We’ll do this every week, where we break down the Cats’ opponent on StraitCats.com. This one is going to be a little different. All week we have been breaking down U of L and UK at every position. So, because I hate extra work, I’m going to run a snippet and then a link to each U of L position. Like it or hate it, I don’t really care. Just be happy that football is finally here.
Here we go.
Quarterback – There’s no denying that Teddy Bridgewater gave U of L fans something to be excited about during his rookie campaign. And when you have an experienced quarterback behind him, like the Cards do in Will Stein, you have to be happy with that security blanket.
Bridgewater flashed signs of brilliance during his first season in a Louisville uniform, but he also made plenty of rookie mistakes. With the experiences from last year and the Belk Bowl, more specifically, you have to believe that he will be a much better player in 2012 and the sky is the absolute limit for this kid. (Read more)
Running Back – The running back position will be crucial to Bridgewater’s success. Fortunately for Teddy, Louisville has three juniors in Dominique Brown, Jeremy Wright, and Senorise Perry poised for a breakout season behind an improved offensive line.
Brown is a power guy with the attitude to fight for every inch and at 6’2 and 226 pounds he is hard to stop. Assuming he has improved in the offseason, he should have a solid year. Wright is a change of pace in our backfield. He’s a speedster who has the ability to really do some damage if he gets into open space. I expect to see more screen passes thrown his direction this year. Perry’s combination of speed and power were crucial to Louisville’s punt defense last year and he is expected to contribute heavily in the ground game this year. (Read more)
Wide Receiver - For the Cards to reach their potential on offense, they need their wide receivers to deliver. The talent of this unit is not in question. From top to bottom, this group is as deep and as talented as any group in recent memory. However, this group is still fairly unproven and will need to step it up to take the UofL offense to the next level.
The headliner of the group is hometown boy DeVante Parker. The 6-3 Parker, previously a star at Louisville Ballard high school, showed flashes of stardom during his freshman campaign. Parked hauled in 18 catches for 291 yards a team leading 6 touchdowns. However, he also struggled at times with physical play and disappeared for large stretches during games. (Read more)
Tight End – One of the positions that Louisville is thin at this year is tight end. With the departure of Josh Chichester, Strong and company were left with a spot to fill on the roster. They look to get Chichester’s production back through Nick Nord, Chris White, Ryan Hubbell, and Hunter Bowles. (Read more)
Offensive Line – The starting offensive line consists of Alex Kupper at left tackle, John Miller at left guard, Mario Benavides at center, Jake Smith manning right guard, and Jamon Brown at right tackle. Benavides is clearly the glue that holds this group together. Mario is a senior, a bonafide leader on the team, and a legitimate NFL prospect. He battled injury problems last season, but is healthy and ready to go in his final campaign as a Cardinal. If he can play the whole season, the offensive line will unquestionably be better for it, and I think Mario will improve his NFL stock. (Read more)
Defensive Line – The Cards have a group of defensive lineman that look promising. This line has speed, size, and strength, as well as depth and experience.The coaches are hoping the front four can take care of business this season. Past injuries no longer seem to be a problem and everyone seems healthy and ready to go.
The starters for the defensive line are B.J. Dubose, Brandon Dunn, Roy Philon, and Marcus Smith. Dunn, a hometown kid, is considered by some the heart of this team. He was slowed by injuries last year but is healthy and ready to show his talent. Coach Kenny Carter said Dunn is the player you would pick to represent the Cardinals. (Read more)
Linebacker – This season Louisville is experiencing valuable depth at the linebacker position. It’s already made itself evident before the season has even started. Junior Preston Brown has won over the Mike (middle) linebacker position after starting the year at the Sam (strong-side) position. He’s battled his way to becoming the leader. Last year he tied for second in tackles on the team with Hakeem Smith. This year he looks to dominate and become the best defensive player on the team. (Read more)
Secondary – This was a unit that was fairly inexperienced last year, but showed great promise as the season progressed. These guys improved a lot from week 1 through the Belk Bowl and much like the entire UofL team, there are high expectations for this group in 2012.
As of now, the starters are slated to be Adrian Bushell and Terrell Floyd at the cornerback spots, with Calvin Pryor manning free safety, and all Big East performer Hakeem Smith at strong safety. Expect to also see plenty of Andrew Johnson, Stephan Robinson, and Gerod Holliman in the defensive backfield. The guy who is perhaps most critical to the success of this unit is Adrian Bushell. (Read more)
Special Teams – This year Louisville isn’t blessed with a proven kicker as we were in previous years. Chris Philpott, who was 12-18 on field goals a year ago, graduated last year. This leaves the Louisville kicking game with an open slot at the kicker position. Redshirt freshman, John Wallace, who has an amazingly strong leg, is expected to be the starter. During the spring game, he tied a school record with a 52-yard field goal. While in high school, he accumulated enough field goals to be ranked 2nd overall in made field goals ever in the State of Kentucky. The down side of Wallace is that he seems to have accuracy issues. If he has struggles early in the season, look for sophomore Matthew Nakatani to be given a chance. (Read more)
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