Spitz, Leffew plan to go out in style

Senior linemen look to lead Louisville to first-ever back-to-back 10 win seasons when they face No.12 Virginia Tech in Monday's Toyota Gator Bowl

When the Cardinals and Hokies kick off the Toyota Gator Bowl it will bring an end to the productive college careers of one side of the Louisville offensive line, a side that has remained intact for all of Bobby Petrino's 36 games as the U of L head coach.

After joining a young and inexperienced line as redshirt freshmen in 2002, Travis Leffew and Jason Spitz became fixtures on the left side of the Louisville offensive line and have developed into two of the best at their positions.

"Travis and Jason have started all 36 games at the weak guard and weak tackle and there is a lot of pressure at those positions," said Petrino of the two seniors. "They've done an excellent job for us."

This season, the pair anchored a line that allowed less than two sacks per game and aided an offense that punted just 32 times, the second fewest punts in the country. They also helped fuel a running attack that gained 194 yards an outing.

Leffew, who joined the starting unit as a redshirt freshman and earned Sporting News and Conference USA all-freshman honors, has remained with the first group for 49 consecutive starts, a school record and the third longest streak in the nation. The Danville, Kentucky native credited the familiarity between the two as a reason in the success of the Cardinals offensive front.

"I think it's something good to have," said Leffew, a Danville, Kentucky native. "With me and Jason playing as many games as we have together, we're able to know some of the instincts and stuff that we usually do without even talking to each other."

Spitz, a product of The Bolles School in Jacksonville, joined Leffew on the starting line the second game of his redshirt freshman season and made five straight starts prior to suffering a knee injury. While playing in high school he dreamed of playing in the NFL at his hometown's Alltel Stadium, the host for the Toyota Gator Bowl, but said that he couldn't imagine a better setting for his college finale.

"This is a pretty good forum for me," said Spitz of playing in his hometown of Jacksonville. "It's the last collegiate game of my career. I'm playing with some of my best friends in the world and guys that I love, and for the best coach in the world, who I absolutely admire and respect. It couldn't be a better ground for my last game."

The two first-team Big East Conference selections have paved the way for Louisville's 29 wins over the past three seasons. On Monday afternoon, they hope to end their time in a Cardinal jersey with number thirty and the biggest of their college careers.

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