're in the hunt, but there are a few others as well.  We really feel like we'd like to win two more games and make it really a locked deal, so we're in that mix, but we just need to make sure we are in there twelve days from now.  We're really happy to be there and it means a lot to our university and our players, because we've got guys on this team that have never been to a bowl game."


Thank You Seniors!!

Saturday's game against Houston will be the last home game for 15 seniors.  This group of seniors have amassed a record of 34-14 during their four years together at U of L.  It ties the class of 2002 for the most wins during a four-year period.  They have helped establish U of L football as a program that expects to go bowling every season and helped the team win back to back Conference USA Championships.  Thank You Seniors!!

Rod Day (Bessemer, AL) Ronnie Ghent (Lakeland, FL) Victor Glenn (Ormond Beach, FL)
James Greene (Miami, FL) Jason Hilliard (Jeffersonville, IN) D.J. Kamer (Louisville, KY)
Dan Koons (Columbus, OH) Scott Lopez (Gainesville, FL) Josh Minkins (Willingboro, NJ)
Richard Owens (Middleburg, FL) T.J. Patterson (Florence, AL) Chad Pinkston (Louisville, KY)
Nate Smith (Louisville, KY) Jerry Spencer (Eagle Springs, NC) Wade Tydlacka (Louisville, KY)



  • The Cardinals are 3-2 against the Cougars in Conference USA play.
  • Despite the hype about first year starter Kevin Kolb of Houston, U of L first year starting quarterback Stefan LeFors

    Stefan LeFors (ITV)
    actually has compiled two of the top three passing performances in Conference USA this season.  LeFors 459 passing yards against TCU leads C-USA, while his 406 yards against Army is the third most this season.
  • Tight end Ronnie Ghent has now had at least one reception in 35 straight games, while receiver J.R. Russell has pulled in at least one catch in 21 consecutive contests.
  • J.R. Russell only needs 153 more receiving yards to become just the sixth player in school history to reach the 1,000 yard mark during one season.
  • Senior Scott Lopez will be making his team best 35th consecutive start against Houston.

  • The Cardinals have now rushed for 1,969 yards this season, the most since the 1978 team.

  • The Louisville offense has now gained 4,558 total yards, the fourth-highest total in the programs history.  It is on pace to become the third team to surpass the 5,000-yard mark in one season.

  • Since the 2000 season, U of L is a dismal 6-9 when the team doesn't total at least 100 rushing yards.  It is 13-0 when an individual rushes for over 100 yards.

  • Seven true freshmen have seen action this season, which are Michael Bush, William Gay, Amobi Okoye, Kolby Smith, Wayne Riles, Brent Moody and Brandon Sharp.

  • Head Coach Bobby Petrino is just the fifth U of L coach to guarantee himself a winning record in his first year at the helm.  Additionally, with one more victory, Petrino will become the school's winningest first-year head coach.  He is also the first U of L coach to attain a Top 25 ranking in his first season.


  • First year head coach Art Briles is 3-0 in Conference USA road games.
  • Houston is aiming for its first seven win season since 1999.
  • Senior receiver Brandon Middleton has had at least one reception in 37 consecutive contests.
  • Houston's opponents are averaging 6.3 points per game off turnovers, while the Cougars are averaging 2.7 a contest.

  • Kevin Kolb is the first true freshman to start at quarterback in the history of Houston football.

  • Kolb became just the fourth player in Division 1A football to ever rush for at least 100 yards and pass for over 400 yards in one game.  His 578 total yards against TCU tied former Cardinal quarterback Chris Redman's Conference USA record.
  • Houston has recorded 16 scores that have taken less than two minutes.  Of those 16, nine have take less than one minute off the game clock.

  • The Cougars are 4-0 when leading after the first quarter and 0-4 when trailing after the first period.
  • Kolb has been named Conference USA's Offensive Player of the Week twice this season, while Middleton has received the honor once.

  • Junior kicker Dustin Bell was a member of the Lou Grozo Award watch list.  He is Houston's all-time leader in field goal percentage.


Rushing Offense 196.9 201.3
Passing Offense 258.9 240.4
Total Offense 455.8 441.7
Scoring Offense 34.0 29.9
Rushing Defense 156.1 187.8
Passing Defense 242.2 199.8
Total Defense 398.3 387.6
Scoring Defense 22.7 32.0
Net Punting 35.5 32.2
Punt Returns 9.2 8.3
Kickoff Returns 21.5 21.6
Turnover Margain +7 -6


Get ready and hold on...this game should be an offensive slugfest.  While Houston's offense seems to be getting the majority of the hype, Louisville's offense has actually performed more consistently and produced better numbers, but not by much.

Both offenses will generate yards and points on Saturday, but it'll be the play of the defense that will determine the outcome.  Defensively, I give the edge to the Cardinals.  While Houston will most likely attempt to utilize a defensive game plan similar to Memphis', the Cardinals defense will most likely be more aggressive and attempt to get as much pressure on the Cougar's true freshman quarterback.

Offensively, the Cardinals will turn to the pass once again, to help establish a run.  Similar to the TCU game, look for tight end Ronnie Ghent and running back Lionel Gates to have big performances.  This is also the type of game where sophomore receiver Broderick Clark could pull in a reception and out run the defense for a long, quick touchdown.

Turnovers will play a vital role in this game and that bodes well for U of L who is +7 in turnover margain, while the Cougars are -6.

The Cardinals return to their winning ways and improve to 8-3....Louisville 41 Houston 33

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