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Louisville Newspapers / Articles

The last few paragraphs from Sunday's article:

Read On:

Petrino said his team was outplayed in every phase.

"South Florida did a nice job," he said. "They had a good game plan. They played faster than we did. They hit harder than we did. Basically, we got outcoached and outplayed."

Now, having suffered the program's most disappointing loss since a season-opening defeat to Kentucky in 2002, the Cards turned their attention immediately to what comes next: Florida Atlantic and former U of L coach Howard Schnellenberger in Saturday's homecoming game.
"There's still a lot of football to play," Petrino said. "? This will challenge where we're at as a team and what kind of leadership we have as a team. We're either going to come together or we're going to fall apart. I'm hoping we're going to come together."

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From the Courier-Journal, Louisville:

* * *
Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Wakeup call has Petrino psyched

Toughness, focus called into question

By Eric Crawford
[email protected]
The Courier-Journal

Early yesterday morning, a camera crew showed up at the University of Louisville football complex to begin taping all-access footage for ESPN's show, "The Season."

The Cardinals still have one, despite their 45-14 loss to South Florida on Saturday night.

"Each morning you get up, you get to make your own decision of what kind of attitude you're going to have," U of L coach Bobby Petrino said. "So I've been trying to convince myself all day to be real positive and energetic. And that's really what we're going to need to do this week."

Petrino admitted that Sunday as the coaches and team went over tape of the South Florida loss, "There weren't a lot of positive things in the building, but I think we will bounce back. … It's certainly going to wake everybody up and make sure that we understand you don't just go out and win."

South Florida was named the national team of the week yesterday by the Football Writers Association of America. U of L will have to endure time as yesterday's news, unless it can play its way back into the limelight.

To do that, Petrino said, they have to be tougher than they showed Saturday.

"That's the one thing that got questioned the other night is how tough we were," Petrino said. "And that's something we've prided ourselves on the past two years."

In breaking down the game, Petrino didn't have to wait long to point to the key sequence. He said things began to slip away on the first three possessions.

The Cards drove on each possession but then stalled. They didn't connect on an open fourth-down pass from the USF 31 on the first drive. On the second they drove to the 10-yard line and missed an open receiver who would have scored a touchdown, got sacked and missed a 32-yard field?goal attempt.

Down 7-0, they drove into USF territory on their third possession but fumbled at the Bulls' 34.

"We had the ball almost the entire quarter, drove down there twice in position to score, did things that were uncharacteristic of us and weren't able to get the ball in the end zone," Petrino said. "If we score twice there, it might have been a different game, because it puts the pressure on them to throw the ball a little bit more. That was the biggest thing – we did not force them to throw the football because we didn't score on offense. That's really the way it opened up."

It also was not a good game for the U of L offensive line, which was expected to be the strength of the team.

"We did not block the front in the run game or the pass game the way we need to," Petrino said. "We will definitely improve there."

The special teams also struggled, botching a kickoff and allowing a 94-yard kickoff return to start the second half.

"That's a major concern," Petrino said. "We have not done well on special teams in any phase. We're going to put more of our starters on the kickoff return team, a lot of guys who did a good job last year who now are in a starting role and you'd like them not to have to be on it – guys like the Sharp brothers and Abe Brown. But we have no choice."

Petrino said that the coaches are evaluating the way they prepared the team last week, but that's difficult to do. Petrino varies little in the style of his preparation from week to week, meaning the coaches did the same things before last week's game that they did before the blowout win over Oregon State.

Petrino said he thought the team looked prepared on its first few drives, at least offensively. But things disintegrated once South Florida got the momentum. At halftime, though trailing 24-7, Petrino told his coaches he didn't want to stop using Michael Bush and Kolby Smith in the running game. When South Florida scored 14 more points in the first five minutes of the second half, he had no choice.

In many respects, the major challenge is mental. How well the Cards will absorb the blow to their greatest aspiration and focus on the little things they must fix to get back on track.

"This is the first game I remember where we did things to beat ourselves," Petrino said. "Penalties. Turnovers. The third drive in the first quarter, we're moving and everything's clicking, and (tight end) Gary (Barnidge) fumbles. There was something we did on each drive to keep ourselves from scoring points.

