Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Petrino outshines Brooks in coaching debuts

By Chris Duncan
The Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Louisville coach Bobby Petrino couldn't have asked for a better debut. Kentucky coach Rich Brooks faces a tough week to ponder his.

From the start to the finish of the Cardinals' 40-24 win over the Wildcats on Sunday night, Petrino - in his first game as a head coach - outshined Brooks, who came in with 18 seasons of college coaching experience under his belt.

"It was a lot of fun," Petrino said. "I had a good time doing it."

Following an 83-minute weather delay, the Cardinals (1-0) took the opening kickoff and glided down the field in 11 plays. Louisville quarterback Stefan LeFors went 3-for-4 on the drive and running back Eric Shelton capped it with a crowd-silencing six-yard touchdown run.

"They were really focused," Petrino said. "Our players were into the game."

Kentucky's first possession wasn't nearly as smooth. Brooks' much-ballyhooed experiment with quarterbacks Jared Lorenzen and Shane Boyd fizzled immediately, with Boyd lofting an interception to Louisville's Gavin Smart. The Cardinals quickly turned the miscue into a 14-0 lead.

At times in the game, Lorenzen lined up as a wide receiver; on other plays, Boyd joined Lorenzen in the backfield as a running back. But neither quarterback caught a pass and the duo combined to rush for only six yards.

Brooks said he will continue to use Boyd and Lorenzen together.

"We didn't have as much success on some things as we would've liked, but all of those things are still going to be a part of it in the future," Brooks said.

Louisville's defense was a factor in Kentucky's offensive woes. The Cardinals' defensive line shredded the Wildcat's offensive front, harassing Lorenzen most of the game and limiting Kentucky to 108 rushing yards.

"Our defense did a great job. They look quick to me," Petrino said.

Kentucky's special-teams mistakes also aided the Cardinals.

Early in the second quarter, Louisville's J.R. Russell flew past Kentucky's punt coverage and swatted Sevin Sucorovic's punt attempt 40 yards backwards. Louisville linebacker Jonathan Jackerson pounced on the loose ball in the end zone and the Cardinals led 21-3.

Early in the third quarter, Sucorovic bobbled a long snap and the ball bounced out of the end zone for a Louisville safety.

Petrino, a meticulous game planner, took advantage of rumors he heard about Kentucky's shaky punting game.

"It was publicized that they had snap problems," Petrino said, "so we were coming after them on every punt."

Lorenzen still managed to lead a dramatic Kentucky comeback, eluding tacklers and making some miraculous throws in the second half. The Cardinals recaptured their poise just in time, chewing up 5:47 with a 14-play touchdown drive bridging the third and fourth quarters.

"Kentucky played hard. We were more ready to play," said LeFors, who was making his first college start.

Lorenzen drove the Wildcats into Louisville territory again, but Josh Minkins ended the threat with a game-sealing interception with 8:17 left in the game.

Minkins credited defensive coordinator Mike Gillhamer with getting the Cardinals ready for anything.

"Everything they did, we practiced against," said Minkins.

The Cardinals drove for one more touchdown as Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich congratulated Petrino on the sideline, broad smiles on both men's faces.

Brooks, meanwhile, was left with many questions to answer before Saturday's game against Murray State (1-0).

"It's a tough way to come out of the barrel, but it's not the end of the world," Brooks said. "We've got 11 games left."

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