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Big East Preview: Louisville Cardinals

We continue to roll through the Big East. Next stop, Louisville. In case you missed West Virginia and Syracuse, click the names.

Coach: Charlie Strong is the new Louisville head man. He takes over for the terrible Steve Kragthorpe. Strong was the defensive coordinator at Florida. He brings a whole new staff up north. Mike Sanford was the head coach for the last 5 years at UNLV, now he brings the spread offense to the Cards. Vance Bedford was an assistant with Strong at Florida, and now he’s the defensive coordinator. Former Florida State star, and Bengals WR Ron Dugans is the Louisville receivers coach. I didn’t know he was a coach either.

QB: Chuck Strong hasn’t announced who will start, but all indications point to senior Adam Froman. Froman started 6 games last season. He put up 111-165, for 1,354 yards, 6 TDs and 5 INTs. He is above average with the feet, with 6 runs in 5 of his starts. He had at least a 10 yard run in 4 of those games. He ran 41 times once you take out sacks. He’s challenged by senior Justin Burke. Burke started the first 3 games of the year, and played mop up duty in one. His stats were 49-97, 654, 3 TDs, 5 INTs. Former, I think, walk on sophomore Will Stein is the third man in the race. He started twice, and had 2 games of bench work, going 43-78, 450, 1 INT. None of the three have strong arms, but with the spread, the Cards look to avoid that disadvantage. Winton Woods product Dominique Brown is also a quaterback at Louisville. The QBs have to be better for Louisville to make a turnaround. 9 TDs won’t cut it.

RB: The Cardinals strength on offense are the running backs. They return junior Victor Anderson, who two seasons ago was Big East Rookie of the Year. Anderson had a down year last season battling injuries, going for just 473 yards and 5 TDs. Anderson still averaged 5.3 yards a carry, but only had 270 yards the last 6 games he played. He is backed up by Bilal Powell. Powell is a senior who has gotten touches every season. He had 108 for 392 yards and 4 TDs last season. But, he was down to 3.6 yards a carry and had trouble holding on to the ball at times. Powell will be pushed in his back up duties by redshirt freshman Jeremy Wright. Wright impressed in the spring, but has been banged up with knee issues and a sports hernia.

WR: The Cardinals return some experience at wide receiver. They don’t return a whole lot of success though. Doug Beaumont is the returning leading receiver. The senior had 38-465 last season. He’s yet to score a touchdown in his 3 seasons. Beaumont is flanked by senior Troy Pascley. Pascley had 4 catches last season. He’s got only 16-287-4 TDs for his career. Sophomore Andrell Smith is the third receiver listed. Smith was mainly used on special teams last year, and has no stats. The back ups are Scott Radcliff (1 catch), Josh Bellamy (0 catches), Jacques Caldwell (0), and freshman Michaelee Harris. Junior Josh Chichester is listed at tight end, but has no position set as of yet. Josh is 6’9, but raw. He caught 17-202-2 TDs last season as a receiver.

TE: The Cardinals bring back 2 senior tight ends in Cameron Graham and Pete Nochta. Graham caught 27-323-2 TDs last season. Nochta is mainly a blocker, who had a 48 yard catch against UConn last season. Graham figures to be a big part of the receiving game this season. Also listed at tight end, as mentioned earlier, is Chichester.

O-Line: Louisville’s entire line are seniors, and a sophomore who started every game last season. From left to right, the Cards put out Byron Stingily, who if I remember correctly, was a penalty machine at inopportune times, Mark Wetterer, soph Mario Benavides, Conrad Thomas and Greg Tomczyk. They are backed up by a couple of juniors, a senior in Jeff Adams who started the last two seasons and will probably start this year but on the current depth chart is listed as the back up, and redshirt freshman Kamran Joyner. The line was decent with the rush attack, but incredibly shitty as pass blocking. The QBs sucked last year yes, but so did the line.

D-Line: The Cardinals d line was a problem last season. They were small, and now they are smaller. The weights are 230, 241, 260, 250, 286, that’s just not big enough against some of the monster lines of the Big East. The Cards trot out junior Greg Scruggs, who had 6.5 tackles for loss last season, junior William Savoy, who had 5 sacks, senior Malcolm Tatum and senior Tim High. Red shirt freshmen Roy Philon, and Malcolm Mitchell, JUCO sophomore Randy Salmon and freshman Brandon Dunn are the inexperienced back ups. Senior Ronald Gnat will get some run as well.

LB: Like the defensive line, the Louisville linebackers are a little on the small side. Senior Brandon Heath is 6’1, 220, but had 48 tackles, 2 INTs and 5.5 tackles for loss last season. He’s joined by senior Antwan Canady. Canady had 34 tackles last season. The third man is converted defensive end Dexter Heyman. Besides senior Eugene Sowell, and junior CJ Peake, the reserves are all young, sophomore Daniel Brown, redshirt freshman Mike Privott, and freshmen Brandon Dunn and Preston Brown. The Cards are waiting to see if USC transfer Jordan Campbell can clear the hurdles and join the team this season. The group could be solid, and they pretty much have to be.

CB: The linebackers have to be solid, because the secondary is not. Corner Johnny Patrick is a diamond in the rough. Patrick had 53 tackles, 4 for loss, and 2 INTs. He’s flanked by Bobby Burns, a senior who started 3 games and had 9 tackles last season. They are joined by junior Terence Simien, who showed promise before a lacerated kidney ended his season after 2 games, and soph Shenard Holton. Holton saw action in 8 games a season ago. They need Holton to pick up the defense well, because they have no experienced back ups. Anthony Conner was supposed to play a roll, but blew out his knee. Soph. Darius Ashley is a converted running back. Isaac Geffrad, Champ Lee, Hakeem Smith and Jed Evans are all redshirt freshmen. Preston Pace is a JUCO junior, who got hurt and played 5 games last season. The secondary has DANGER WILL ROBINSON written all over it.

Special Teams: The kicking will be handled by junior Chris Philpot. Philpot hit 5/5 FGs and 4/5 EPs last season, becoming the only kicker to ever do that. Josh Bleser is a junior punter who I don’t think has kicked before, because there are no stats. Johnny Patrick, and Vic Anderson are listed as the kick returners. Scott Radcliff is slated to return punts.

Schedule: Louisville starts the season with a home game against Kentucky. After a win, they go to Oregon State and Arkansas State. They open Big East play with the murder’s row of Cincinnati, UConn and at Pitt. Louisville will probably have any expectations of winning the Big East quelled pretty fast.