Now that we all know the "L." in John L. Smith's name stands for "Louisville," we've got to find out just what the former Utah State coach's new team stands for as it comes to Salt Lake City to help the University of Utah open its new Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday night.
In his U. of Lou coaching debut last week, Smith's Cards christened their new Papa John's Cardinal Stadium with a 68-34 loss to rival Kentucky.That left Louisville with the NCAA's No. 6 pass offense (368.0) and fourth-best individual in total offense (quarterback Chris Redman, 368 yards). It also left Smith's Cards with the No. 104-ranked total defense after giving up a school-record 801 yards and No. 104 scoring defense .
That defense was shredded by Heisman candidate Tim Couch. Smith says Couch's ability to find second and third options is "what really hurt us. We weren't very disciplined." He was so upset at his defense he equated it with "girls" and "sissies" in public postgame comments for which he later wrote a public letter of apology.
By Saturday, Louisville will have gone 364 days without a win, 0-9 dating back to a Sept. 13, 1997, win over Illinois a week after Utah beat the Cards 27-21. They were 1-10 in '97.
Utah quarterback Darnell Ar-cen-eaux says Louisville's defense is not that bad. "I think they were a little bit confused on assignments, probably from the transition of playing a different defense last year and playing this flex defense. A lot of guys are out of position," Arceneaux says. "You've got a lot of running backs playing safeties and such.
"I know Smith made them run and got them (ticked) off to try to beat our butts. We know how they feel losing their home opener," he said, recalling how Smith's Aggies beat Utah in '96 and '97 in season openers.
Offensively, the Cards are well-stocked. Redman broke UL's single-season records for attempts, completions and yardage as a sophomore.