With former Cardinals coach Howard Schnellenberger and his Florida Atlantic team coming in Saturday for a noon matchup, Petrino said "the best way we can show respect to him is to prepare well and play football the way the Louisville Cardinals are supposed to play it."

He said for anyone who thinks that the season has little left to offer – stay tuned.

"It has not ended. No way," Petrino said. "We'll be back. We're looking forward to the challenge and to coming back."
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Great Quote from Petrino

 It's certainly going to wake everybody up and make sure that we understand you don't just go out and win."

The team that works the hardest usually wins.
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University of Louisville Football Notebook
Cards now land in ESPN 'Bottom 10'

ESPN giveth, and ESPN taketh away.

The network upon whose exposure the University of Louisville built its football program wasted no time pulling the hype from under the Cardinals' feet after Saturday's 45-14 loss at South Florida.

ESPN.com rewarded the Cards by including them in its weekly "Bottom 10" of college football. It wasn't really calling them one of the 10 worst teams in the nation. It was giving them "the coveted No. 5 spot" reserved for a team that falls conspicuously flat on its face.

Oklahoma got the same recognition after losing its opener to Texas Christian, which got it a week later when it lost to Southern Methodist. Stanford was tagged after losing its home opener to California Davis.

ESPN.com college football editor David Duffey chose the following song lyric for his inspirational thought of the week: "If there's sharks in the water, don't swim where it's deep / For the taste of success can be bitter and sweet." The song: Elton John's "House of Cards."

Petrino again laments big plays
It's becoming a familiar theme that U of L coach Bobby Petrino is visibly tired of having to address. The Cards are giving up big plays in big bunches, including a 57-yard pass, a 94-yard punt return and two reverses for touchdowns at South Florida.

Petrino is revamping his kickoff return team and continuing to work with the secondary, but the reverses were particularly frustrating because the Cards had the right defense called both times – a back-side blitz – but the blitzer wasn't in the right place either time.

"Both of them were when guys just didn't do their responsibilities," Petrino said.

There were similar tales on offense.

"We had some things there that we didn't execute – a guy here and there," he said. "That's what happens when you don't score. It's usually a one-guy breakdown, and that's something we haven't done much of around here."

Petrino, when the first reporter to question him on Monday's Big East coaches' teleconference asked him how he was doing: "I've been better."

Brohm in a brace ? but not hurt
If you've noticed quarterback Brian Brohm wearing a brace on his left knee, don't panic. Petrino suggested the device after Brohm took a nasty hit while planting the leg to throw a touchdown pass against Oregon State. The brace is there to stabilize the knee in case it gets hit awkwardly.

"That's something that a lot of quarterbacks wear as a preventative measure," Petrino said. "That was really my decision, to look into putting that on. (Southern California quarterback Matt Leinhart) wears one. A lot of pocket passers wear it. You wear it on your plant leg. When you plant that knee, some of these defensive linemen, when they leave their block to make a tackle, they go down low. But his knee's good."

Petrino said the rest of Brohm's game also is good despite a few mistakes at South Florida. The sophomore's 757 passing yards over the past two games are the Cards' best back-to-back total since Chris Redman had 983 in 1998.

"Brian missed some things – a couple of things in protection and a couple of open routes, particularly one early where the ball slipped out of his hand and it could have been an easy touchdown," Petrino said. "But I'll tell you this: He's an extremely tough young man, a great competitor, and he can be my quarterback any day."

South Florida still enjoying win
South Florida still is enjoying its landmark victory. Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden hopped up onto a table at One Buc Place on Monday and yelled, "How 'bout them Bulls?"

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I highlighted the Brohm's brace section. Maybe that will slow him down a bit on his releases.
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Louisville Newspapers / Articles

U of L's corners must turn a corner
Whitt's weary of seeing big plays against them

By Eric Crawford
[email protected]
The Courier-Journal

Some might say that Joe Whitt Jr. has one of the toughest jobs in Louisville this week.

