Monday, March 7, 2011
Louisville Cardinals 2010 Review
2010 Record: 7-6 (3-4), Tied 5th Big East
2010 Bowl Game: Beef O'Brady's Bowl, Defeated Southern Mississippi 31-28
Kentucky, L 23-16
Eastern Kentucky, W 23-13
@ Oregon State, L 35-28
@ Arkansas State, W 34-24
Memphis, W 56-0
Cincinnati, L 35-27
UConn, W 26-0
@ Pittsburgh, L 20-3
@ Syracuse, W 28-20
South Florida, L 24-21
West Virginia, L 17-10
@ Rutgers, W 40-13
Southern Mississippi, W 31-28
New Coach Charlie Strong had a lot of work to do to get the Cardinals back on track. It looks like he is ahead of the curve. The Cardinals weren't good at putting streaks together, but when you can generate 7 wins in your first season, you are going to likely get the job done.
Adam Froman and Justin Burke had to share time due to injuries at QB, but the most important position at Louisville still produced well. The two combined for 2420 yards and 21 TDs to just 7 picks, but the real star of the offense was Bilal Powell, who, if not for Jordan Todman at UConn, would have been the best back in the league. Powell rushed for 1405 yards and 11 TDs on the year in leading the Cardinals to a bowl game that nobody saw coming. There will be depth at receiver next season, but not one receiver stood out, which will be the next area of concern.
One area that really cleaned up well was the Louisville defense. Under Steve Kragthorpe, the defense had become stagnant. Strong has shored up the defense splendidly in one season, and although there is still work to be done, the future looks bright. The Cardinals held 7 teams to 20 points or less on the season, and two of those games were shutouts (Memphis and conference champ UConn).
Freshman DB Hakeem Smith led the team with 88 tackles on the season, but Strong would like to see his leading tackler come from a spot closer to the line of scrimmage. Shenard Holton, another DB, was second on the team with 74, and Brandon Heath, a senior LB, was third with 71.
The Cardinals struggled to make plays in the backfield on a consistent basis, with only Daniel Brown and Rodney Gnat registering double digits in TFLs (11 and 10 respectively). Gnat led the team with 8.5 sacks, but nobody else had more than half of that total on the season.
Johnny Patrick was on the money in the secondary, having defended 12 passes on the season, while Smith and Holton led the team in tackles. Patrick had a team leading 5 picks on the season as well. The bad news is that Patrick has now moved on.
Chris Philpott got the job done at PK as a junior, hitting on 14 of his 18 FG attempts on the seaosn, but he did miss 2 PATs on the year, hitting 41 of 43. Philpott and Josh Bleser shared the punting job on the season, with Philpott edging out Bleser as the better of the two with a 40.46 average on 37 punts.Both will be back in 2011.
The Cardinals are ahead of the curve by just a bit coming out of year one of the reconstruction project. Strong has a strong pedigree having worked at Florida, so he knows how to get it done and he will. Look for more of the same in 2011, but keep expecatations modified, as year three will be the true coming out party.