TE Ronnie Ghent (PHOTO CREDIT - Dave Klotz/Louisville Athletics)

2002 Statistics

Coach: Bobby Petrino
1st year
2002 Record: 7-6
at Duke WON 40-3
at Colorado State LOST 33-36
at Army WON 45-14
at Memphis WON 38-32
TCU LOST 31-45
at Southern Miss WON 20-17 (2OT)
UAB WON 41-21
at Houston LOST 10-27
Marshall LOST 15-38

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

New head coach Bobby Petrino brings to Louisville a tough, no-nonsense approach, something that seemed to lack in 2002. Credited with one of the most dynamic offensive minds in college football, Petrino comes back after serving on the Cards' staff in 1998, when a Chris Redman-led group finished first in total offense. He comes here from an Auburn team (as their offensive coordinator) that finished as one of the better offensive teams. These facts give hope to Cardinal fans.

His task is to put the Cardinals into college football's hierarchy, especially with talks of moving to the Big East (to fill a void? Hmmm). He will have talent, especially within the offense he likes to run. It will be his job to put this talent into place and continue building upon the foundation laid by John L. Smith.

Like most squads, it all starts at QB. Would it be a good idea to throw Michael Bush into the lineup for development? We feel the competition at QB will be so close that it shouldn't hurt much, if anything, to thrust the youngster into the lineup early. The Cards will likely rotate QBs until the freshman shows he can take the reigns by himself. And that's when we'll see the beginning of something great.

Offensively, it is imperative for the line to provide the security missing last season. The luxury of this mobile QB will help. The emergence of Shelton at RB certainly provides a dimension that will keep defenses from anticipating many play-calls. We expect him to have an all-conference year, the same way Auburn RB Ronnie Brown did under Petrino's guidance.

The defensive line has to pick up where it left off a year ago. Day and Leffew will certainly do their part(s) to control the attack up front, meaning the new safeties will need to be ready for the funneling. If they can play formidably well against Kentucky, they will be marginally ready for other wide-open passing teams - namely South Florida, Tulane, Houston and Cincy. If the Cards can improve on their 92 penalty yards per game and (-)15 TO margin, the season should be a competitive success.

The schedule is not as challenging as 2002. They play seven teams with losing records, three of which have new coaches. Look for them to get hurt at conference heavies South Florida, TCU, and Cincinnati. They also catch Tulane and an improved Houston team at home.

One outcome we foresee is the Cards taking advantage of this weak schedule and pulling off a winning season, and slipping into an early-December bowl game. The other scenario is the new HC and QB make restructuring a season-long project, losing more than winning as each week reflects marked improvements. In this version, they end strong, hungrier than opponents with better records. Either way, 2004 looks like a great payoff for whatever pains are endured this campaign. Too big of an impact in a new head coaches first season can lead to inflated expectations that, if not met, often equal a quicker exit than if slower, steadier development occurs.

Projected 2003 record: 8-4
QB - 2 DL - 3
RB - 3.5 LB - 2.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 2.5
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Stefan Lefors, 5-4-0, 37 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: T.J. Patterson, 87 att., 310 yds., 2 TD

Receiving: Joshua Tinch, 31 rec., 406 yds., 4 TD

Scoring: Nate Smith, 12-19 FG, 39-40 PAT, 75 pts.

Punting: Nate Smith, 43 punts, 36.5 avg.

Kicking: Nate Smith, 12-19 FG, 39-40 PAT, 75 pts.

Tackles: Rod Day, 101 tot., 54 solo

Sacks: Marcus Jones, 3 sacks; Scott Lopez, 3 sacks

Interceptions: Josh Minkins, 2 for 47 yds.

Kickoff returns: Broderick Clark, 26 ret., 31.8 avg.

Punt returns: Brandon Johnson, 2 ret., 26.0 avg.


RB Eric Shelton (PHOTO CREDIT - Dave Klotz/Louisville Athletics)


OFFENSE: Damien Dorsey-WR, Henry Miller-RB, Dave Ragone-QB, Antoine Sims-OL
DEFENSE: Michael Brown-LB, Curry Burns-SS, Anthony Floyd-FS, Chris Johnson-CB, Chad Lee-LB, Devon Thomas-DE, Dewayne White-DE (NFL)

written by Tim Chapman

Whoever will be slinging the 'skin will have a wealthy account of receivers on which to bank. The majority of passes will be thrown at junior WR Joshua Tinch and sophomore dynamo Broderick Clark. Tinch is a reliable target with good vision of the field, able to find holes in coverage and exploit a defense's weakness(es). Clark is a great runner in the open field and has tremendous breakaway speed. Translation - if he gets behind you, he's gone!

Another reliable target to help settle the QB is senior TE Ronnie Ghent. A three-time All-CUSA selection, Ghent is a great pro prospect. He carries the athletic gifts that make him a passing threat and the strength to make him a principal blocker in the run-game.

We expect the running game to play a much bigger part with the emergence of Florida State sophomore transfer Eric Shelton. Shelton (6'3", 245 lbs) is much like current Seminole back Greg Jones- a powerful runner, with enough speed to turn either corner and get downfield. He had a great spring, and we feel this former Parade All-American will pay big dividends in the Cards future.

The Louisville offense can hang their hat on… well, wait a minute… uh oh. The Cardinals had one of the better offensive units the last few years, but they slipped (from their self-set norm) in 2002, and all who made an impact are gone.

