Defense looks to save face

The USF football team might have an opportunity to ease the pain of losing to one of the worst teams in college football this week — and it doesn’t include insisting Army is a good team.

The Bulls defense in particular will try to play well against one of college football’s best. It will have to rebound from a second-half meltdown against Army last week when it faces No. 15 Louisville at Cardinal Stadium.

“We see it as a challenge but we see it as a way to bounce back — to show everybody that the defense can still hit,” senior free safety Javan Camon said. “We had a setback but we’re still here. If we go out there and we win against Louisville, we can show everyone we’re still here and this is still South Florida.”

If USF is a program built on defense, it didn’t show against Army. The Bulls were up by two touchdowns deep into the third quarter but couldn’t hold the lead. Black Knight running back Carlton Jones scored on five consecutive possessions en route to a 42-35 win.

“Everybody on the team knows we shouldn’t have lost that game,” said middle linebacker Stephen Nicholas. “Everybody would be mad if you lost a game — you lose a Homecoming and you get angry.”

USF coach Jim Leavitt said he doesn’t expect many people to give the Bulls a chance against Louisville.

“It’s interesting,” Leavitt said. “When you lose a game like we did, you walk the hallways and nobody wants to look at you or talk to you. It’s like you’re carrying a disease and that’s just the way it is. But we’re still living, we’re still walking and breathing — all those things.

“It wasn’t Army, really. We don’t like losing to anybody, but it was the way it happened, they way we didn’t rally when we were up 14 three different times. It’s going to be real important to the character of our team to see how we handle it all. But we’ll go bang away and see what happens.”

On paper, Louisville is a much better team. The Cardinals come off one of the biggest games in school history. Up 24-7 at halftime against No. 3 Miami, the Cardinals dropped a heartbreaker to the Hurricanes 41-38.

The match-up showcases one of the nation’s best offenses against one of the worst. Louisville has the No. 3 offense in the country while the Bulls are ranked No. 92 out of 117 teams. The Cardinals average 504.4 yards per game while the Bulls are giving up 351.

A loss would give the Bulls their first three-game losing streak in team history.

Camon still has what happened against Army on his mind.

“It feels real bad after a loss like that, my first time ever losing a Homecoming game,” Camon said. “We’ve been just trying to keep everybody’s heads up.”