The 27-year-old son of a longtime coach is cornerbacks coach for the University of Louisville football team. The No. 24-ranked Cardinals (2-1) have allowed 253 passing yards per game, which ranks 77th in NCAA Division I-A.

Even more alarming are the deep completions given up by the defensive backs. It happened again during Saturday's 45-14 loss at South Florida, when the Bulls got a 57-yard completion to set up a touchdown on their first possession.

There were completions of 53 and 34 yards by Kentucky in the opener. Oregon State had a 31-yarder. Then there have been the pass-interference penalties – two at South Florida.

"We're not playing where I expect us to be playing," Whitt said. "It's that simple. I can say whatever I want to, but you've got to produce back there. Last year we had Kerry Rhodes and Antoine Harris, and they led the conference in passes defended. We're not anywhere near it, so I'm not happy with our play."

William Gay has started 17 games at cornerback, and the coaches know he can perform. But he was credited with just one tackle and no pass breakups against South Florida and had none against Kentucky. Rod Council, a redshirt freshman who earned a starting spot after the opener, has broken up one pass. Junior Gavin Smart, who was expected to be a key contributor in the secondary, has yet to break up a pass.

In U of L's system the cornerbacks are crucial. The Cardinals "stack the box" to stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback, which leaves the cornerbacks on the edge to defend receivers one-on-one. If they don't cover well, it can be a long day.

"That's why they came here," Whitt said. "If they wanted to play zone, they'd have gone somewhere else."

Head coach Bobby Petrino said the corners have been close on a number of big plays. They're covering receivers but aren't making plays on the ball when it arrives. Of the two interference penalties at South Florida, U of L coaches agreed with one call but said after reviewing the tape that the other was good coverage. Regardless, going for the ball has been at a premium in practice this week.

"We're in position," said senior strong safety Antoine Sharp, who leads the team with three passes broken up. "We just have to start doing a better job playing the ball. We just have to."

Because of the nature of the job, a cornerback must have confidence, and Whitt said he doesn't think his guys have lost any of it.

"We've had a great week of practice," he said. "They're getting their swagger back. I believe their play will improve this week. I've been real hard on them, so they might be a little mad at me."

The cornerbacks aren't the only ones getting an earful about big plays. Defensive coordinator Mike Cassity has been on his entire unit about eliminating the big gains that have hurt the Cards in all three games. South Florida gained 157 yards – 44 percent of its total – on just three snaps.

"On the rest of their plays, none was longer than 18 yards," Cassity said. "But those big ones count, and we can't have that to be the kind of defense we need to be. And it's hard to see all the positives when you see those big plays.

"This group is not used to losing. It bothers everybody out here. Everybody can be bummed out for a day, but we've had to turn the page. We can rationalize or whatever, but the thing I told our guys is we cannot change Saturday night. We had a whole week to change Saturday night. We had 3? hours to change Saturday night. Now what we've got to do is look ahead."

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Pretty nice column on the coach. From the Courier-Journal, Louisville:

* * *
Friday, September 30, 2005

By Rick Bozich

He's the master of makeovers
Schnellenberger set U of L on way

Every time Howard Schnellenberger has made a move on the college football coaching carousel, Christ Vagotis has hopped along – Miami, Louisville, Oklahoma and now Florida Atlantic. Vagotis, Schnellenberger's defensive line coach, has indeed asked himself the question every student of Schnellenberger asks:

How many national championship rings would the coach be flashing if he had stayed at Miami?

"At least 10," Vagotis said. "No, 11. One for each finger and one for the nose."

Gary Nord, another Schnellenberger assistant, believes that if the coach had remained at the University of Louisville he'd also be ordering jewelry.

"You try not to look back, but it's hard not to," Nord said. "He did great things at Louisville. I don't have any doubt he would have done more. He put that program on the map."

Howard Schnellenberger is coming to Louisville this weekend. He'll be inducted into the U of L athletic Hall of Fame tonight. He'll coach his latest long-shot project – Florida Atlantic University football – against the Cardinals at noon tomorrow in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

Schnellenberger, 71, is coming home, where even Bobby Petrino's Cardinals should pause to applaud him for the work he did to create the program they're enjoying.

