Cards have Steve Spurrier to thank for Dumervil

Had former University of Florida coach Steve Spurrier not left for the NFL's Washington Redskins four years ago, it's likely that University of Louisville sack artist Elvis Dumervil would be wreaking havoc on SEC quarterbacks instead of leading the way for the Cardinals defensive line this season.

Louisville fans have Steve Spurrier to thank for sack-machine Elvis Dumervil.

Had Spurrier not left the University of Florida to coach the NFL's Washington Redskins four years ago, it's likely the 6-0, 250 pound Dumervil would be wreaking havoc on Southeastern Conference foes instead of leading the way for the Cardinals defensive line this season.

But when current Illinois coach Ron Zook took over in Gainesville after the ‘ole ‘Ball Coach' left for the nation's capital, Dumervil decided to back out of a non-binding verbal commitment he made to the Gators during his senior year at Miami's Jackson High prior to Zook's hiring because "we didn't really see eye to eye."

So with one of his seven brothers, safety Curry Burns, playing for John L. Smith at Louisville, Dumervil decided that heading north and playing for the Cardinals was the next best thing.

"I felt Louisville was the best place for me to showcase my talent," explained Dumervil, who also had scholarship offers coming out of high school from South Florida and Syracuse. "I'm truly thankful I made that decision to come here. When I signed with Louisville I knew they were going to do great things."

But surely he didn't know it would turn out this great.

Since arriving at Louisville in 2002, Dumervil has played on three bowl teams, including last year's 11-1 Liberty Bowl championship team. That team, of course, finished the season ranked No. 6 nationally, well ahead of the team he once committed to play for.

Now, in his second season as a full-time starter at defensive end, the man nicknamed ‘Cool' by his teammates is completely destroying the competition for 8th ranked Louisville.

Through two games, Dumervil has already broken former Georgia Tech star Pat Swilling's NCAA consecutive game sack record with nine. He leads the Cardinals in every major defensive statistical category, including tackles (17), tackles for loss (9.5), sacks (9), and forced fumbles (4). And he's already been named the Walter Camp Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week, and the Big East Defensive Player of the Week twice. To top it off, he's currently fifth on's Heisman Trophy poll.

After recording six sacks against
Kentucky, Dumervil had three more
against Oregon State to set a new NCAA
record for sacks in consecutive games.

So what's the humble Dumervil have to say about his unbelievable start? "All I can say is this is a great start," he said.

With nine games still remaining on Louisville's schedule, it's hard to imagine what kind of numbers Dumervil could post if he can stay healthy.

But if Louisville fans have Spurrier to thank for Dumervil, U of L's undersized sack artist owes plenty of gratitude to his 6-3, 320 pound teammate, Montavious Stanley, for his fast start this season. Stanley has been a force from his defensive tackle spot, registering 11 tackles and 3 sacks, and teams have been forced to direct their energy toward stopping him. When that has happened, Dumervil has often been left with just one man to beat to get to the quarterback.

"I think it's just a one-two punch," said Dumervil. "Montavious and I support each other. If they double-team me, he has a one-on-one and he expects to beat that. If they double-team him, I get the one-on-one and I expect to beat that. We go hand in hand and really complement one another."

"They both had a great summer and were dedicated to making this their best season ever," Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. "They've been doing a great job. I think Montavious' maturity and understanding of the game has really allowed him to play much better this season. He's in unbelievable condition."

Dumervil's play has been so spectacular this season that even a veteran coach like Petrino can't find words to describe it.

"It's hard to explain how well Elvis is playing," he said. "I wish I knew how but he just keeps going. I hope he can keep it up."

Dumervil's biggest feat this week might be finding enough tickets for relatives and friends who want to attend the Cardinals game in his home state this Saturday against Big East rival South Florida (2-1). Expecting 25-30 family members for Louisville's first Big East Conference game against the Bulls, Dumervil admits he might have a big problem. "I only have 23 tickets right now," he said Monday afternoon.

As big a problem as finding tickets might be for Dumervil, USF likely will face an even bigger challenge trying to do something neither Kentucky or Oregon State could: Stopping No. 58.

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