Stopping Stefan

The list is long and endless. It extends close to two decades and has spelled doomed for more than a handful. It includes names of the past (David Klinger) and the present (Reggie Ball). It is where quarterbacks preparing to take their cracks at the University of Miami defense hope they don't end up.

Most of them have arrived at a meeting with the Hurricanes accompanied by accolades and high regard, yet in the end they've walked away empty-handed. Now comes the University of Louisville sharp shooter Stefan LeFors.

The left-handed senior will be under center on Thursday night in the Orange Bowl for the No.17 Cardinals (4-0) when they meet the No. 3 Hurricanes (4-0). LeFors, who has completed 51 of 68 passes for 680 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, ranks fifth nationally with a 170.62 pass efficiency and is a big reason why Louisville is among the top-10 in total offense and scoring.

With LeFors leading the way, the Cardinals have averaged 43.3 points a game. But as they prepare for one of the biggest games in their history, Louisville has attracted plenty of doubters who question if they belong on the same field with the Hurricanes. The Cardinals first four opponents this season are a combined 8-13.

LeFors relishes the chance to change that perception.

"I know there are people out there that still don't believe in what we have going, but the bottom line is we've taken care of everybody on our schedule," says LeFors. "But there's no question this is the chance of a lifetime. We can really open the country's eyes because those guys (the Hurricanes) are loaded everywhere."

The same can be said of the Cardinals - especially on offense. A year after averaging 7.0 yards a play they haven't slowed down much thanks to the return of eight starters. Louisville has outscored the opposition 173-28, including 111-14 in the second half. LeFors, averaging 170 passing yards a game, has shown an ability to run, gaining 109 yards on 21 attempts.

But for all their offensive firepower, don't think Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino isn't concerned with the Hurricanes defense. Miami, allowing 6.5 points a game, has surrendered just one touchdown in 60 possessions this season. The Hurricanes limited Ball to 68 yards passing on 8-of-25. UM recorded three interceptions in a 27-3 victory over Georgia Tech, Oct. 2.

Petrino says the offensive line must pass protect well, the receivers need to get off the line of scrimmage quickly and LeFors will have to make smart decisions if the Cardinals are to have any chance of pulling off the upset.

"Protecting our quarterback is important because against Miami you don't have the luxury of holding on to the ball for long," said Petrino. "They have a very good pass rush and he will have to make throws at times to receivers that aren't going to be wide open."

Said UM defensive back Antrel Rolle: "From what I've seen he (LeFors) can move and has a strong arm. Hopefully we can take care of our assignments and the rest will fall into place for us."

Petrino doesn't think LeFors will be rattled by his surroundings.

"Stefan will no doubt be ready and keep us in the game. I've been around the kid for a while now and I can tell you he isn't bothered by too many things."

The Cardinals will be without sophomore offensive tackle Renardo Foster, who according to Petrino will have season-ending knee surgery next week.

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