He's coming back to the stadium that he pushed and pushed for but never played in. Back to the city that he taught to dream but left before his ultimate dream was realized. Back to a program that he built, but with another program that remains under development.

Fixer-uppers. That is Schnellenberger's niche market. Throw out that one bizarre misfit season at Oklahoma in 1995. Wherever Schnellenberger has gone, he's started with scraps. And wherever he's done construction work, he's won – and then reached for his hard hat and moved on.

"I guess you could say that I've just taken a few bad jobs," Schnellenberger said with a laugh. "I wish things would have worked out differently at Louisville.

"The vision I had for the school is about to be completed. It's just too bad we didn't get to move to the Big East Conference at the outset. Going to Conference USA is the only reason I left (for Oklahoma, following the 1994 season). I wasn't interested in playing in that league."

Vision for Florida Atlantic

He's working with an artificial knee. He's put away his pipe. But Schnellenberger is still working from the same playbook he started at Miami and then revised at U of L. He is asking the people at Florida Atlantic and in the Boca Raton area to dream in ways they have never dreamed before.

He is asking them to believe that Florida Atlantic, a 41-year-old commuter school with 26,000 students stretched over seven South Florida campuses, can become a Top 25 program in the next five seasons.

But with Schnellenberger the dream is always more complex than that. It's always more than that, always something grand. He is asking them to consider the value of constructing a $110 million, 40,000-seat, Syracuse-style domed stadium for his football team as well as coach Matt Doherty's basketball team.

He is asking them to trust him when he says that Florida Atlantic can become as dynamic and competitive as Miami (where he won the 1983 national title) or Louisville (where he punctuated the 1990 season by winning the Fiesta Bowl against Alabama).

"Every time I hear him talk I want to go out there and hit somebody," Doherty said. "When I was thinking about taking this job, Howard's enthusiasm and vision convinced me this school was on the move."

"Coach doesn't act 71," said Danny Embick, Florida Atlantic's quarterback. "I don't know of another 71-year-old out there in the middle of practice getting knocked down.

"Six or seven years ago he was saying some of that stuff and people wondered what he was talking about because Florida Atlantic didn't even have a team. But he's making it happen."

Yes, he is – again. At Miami, there was talk the school might drop football before Schnellenberger arrived in 1979. Five seasons later the Hurricanes defeated Nebraska for the national title in the Orange Bowl.

At Louisville, there had been talk of dropping football a couple of years before former athletic director Bill Olsen and businessman Malcolm Chancey recruited Schnellenberger before the 1985 season. Ten seasons later U of L had celebrated victories in the Fiesta and Liberty bowls and scored regular-season victories against Texas, Arizona State and Boston College.

Schnellenberger disagreed with the school's decision to abandon its independent status to join Conference USA. Oklahoma needed a coach. For once, Schnellenberger took control of a ready-made power – and it was a terrible fit. He was asked to leave after one turbulent 5-5-1 season.

Time to start working on his football obituary. He'd be remembered as a coach who built a marvelous program at Miami and another solid one at Louisville but made impulsive and regrettable decisions to leave both jobs.

If he had stayed at Miami he would have won multiple national championships. If he had stayed at Louisville, he would have been embraced forever by Cardinals fans who felt fortunate to have him.

Tough job

"Other people might look back, but I try not to," Schnellenberger said. "There's no doubt Louisville would have been a great place to retire, but that's not how it played out. The only thing I wish is that I was bringing a better, veteran team to play the Cardinals."

Indeed. This is Schnellenberger's seventh year at Florida Atlantic. This is a school where the most famous alumnus isn't Michael Irvin (Miami) or Johnny Unitas (Louisville). It's Scott Thompson.


Don't think quarterback. Think Hollywood. Think "Carrot Top," the nitwit comedian.

Can you hear Schnellenberger now? He worked the first two seasons organizing his staff, gathering recruits and telling South Florida his plans. In their third season in Division I-AA, the Owls finished 11-3 and advanced to the national semifinals. The Owls defeated an NCAA Division I-A opponent – Middle Tennessee – in their 22nd game.

