TAMPA - The Bulls got a boost before Saturday's victory with the return of strength and conditioning coach Ronnie McKeefery, who has been away from the team since before the opener.
McKeefery and wife Angie have been in the Ukraine, picking up three children - 3-year-old Maya and 5-year-old twins Tyler and Ava - they're adopting. McKeefery flew home after the adoption was given final approval, though his wife will remain in Kiev with the children during a mandatory 10-day waiting period before flying home to Tampa.
Assistant Travis Larimore has run the Bulls' weight room in McKeefery's absence.
ALL FOR NOTHING: Louisville nearly picked up a huge touchdown on the last play of the first half. Getting the ball on their 22-yard line with 0:03 left, the Cardinals threw a short pass that receiver Mario Urrutia took down the right sideline, shedding tackles all the way until cornerback Trae Williams tackled him at 12-yard line.
AND THEN SOME: If USF needed any added spark coming out of halftime with a 24-7 lead, the Bulls got it when sophomore running back Chad Simpson took the second-half kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.
Simpson's kickoff return, the Bulls' first for a touchdown since J.R. Reed went 96 yards in November 2003, electrified the crowd. And there was more.
On Louisville's second offensive play, running back Michael Bush fumbled after a hit by linebacker Patrick St. Louis and the ball was recovered by defensive end Terrence Royal, setting USF up on the Louisville 36.
CLOSE CALL: For the second week in a row, USF benefited from an instant replay call. The Bulls got a key turnover in the first quarter when linebacker Ben Moffitt forced a fumble by receiver Gary Barnidge.
Before the Bulls could snap the ball on offense, officials called for a review to find out whether Barnidge's knee was down before he lost the football. Referee John Smith announced that the Big East replay official could find "no indisputable evidence" to overturn the call.
JENKINS INJURED: Sophomore cornerback Mike Jenkins had to be helped off the field and carted to the locker room midway through the third quarter. He returned to the game in the fourth quarter; USF reported the injury as cramps.
Jenkins, who has started all four games for the Bulls, was replaced by freshman Tyller Roberts and senior D'Juan Brown, who alternated at cornerback opposite sophomore Trae Williams.
THIS AND THAT: Saturday's crowd was a dropoff from two huge showings against Florida A&M and Central Florida. Louisville returned 500 of the 3,000 tickets allotted to it. ... Pat Julmiste's 57-yard pass to Amarri Jackson in the first quarter was the Bulls' longest play from scrimmage this season. ... USF outscored Louisville 17-3 in the second quarter, impressive considering the Cardinals had outscored their first two opponents 49-0 in the quarter. ... Bad-luck charm: Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino attended Saturday, as he did when the Cardinals came to Tampa two years ago and lost 31-28.