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Louisville Preview 2006

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 1, 2006


Louisville has to be considered a living, breathing college football superpower under fourth year head coach Bobby Petrino, and now it has to start acting and playing like it.



Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis 

At least it does outside of Louisville.


After taking baby steps in Petrino's first season, the Cardinals have grown into one of college football's most dangerous home teams averaging a silly 53 points per game in Papa John's Stadium over the last two years. With 19 starters and a second team that would likely finish in the top four of the Big East, it's time to take yet another step and be in the chase for the national title. Considering they went 11-1 two years ago and were a late stop against Miami away from being unbeaten, that shows just how good this year's team can be. 

Future NFL starter Brian Brohm returns from a torn ACL to lead a dangerous attack that would've been fine had scoring machine running back Michael Bush left early for the NFL and should be unstoppable now that he's back. The defense was better than it got credit for last year and has the potential to be even better despite losing all-stars Elvis Dumervil and Montavious Stanley off the line. The kicking game is rock-solid, and the schedule is favorable enough to go on a run for the national championship. But there are things to worry about.

Head coach: Bobby Petrino
4th year (29-8)
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20, Def. 24, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 14
Ten Best Cardinal Players
1. QB Brian Brohm, Jr.
2. RB Michael Bush, Sr.
3. WR Mario Urrutia, Soph.
4. OG Kurt Quarterman, Sr.
5. RB Kolby Smith, Sr.
6. CB William Gay, Sr.
7. DT Amobe Okoye, Sr.
8. LB Nate Harris, Sr.
9. DE Zach Anderson, Sr.
10. PK Arthur Carmody, Jr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 11-1

9/2 Kentucky
9/9 at Temple
9/16 Miami
9/23 at Kansas State
10/6 at MTSU
10/14 Cincinnati
10/21 at Syracuse
11/2 West Virginia
11/9 at Rutgers
11/18 South Florida
11/25 at Pitt
12/2 Connecticut

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 10-1
2005 Record: 9-3

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/4 at Kentucky W 31-24
9/17 Oregon State W 63-27
9/24 at South Florida L 45-14
10/1 Florida Atlantic  W 61-10
10/8 North Carolina W 69-14
10/15 at West Va L 46-44 3OT
10/22 at Cincinnati  W 46-22
11/3 Pitt W 42-20
11/11 Rutgers W 56-5
11/26 Syracuse W 41-17
12/3 at Connecticut W 30-20
1/2 Gator Bowl
Virginia Tech L 35-24

Replacing both starting offensive tackles isn't a positive considering Brohm won't be all that mobile coming off his surgically repaired knee. The receiving corps has to potential to be among the best in school history, but that might be down the road with last year's top two receivers, Joshua Tinch and Montrell Jones, gone. And then there's the road schedule. Louisville can score a bazillion points again at home, but the season will be another disappointment like last year if the team can't be consistent on the road.

It might have been a rivalry game, but Kentucky gave Louisville too many problems in the opener. The Cardinals lost back-to-back road games getting whacked by South Florida and getting tagged by a young West Virginia team, and they struggled at Connecticut late in the year. Playing at Temple and MTSU won't be a problem, but trips to Kansas State, Syracuse, Rutgers and Pitt will be dangerous. But if you think you're good enough to play for the national title, you need to win those games in a walk.

So the question becomes whether or not an unbeaten UL team could get the respect from the pollsters needed to play for all the marbles. A win over Miami on September 16th would open everyone's eyes, and a nationally televised win over West Virginia could be enough to make it happen. Is that putting the cart before the horse? Yes, but this team is good enough to dream big.

The Schedule: There are only four games against bowl teams from last year with only two teams, Miami and West Virginia, good enough talent-wise to beat the Cards. Both of those games are in Papa John's. The road games are spread out so there aren't two in a row, but a trip to Kansas State could be dangerous coming after the battle against the Hurricanes. If the Cards beat the Canes, the Wildcat game could be a letdown. A loss to Miami might be too deflating. There's a welcome open date before the showdown against the Mountaineers.

Best Offensive Player: Junior QB Brian Brohm. Michael Bush is just as good a college player, but there are good backup running backs if the star goes down. Brohm is the difference between another good season and something epic. He's an All-America talent, but he has to be 100% after his knee injury.

Best Defensive Player: Senior CB William Gay. There isn't one obvious star on the Cardinal defense with DT Amobi Okoye, LB Nate Harris and DE Zach Anderson all good enough to eventually grow into the team's best defender. Gay is the most experienced defensive back on the team and the top coverman.

Key players to a successful season: Offensive tackles Marcel Benson, Marcus Gordon, Breno Giacomini and Renardo Foster. The machine will break down if franchise quarterback Brian Brohm consistently has a dirty jersey. Replacing Travis Leffew and Jeremy Darveau might not be as easy as it seems.

The season will be a success if ... Louisville wins the Big East title and goes 11-1. Getting to the BCS is a positive no matter what. Yeah, there might be national title talk early in the season, but that requires as much luck as anything else. Take care of the conference title first, and then hope everything else falls into place.

Key game: Nov. 2 vs. West Virginia. Could this be a battle of two unbeaten teams? The Miami game might set the tone, but the Cardinals can't win the Big East title if they don't beat the Mountaineers.

2005 Fun Stats: 
-
Louisville scoring by quarter: 1st - 109, 2nd - 156, 3rd - 132, 4th - 104
- Rushing touchdowns: Louisville 41 - Opponents 16
- Third down conversions: Louisville 71 of 148 (48%) - Opponents 63 of 174 (36%)

The Last Time Louisville…
…played in a bowl game…    2005 (Gator Bowl vs. Virginia Tech)
…missed a bowl game…1997
…pitched a shutout…2004 (Kentucky)
…was shutout…2000 (Florida State)
…scored 50 points…2005 (Rutgers)
…went undefeated…1947
…won a conference title…2004 (C-USA)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2003 (Stefan LeFors)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Michael Bush)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2003 (J.R. Russell)
…had a first-round draft choice…1994 (DE Joe Johnson)

Related Stories
Louisville Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 1, 2006
Louisville Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 1, 2006
Louisville Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 1, 2006








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