"You could argue this job has been tougher than Louisville," Vagotis said. "At Louisville, at least you had players, fans and a practice facility. Here Coach started with nothing. Nothing."

Last season FAU finished 9-3 in the first of two years as a transitional Division I-A program. Schnellenberger lost 32 seniors from that squad. His 2005 team is inexperienced and overscheduled. The Owls' 0-4 record includes losses to Kansas, Oklahoma State and Minnesota. He starts 14 freshmen and sophomores.

"We're playing way over our heads," Schnellenberger said. "But that's OK. We did the same thing at Louisville. It's going to make us a better football team in three or four years."

Know this: Schnellenberger plans to be the coach in three or four years. His last contract extension includes the 2009 season. He likes to joke that he'll watch how long Joe Paterno remains at Penn State and Bobby Bowden works at Florida State. "Then I'll go a few years after they retire because they're older," he said.

After 35 years of dreaming, Schnellenberger and his wife, Beverlee, finally moved into a home overlooking the Atlantic Ocean this year. The best news is they were able to bring their middle son, Stephen, home with them. For nearly two years he had lived in a Miami hospital with a debilitating disease that affects his endocrine system.

"As long as I feel I can be productive, I'll be here," Schnellenberger said. "There's still a lot of work to do"

With Howard Schnellenberger, there always is.

You can reach Rick Bozich at (502) 582-4650 or [email protected] Submit questions at courier-journal.com/bozich.


Year Record
1985 2-9
1986 3-8
1987 3-7-1
1988 8-3
1989 6-5
1990 10-1-1
1991 2-9
1992 5-6
1993 9-3
1994 6-5
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From the Lexington, Ky., Herald-Leader:

* * *

Posted on Thu, Sep. 29, 2005

Ex-U of L coach returns with FAU team
Schnellenberger to be honored, then face fired-up Cards

By Russ Brown

LOUISVILLE ? Former University of Louisville football coach Howard Schnellenberger will be a guest of honor this weekend when he brings Florida Atlantic to Louisville for a noon game in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

He will be inducted into the U of L Athletic Hall of Fame Friday night, then will be honored Saturday prior to kickoff.

Too bad the game itself doesn't figure to be much fun for Schnellenberger, who knows his Owls (0-4) will be walking into a hornet's nest against a Cardinal team still licking its wounds from a startling and costly 45-14 upset loss at South Florida last Saturday.

"Their mindset has to be one of real frustration and astonishment, unbelieving of what happened to them because I don't believe anybody in the country thought they would go down there and lose to South Florida," Schnellenberger said. "That's certainly going to put the Cardinals into a very unfriendly posture, wanting to make sure that's not going to happen again. They will be a very intent group."

'Unfriendly posture' is probably putting it mildly. The Cardinals (2-1) are likely to be in an extremely nasty state of mind after dropping from the top 10 to Nos. 22 and 24 in the national polls and seeing their hoped-for perfect season ruined by a three-touchdown underdog picked to finish near the bottom of the Big East Conference.

U of L coach Bobby Petrino said the best way to honor Schnellenberger's legacy at Louisville is "to show him respect by going out and playing a great game the way the Louisville Cardinals need to."

Schnellenberger, a former All-American and assistant coach at the University of Kentucky, coached from 1985-94 at U of L, compiling a 54-56-2 record. His most notable accomplishment came in 1990 when he led the Cards to a 10-1-1 record and a 34-7 upset win over Alabama in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl.

Although Papa John's wasn't built until several years after he left Louisville for Oklahoma, Schnellenberger played a key role in providing the impetus and fund-raising for the stadium.

Prior to 1998, U of L played its home games in old Cardinal Stadium at the Fairgrounds. Schnellenberger's first three seasons ended in losing records, 2-9 in 1985 followed by 3-8 and 3-7-1 before campaigns of 8-3 and 6-5 against strong schedules set the stage for the 1990 breakthrough season.

The 8-3 mark in 1988 broke a string of nine straight losing seasons for U of L under three coaches ? Vince Gibson, Bob Weber and Schnellenberger.