The replenishing starts most notably at quarterback, where three legitimate candidates battle it out into fall practices, and likely throughout the season. The favorite coming out of spring ball is junior Stefan LeFors. The 6'2", 192-lb lefty is more mobile than Ragone. Hot behind him, though, are redshirt freshman Justin Rascati and incoming marvel, Michael Bush. Rascati has a bit more zip than LeFors, but Bush is the wild card. Insiders are saying that the only thing keeping Bush behind is his unfamiliarity with the Cardinal offense. Should he pick up quickly over the summer, you could be seeing this young man taking snaps as early as the Governor's Cup game against Kentucky.

If the offensive line doesn't take better care of the new QB, then it will be another long, painful season. The good news is that the line returns, in tact, four of five 2002 starters. The bad news is that they gave up the second-most sacks in the nation (43). This group will be deeper, so look for rotations and mobility to be the keys that prevent an encore level of performance.


WR/KR Broderick Clark (PHOTO CREDIT - Dave Klotz/Louisville Athletics)


Returning Starters in bold
QB Stefan LeFors-Jr Justin Rascati-Fr
RB Eric Shelton-So Lionel Gates-Jr / T.J. Patterson-Sr
WR J.R. Russell-Jr Victor Glenn-Sr
WR Joshua Tinch-Jr Antoine Harris-Jr
WR Broderick Clark-So Dontay Spillman-Sr
TE Ronnie Ghent-Sr Richard Owens-Sr
OT Travis Leffew-So Bubba Marshall-So
OG Jason Spitz-So Chad Pinkston-Sr
C Dan Koons-Sr Michael Sturgeon-Fr
OG Jerry Spencer-Sr P.J. Tavarczky-Fr
OT Jason Hilliard-Sr Renardo Foster-Fr
K Nate Smith-Sr ..



written by Tim Chapman

Teams found it hard to throw on the Louisville defense, completing only 48 percent of their passes against the Cards. Two of the top CUSA corners reside in Louisville, junior Laroni Gallishaw and senior Josh Minkins. Between them, they had two combined INTs (both to Minkins) but its simply a tribute to how much respect (and concern) opponents have for this tandem. Both apply constricting man-to-man coverage on the outside, funneling everything to the middle, and allowing the safeties to make/finish plays.

That being said, it is up to two new safeties to handle that downfield action. Departed middle-men Burns and Floyd combined for 202 tackles, 14 pass break-ups, and a third of the team's (paltry) nine INTs. The Cards have high hopes for replacements Kerry Rhodes, a junior, and sophomore Brent Johnson. These two will be aided by depth, primarily redshirt frosh Art Brown. If this group cannot handle the action that comes their way, the defense is in for an unpredictable ride. The key will be to create more turnovers in the secondary, as the DBs nabbed only seven of the Card's 2002 INTs.

Louisville finished with the second best rush defense in C-USA (17th in Div I-A), allowing only 113 yards per game (2.9 yards per carry). Gone, however, are the bookends that forced opposing teams up the middle. Such an approach didn't work for most, as tackles Tyrone Satterfield and Scott Lopez made RBs pay with physicality and pain. Both return to occupy (often double-teams) the middle and ease the burden for their new starting ends.

An integral part of this line will be junior Bobby Leffew. Leffew, possibly their most important front-seven defender, is an active lineman. His strength (to bring down runners) and athletic ability create havoc among any offensive front(s). 'Ville will use Leffew as both an end and tackle to confuse opposing lines and empower theirs. Still, lack of real-game experience remains a concern for this group.

The linebackers will only be as good as their front-seven allow. Senior WLB Rod Day (101 tackles) returns solid and respected by anyone playing offense. He has superb lateral movement and is a great open-field tackler (54 solo). Junior Robert McCune, who we think will fit just fine in this defense, will now occupy the middle. Joining Day on the outside is sophomore Brandon Johnson, who, though undersized, has the quickness to offset his stature.


LB Rod Day (PHOTO CREDIT - Dave Klotz/Louisville Athletics)


Returning Starters in bold
DE Marcus Jones-Jr Matt Sanders-Fr
DT Tyrone Saterfield-Jr Jeremy Segiun-So
DT Scott Lopez-Sr Brian Devine-So
DE Montavious Stanley-So Bobby Leffew-Jr
OLB Brandon Johnson-So Jonathon Jackerson-Jr
MLB Robert McCune-Jr John Cardoza-Jr
OLB Rod Day-Sr James Greene-Sr
CB Laroni Gallishaw-Jr Gavin Smart-Fr
CB Josh Minkins-Sr J.T. Haskins-Sr
SS Brent Johnson-So Ray Childs-Jr
FS Kerry Rhodes-Jr Abe Brown-Fr
P Wade Tydlacka-Sr Nate Smith-Sr




The Cardinals will have one of I-A's better special teams units. Senior kicker Nate Smith has improved consistency and affords Louisville a fabulous placement artist. His role as punter might be diminished - the resurgence of senior Wade Tydlacka was a pleasant surprise during the spring, averaging over 42 yards per in that controlled environment.

Stellar KR Broderick Clark was one of 2002's best (32 yards per return, 2 TDs). He is extremely elusive - once he makes that first defender miss, he's gone. With his potential emergence as an offensive star, it will be interesting to see how well he handles (or even if coaches assign him to) kick returning duties. Punt returns will be open audition, with Clark, Tinch, and soph WR Tiger Jones getting a look.