Football Schedule First Look: Louisville Cardinals

Chris Graythen

As the American brass before them, the conference tried to set up a potential title game in the final week of the season. They may have done just the thing with the Bearcats season closing home game with Lousville.

Basics

Name University of Louisville
Location Louisville, KY
Head Coach Charlie Strong
Career Record 25-14
2012 Record 11-2

2012 Season In Four Sentences Or Less

The Cardinals had their best season since 2006 blazing to a 9-0 start and rising as high as 11th in the national polls before inexplicably dropping back to back games against Syracuse and UConn. They rebounded in time to clinch their second straight share of a Big East crown, and their first BCS birth in 6 seasons against Rutgers. And then Florida happened, creating an avalanche of hype that they will attempt to ride to another BCS birth and a Heisman for Teddy Bridgewater.


Who Is Coming Back?

Just Bridewater, three of last years top four rushers, and six of last years top eight recievers on offense; 9 of last years top 10 tacklers, all but one of last years interceptions and every person on the roster who registered a sack a year ago. Other than that? Not much.

What Will They Run?

The offense under coordinator Shawn Watson was nothing revolutionary. In truth the Bearcats offense, the passing game really, had all the same elements. The biggest difference had more to do with Bridgewaters ability to make throws in tight windows in that zone 10 to 20 yards down field. That won't change this year, it is where they will make their money in the passing game. The biggest question is what will they do to get more from the running game. The Cards are only returning three full time starters up front, and they will need to find a way to squeeze a bit more out of the running game which was average a year ago.

Defensively the Cards will play exactly the same way they have always played under Strong, with aggression and a healthy does of blitzes from the second and third levels of defense. Without question the best players on the Cardinals defense are in the second level, Hakeem Smith and Calvin Pryor at the safties; Preston Brown at linebacker. The general defensive structure will be one which gives those three maximum flexibiliuty to vary their positioning and points of attack. We saw some of that om the Florida game, we will all see more of it this season.

Can You Wrap This Up? I Have Things To Do

The chance is there for the Bearcats game against the Cardinals to wind up being the biggest in Nippert Stadium history. I would not bet on UC and UofL both being unbeaten going into the contest, but that happening wouldn't really surprise me in the least. All due respect to UCF, and Rutgers, but I think these are the two best teams in the conference this year.

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