"We had to go through some hard knocks of developing a team in a situation where there were only four or five Division I players there when we got there," Schnellenberger said. "We brought in kids to build a team with, including 15 or 16 from south Florida, in our first season, and 13 or 14 had to start as true freshmen. We got wore out for three years until our first group became seniors and we were able to beat some very good teams and go 8-3."

Schnellenberger says the building process at FAU has been much different because he had to start the program from scratch. The Owls didn't play their first game until 2001 and they are in their second season as a provisional NCAA Division 1-A team. Schnellenberger was hired by FAU as director of football operations and ordered to find and hire a head coach. After several months, he named himself coach, prompting wags to call it "Howard Schnellenberger's national search for Howard Schnellenberger."

"At FAU, we've had to do the things necessary to get the program recognized as a legitimate program, raise money for it, get it recognized by the (state) Board of Regents and recruit football players for a non-existent team. We assembled a skeleton coaching staff and began that process. This is a long, long-term process."

In FAU's first season as a provisional 1-A team in the Sun Belt Conference last year, the Owls finished 9-3. The previous season FAU advanced to the semifinals of the 1-AA playoffs before losing to Colgate 36-24. But the current FAU team is in no shape to take on a program of Louisville's caliber, having lost 28 seniors from last year's team.

The Owls' starting offensive and defensive lineups consist of seven freshmen, six sophomores, six juniors and only three seniors. The backups consist mostly of freshmen and sophomores. FAU's losses have come against Kansas (30-19), Oklahoma State (23-3), No. 18 Minnesota (46-7) and Louisiana-Monroe (28-21).

"When you go from 1-AA to 1-A you go from 63 scholarship players to 85 and it's impossible to go from that first group and then have a full group of experienced guys to get ready for the next year. So we're in that dip where last year we were the most experienced team in the country and this year we're the least experienced."

That, of course, doesn't say much for FAU's chances to keep the score against U of L even marginally respectable. But Schnellenberger says he's just going to try to enjoy the weekend festivities and is looking forward to his trip back to Louisville, where he graduated from Flaget High and still has many friends, both from his youth and his U of L coaching days. This will make it a Hall of Fame grand slam in the state for Schnellenberger, who is already a member of the Kentucky Hall of Fame and the UK Hall of Fame.

"This will be a big event for me and my family," Schnellenberger said. "I'm delighted they want to induct me into the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, it comes on the eve of the game, so I have mixed emotions. This is really a very unusual situation. I'm just hopeful it's not going to be distractive for my staff and players. We'll get a good night's sleep, get up at 8 a.m. and get ready to play."

Petrino and Schnellenberger have never met as head coaches, but Petrino was the quarterbacks coach at Arizona State in 1992 and 1993 when the Sun Devils played U of L. ASU won 19-0 in Tempe in 1992, mauling U of L quarterback Jeff Brohm so badly he looked as if he had been in a prize fight.

But the Cards won the rematch in '93 in Cardinal Stadium, 35-17.

Brohm is now U of L's quarterbacks coach and says one thing the Cards can count on Saturday is facing a "tough, hard-nosed football team."

"Coach Schnellenberger is the type of coach who makes believers out of his players who don't believe," Brohm said. "He works his teams hard and always brings a hard-nosed football team to the table. He sets the bar high and really gets his teams to believe they can accomplish anything."

Petrino said he has met Schnellenberger but doesn't know him well.

"I talked to him when he was here for the Derby," Petrino said. "You always feel like you know coaches better than you really do because you've been following them so long and listening to them. At age 70, I could never imagine sitting here in front of the press talking. The building part, I might be able to do that when I'm 70. I'm not sure I'd do this real well.

"Howard is really good at it. He's going to have a really good club down there. The greatest thing he has is patience and the commitment to do it. When he came here he had some good years, but he also had to fight through the years that weren't so good. The key for him now is the location is really good. He can get good players and it's a nice place to live. He was really smart."
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Out of curiosity, does anyone know what happened to Louisville in 1991, the year after they went 10-1-1? Did Howard stack the 1990 team full of seniors? Was 1991 for Louisville the same as 2005 is for FAU, a rebuilding year?
I'm looking at the record 2 posts up.

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