tampabay.com

Defense good for only one half against offensive beast

By MIKE CAMUNAS
Published November 19, 2006


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Dubbed "overwhelming" by coach Jim Leavitt earlier in the week, Louisville's offense did what it normally does - and went about it routinely, as though it were just another part-time job.

The Cardinals put up 446 yards of offense in their 31-8 victory over USF on Saturday, going for par on what they average this season. Coming into the game, No. 10 Louisville was ranked sixth in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 37.8 points as well as having the second-best total offense. The Cardinals averaged 467.4 yards in that department.

"Our defense did some good things and did some bad things. ... I thought the defense played good in the first half," Leavitt said.

The Bulls defense started well, forcing Louisville to go three-and-out in its first three series. But then a slant pass from quarterback Brian Brohm to Kolby Smith went for 27 yards. Though defensive end George Selvie forced a fumble on the Bulls' 1-yard line, Louisville found momentum from there on.

But the Bulls allowed the Cardinals just 10 points and 217 yards in the first half. Leavitt felt things were going well heading into the locker room.

"Going into the halftime, I really felt good about the game," Leavitt said.

"But it was that third and 23 play that really got to us. That was bad. Because we had them hemmed up."

Leavitt was referring to when in the third quarter, the Bulls, down 17-0, had Louisville struggling on its 31-yard line. But USF allowed Brohm to hit a wide-open Harry Douglas for 40 yards.

Five plays later, Douglas made his second touchdown reception. Douglas led all receivers with seven catches for 86 yards.

Added linebacker Ben Moffitt, "It was very frustrating."

"There's no other way you can really say it. It sucks. There was a chance for us to get a championship, and we lost and it hurts. It just hurts."

Leavitt criticized the defense for not picking up any sacks or interceptions.

Brohm was able to pick apart USF's secondary, which entered the game ranked 22nd in the nation in passing defense, for 274 yards on 19-of-33 passing.

"The second half really disappointed me," said Leavitt, who watched his defense give up 229 yards and 21 points after halftime. "We just didn't play very well. I don't care about statistics. We lost a football game. If I worried about stats, we wouldn't win anyways."