2014 Louisville Cardinals Team Preview
Head Coach: Bobby Petrino
2013 Record: 12-1 Overall, 7-1 American Athletic
2013 Bowl Result: Beat Miami-(FL) 36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl
2013 returning starters: 7 offense, 4 defense
Odds to win 2015 College Football Championship: 150/1
Odds to win 2014 ACC Championship Game: 10/1
Odds to win 2014 ACC Atlantic Division: 13/2
Regular Season Wins: over 8 -115 / under 8 -115
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Louisville coach Charlie Strong left to coach the Texas Longhorns. So Lousiville hired former Cardinals’ coach Bobby Petrino from Western Kentucky. The other big change is Louisville moves to the ACC from the AAC.
Louisville went 12-1 last season with the only loss coming to Central Florida by a field goal. Cardinal fans thought they could get a BCS bowl berth, but a soft schedule meant they had to settle for a Russell Athletic Bowl berth against Miami-(FL). The Cardinals would rout the Hurricanes 36-9. Ironically, Louisville hosts Miami to start the season on Labor Day night.
Louisville averaged 314 passing yards and 147 rushing yards per game last year. The Cardinals scored 35 points per game last year. New offensive coordinator Garrick McGee gets back 7 starters from last year.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is now in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings. Bridgewater, a three year starter, threw for 3,970 yards with 31 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and also had a rushing touchdown last season. Sophomore Will Gardner takes over as the starter but only threw 12 passes last year. Gardner did throw for 542 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Louisville spring game. It isn’t clear who will be the back-up behind Gardner.
Leading rusher Dominique Brown returns after he had 163 carries for 825 yards and 8 touchdowns, plus 24 catches for 228 yards and a touchdown. Louisville must replace Senorise Perry now with the Chicago Bears. He had 141 carries for 677 yards and 6 touchdowns, plus 18 catches for 178 yards and a touchdown. Michael Dyer (44 carries, 223 yards and 2 touchdowns) and freshman L.J. Scott both had impressive springs.
Receiver DeVante Parker is back after making 55 catches for 885 yards and 12 touchdowns. Damian Copeland is now with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Copeland had 58 catches 780 yards and 5 touchdowns. Sophomore James Quick was a five star recruit coming out of high school and should be a capable replacement for Copeland. Eli Rogers had 44 catches, 536 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tight end Gerald Christian had 28 catches for 426 yards and 4 touchdowns. Kai De La Cruz had only 15 catches but 3 went for touchdowns.
Four starters return to an offensive that will be among the best in the ACC.
Louisville was #1 in total defense nationally allowing 252 yards per game and #2 in points allowed at 12 points per game. New coordinator Todd Grantham came over from Georgia but only gets four starters back from that unit.
The Cardinals must replace both starting tackles from last season. Still end Sheldon Rankins and tackle DeAngelo Brown have potential to be stars. Defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin is the only returning starter.
Linebackers Nick Dawson and Keith Kelsey also have potential but the unit must replace the middle linebackers. Linebacker James Burgess is the only returning starter.
The secondary must replace safeties Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith. Jermaine Reve is supposed to start at one safety but he missed the spring game after undergoing knee surgery. He is expected to be ready for the regular season. True freshman Michael Johnson could start at the other safety. Corners Charles Gaines and Terell Floyd do return though.
Kicker John Wallace made 20 of 24 field goals last season and will be the kicker again. Punter Ryan Johnson placed 11 punts inside the 20. Gaines will handle kickoff returns. Quick returned both punts and kickoffs in high school and could handle either job for Louisville with his speed.
Outlook / Schedule
After the Miami game, Louisville hosts Murray State. Louisville travels to Florida International. The other two non-conference games happen at the end of the season at Notre Dame and at home against Kentucky. In ACC play, Louisville also hosts Wake Forest, North Carolina State and Florida State. The Cardinals travel to Virginia, Syracuse, Clemson and Boston College. Games at Florida State and Notre Dame will be tough as will a home game against Clemson, but I sill think Louisville wins 9 games in their first year in the ACC.
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