Thursday, August 5, 2010
Big East 2010-Louisville Cardinals
2009 Record: 4-8 (1-6)
Head Coach: Charlie Strong (0-0, 1st season)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Sanford (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Vance Bedford (1st season)
2009 Bowl Game: Not even close
Offense: Well, let's try this again. Remember when the Cardinals were on offensive force and were dominating the landscape with acrobatic aerial attacks? That seems like decades ago, but it was only 4 seasons ago. Now the Cardinals are starting over again. Mike Sanford comes from a failed tenure as UNLV HC. Both he and new HC Charlie Strong worked for Urban Meyer (Strong at Florida, Sanford at Utah). They are likely to bring his style of play to bear to rebuild this offense. It all starts from next to nothing. Adam Froman was a JC AA in 2008, but so far has not managed to even reflect his old self. He'll be pushed by Justin Burke and Will Stein, but Froman fits best in the newly installed spread. Victor Anderson looked awesome in 2008, but lost almost 600 yards off of that total last season. He needs to recover his start status. Bilal Powell and Darius Ashley will push him. There are only 6 scholarship players at WR on the roster. TE Cameron Graham figures to be a top target due to depth issues at WR. All 5 O-linemen have starting experience for the Cardinals, so at least there is depth somewhere.
Defense: Three linemen return as starters for Louisville. That's a good place for Strong to start his rebuilding process on this side of the ball. Almost every job is up for grabs in 2010 for a unit that gave up 371.1 yards per game in 2009. William Savoy and Malcolm Tatum are expected to grab the DE spots out of camp, with Greg Scruggs nailing down a spot at DT. Tim High appears to be the leader at the other DT spot. 2 starting LBs return with Antwon Canidy and Brandon Heath. Junior Dexter Heyman appears to be the leader for the final LB job. The secondary is wide open, with the only guy holding onto his job is CB Johnny Patrick. Darius Ashley and Anthony Conner will fight it out for the other CB spot.Terrence Simien is the leader at SS, while Shenard Holton has taken a lead at FS. Things can only get better, right?
Special Teams: Chris Philpott has a huge leg, and will get a shot to be the primary PK this season. Jim Payne is the new punter, and should represent a huge upgrade from a year ago at the position. The return jobs are wide open, with several players in the race.
Wins: 9/11 Eastern Kentucky, 10/2 @ Arkansas State, 10/9 Memphis
Toss Up Games: 9/4 Kentucky, 11/6 @ Syracuse
Losses: 9/18 @ Oregon State, 10/15 Cincinnati, 10/23 UConn, 10/30 @ Pittsburgh, 11/13 South Florida, 11/20 West Virginia, 11/26 @ Rutgers
This is year one of a major rebuilding job. There are some very difficult games here for Louisville, which is unfortunate, because there are no easy confidence building wins outside of those three games that I have picked them to win. Winning the rivalry game with Kentucky sure would be nice.
Outlook: Charlie Strong was noted to be Florida's recruiting guru. He is going to be put to the test here, and has already scored a couple of nice grabs, including WR Michaelee Harris from the state of Florida. This is going to take some time to build, but I believe in Strong, and he has a good staff. Give it 2 years and Louisville is bowling strongly again. Not so much this year.