Louisville Football 2014- Answering the Questons
Cardinals fans are ready for ACC football. Its a new era for Louisville as 2014 ushers in a season like no other. The Cards welcome in a new conference, a new coaching staff and a new quarterback. Add all of this together and who knows what’s in store for this football team this season. I will break down their roster and schedule and hopefully come up with some answers.
Coaching staff: Charlie Strong and company are gone. Bobby Petrino is back. In his first stint at Louisville, Patrino went 41-9 overall and 22-1 at home while taking the Cards to their first BCS bowl. Garrick McGee is the new OC. McGee has been coaching since 1996 and worked with Patrino at Arkansas. Todd Grantham is the new DC. Granthem has been coaching since 1990 at the college and NFL levels. His NFL experience spands a decade with the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns. He was the DC at Georgia from 2010-13. Terrell Buckley will coach the CBs. Buckley was the fifth overall NFL draft pick in 1992. He played in the NFL from 1992-2005, winning Super Bowl XXXVI. He began his coaching career in 2007 at Florida State.
Offense: The key loss here is QB Teddy Bridgewater, who is now taking naps with the Minnesota Vikings as their 1st rd selection. Starting RB Senorise Perry and WR Damian Copeland are gone as well. Conservative OC Shawn Watson joined Strong at Texas.
The main question on offense is how many points will they average with Patrino back on the sideline. Will Gardner will replace Teddy Bridgewater at QB. While the Cards do have depth at QB no one has any significant experience at this level. Will did throw for over 500 yards in the spring game but he hasn’t seen much game time since he was a junior in high school. Local freshman sensation and four star recruit Reggie Bonnafon has earned the backup spot. He has been compared to Teddy in high school.
Devante Parker is the star on the offense and is ranked among the best WR in the country. Porker recently suffered an injury and his status for the season is unknown. Look for So WR James Quick to play a more vital role this season, especially with Parker injured. The Cards have quality depth at the WR and RB positions. Among the WR are Eli Rogers, Kai De La Cruz and Michaelee Harris. Dominique Brown took the lead RB role late last season and he should lead the way again this year as well. Auburn transfer Michael Dyer will be back for his second season with the Cardinals and he will need to return to his MVP condition during his freshman NC season to help relieve the pressure off of Gardner. TE Gerald Christian should also prove to be a valuable weapon for the QB. The OL for once will have depth and experience this season.
Defense: despite losing seven starters from last season the defense should still be solid. The key losses here are DE Markus Smith (1st rd Phil), CB Calvin Pryor (1st rd NYJ), LB Preston Brown (3rd rd Buff), DT Roy Philon, NT Brandon Dunn, LB George Durant and SS Hakeem Smith. Grantham will change the Cards defensive scheme to the 3-4. With all of the losses on the DL this is perfect timing. The starting DL is strong, lead by BJ DuBose but the backups consist mostly of redshirt freshman. The LB unit is the strongest on the defense since Lorenzo Mauldin decided to return for his senior season to lead this grouo. Deiontrez Mount, Keith Brown and James Burgess are quality veterans who will join Mauldin to anchor the front seven.
The loss of hard hitting Calvin Pryor at CB is a big blow to the Cards secondary but Charles Games has proven his worth. The quality depth at the corners keeps this unit strong. The biggest concern during the offseason has been finding answers at the safety positions. FS Gerod Holliman will get a chance to live up to his recruiting hype. CB Terrell Floyd may help solidify this group made up of juco transfers and under classmen. There is talent here but not much experience beyond junior Jermaine Reve.
9-1 Miami W 1-0 (Monday night)
Both teams will start new QB & the Cards will be without Parker. The Cards win by stopping the Canes run game. I will preview this game in a later post.
9-6 Murray State 35-10 W 2-0
After five days of rest they will need this game.
9-13 @ Virginia 31-17 W 3-0
QB Gardner should be in a groove buy now, cards superior talent prevails.
9-20 @ FIU 41-13 W 4-0
Gives the Cardinals a breather after Virginia.
9-27 Wake Forest 38-17 W 5-0
Cards come into their own in this battle of new coaches, advantage Petrino.
10-3 @ Syracuse 44-35 W 6-0
This will be a good road test to prepare for Clemson. Parker returns for this shootout.
10-18 @ Clemson 14-24 L 6-1
This tough road test with injuries is to much.
10-18 NC State 24-21 W 7-1
Rebound game for Cards. Wolfpack may catch them looking ahead to FSU.
10-30 Florida St 24-38 L 7-2
The defending national champs come to town to face a fired up crowd and team on a Thursday night.
11-8 @ Boston Coll 17-24 L 7-3
Adazio catches at deflated Cards licking their wounds.
11-22 @ Notre Dame 38-35 W 8-3
Cards are fired up and want to end their losing streak.
11-25 Kentucky 38-17 W 9-3
Normally the opener, both teams will be feeling the effects of the season.
Outlook: This is more than likely the Cards toughest schedule in school history. For them to be successful they will need depth. The loss of WR Parker for about 6 weeks will be their first test of their depth. While they have many weapons on offense, Parker is in another league. They can go about 9 deep on the OL so that will help new QB Gardner and open up some holes for a talented stable of RB. Dyer production will help determine if this will be an average or an extraordinary season. Strong conservative offense will give way to a more exciting, full throttle brand of Petrino ball.
On the defensive side I think they have found the answers they were looking for in the secondary. The inexperience in the depth of the DL may prove to be a major factor as the season develops. This is my main concern for the team. The schedule is set up to where they can find all of their answers through the first five games. If they can do this then they should be able to handle the strong tests in the second half of their schedule. Anything less than eight wins will be a disappointment.