tampabay.com

Moffitt injury was a big blow

By GREG AUMAN
Published November 20, 2006


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Coach Jim Leavitt isn't one to make excuses, but he acknowledged Sunday that much of Louisville's offensive success in Saturday's 31-8 victory came after middle linebacker Ben Moffitt, the team's leading tackler, injured his right knee early in the second quarter.

"It didn't help our defense, I know that," said Leavitt, whose team fell to 7-4, 3-3 in the Big East.

Moffitt, who entered the game with 92 tackles, bruised his knee on Louisville's first touchdown drive. He attempted to play but did not record a tackle the rest of the game, and his top backup, Brouce Mompremier, was out with a shoulder injury. USF shifted weakside linebacker Patrick St. Louis to the middle, where he played two years ago, and used junior Sam Miller and freshman defensive end Chris Robinson at the vacated weakside spot.

Louisville's two passing touchdowns, both on third and goal, came on the same play, with receiver Harry Douglas running a crossing route across the middle. Leavitt said having Moffitt in the game might not have helped because the plays were "pick routes" that caused USF defenders to collide.

"They picked us quite a bit," he said. "They beat us pretty good that way."

Moffitt said that he would be able to play this weekend against West Virginia.

ROAD WOES: One thing that has separated the teams tied atop the Big East standings - No. 7 West Virginia, No. 8 Louisville and No. 15 Rutgers - from the rest of the league is the ability to win on the road. Those three are a combined 5-3 in league road games, while the conference's other five teams are a combined 2-12.

"Seems like the teams at home in the Big East have been pretty successful this year," said Leavitt, who is 1-2 in conference road games. "If you look at it across the board, we blew our home game with Rutgers, but that's the only one we lost."

UP NEXT: This week's season finale at West Virginia, a noon kickoff on ESPN2, puts the Bulls up against another top offense. The Mountaineers rank second nationally in rushing offense 330.1 yards, total offense (480.7 yards) and scoring offense (40.7).

To put the rushing figure in perspective, USF has matched West Virginia's average in only three games in the program's 111-game history. Running back Steve Slaton and quarterback Pat White both rushed for more than 200 yards Thursday' against Pitt, becoming the third tandem ever to top 200 yards in the same game.

Greg Auman can be reached at auman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3346. View his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf/.