CFN Take: Louisville & Dyer Run By Wolfpack

Posted Oct 18, 2014

2014 Louisville Cardinals ... Head Coach: Bobby Petrino

2014 Louisville Cardinals

2014 Schedule
Record: 6-2

Sep. 1 Miami W 31-13
Sep. 6 Murray State W 66-21
Sep. 13 at Virginia L 23-21
Sep. 20 at FIU W 34-3
Sep. 27 Wake Forest W 20-10
Oct. 3 at Syracuse W 28-6
Oct. 11 at Clemson L 23-17
Oct. 18 NC State W 30-18
Oct. 30 Florida State
Nov. 8 at Boston College
Nov. 22 at Notre Dame
Nov. 29 Kentucky
Oct. 18 at Louisville 30, NC State 18
And You Care Because … It was Michael Dyer’s day, thundering past the Wolfpack and putting the game away with a 46-yard dash in the final minute. The Cardinals got two Will Gardner touchdown passes in the first half, but the offense kept stalling leading to three John Wallace field goals. NC State hunt around with Jacoby Brissett hitting David Grinnage twice for touchdowns, including a 21-yarder in the final minutes to pull within five, and Niklas Sade made two field goals, but Dyer proved to be too much.
What Else? Louisville RB Michael Dyer ran 24 times for 173 yards and a score
- NC State QB Jacoby Brissett completed 18-of-32 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and ran 11 times for 40 yards
- Louisville QB Will Gardner completed 21-of-36 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns
- Third down conversions: Louisville 9-of-16 – NC State 6-of-14
Game Rating: B-

Oct. 11 at Clemson 23, Louisville 17
And You Care Because … Clemson came up with a goal line stand stopping Louisville on 4th and 2 in the final seconds after a stop on a 73-yard pass play to James Quick to set up the dramatic finish. The Tigers took the lead for good on two of Ammon Lakip’s three second half field goals, while Louisville could only manage a 22-yard Eli Rogers touchdown catch after Dominique Brown scored on a two-yard touchdown run early in the second. The Tiger offense lost star QB Deshaun Watson to an injury in the first half, but got an Adam Humphries 72-yard punt return for a score and the defense recovered a fumble for a touchdown to take control early. The defense overcame the O’s problems.
What Else? Louisville QB Will Gardner completed 10-of-16 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown
- Clemson WR Artavis Scott caught ten passes for 66 yards
- Third down conversions: Clemson 2-of-16 – Louisville 1-of 17
- Penalties: Louisville 11 for 65 yards – Clemson 3 for 14 yards
Game Rating: B

Oct. 3 Louisville 28, at Syracuse 6
And You Care Because … The Louisville defense held Syracuse to just two Cole Murphy field goals and came up with two safeties on the way to the way. The Orange were full of mistakes all night, with a key dropped pass, two interceptions, and ill-timed penalties, while the Cardinals took advantage of the opportunities with Brandon Radcliff running for scores from four and 14 yards out and Gerald Christian making a for-yard touchdown grab in the fourth to put the game well out of reach.
What Else? Time of possession: Louisville 36:58 – Syracuse 23:02
- Louisville RB Brandon Radcliff ran 23 times for 110 yards and two scores, and caught a 29-yard pass
- Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt completed 17-of-32 passes for 196 yards and two picks, and was held to eight rushing yards on five carries
- Louisville LB Keith Kelsey led the game with nine tackles with a sack and a broken up pass
Game Rating: C-

Sept. 27 at Louisville 20, Wake Forest 10
And You Care Because … From out of nowhere, Brandon Radcliff was the star for Louisville running for scores from 29 and 16 yards out, but the second touchdown didn’t come until the fourth quarter as part of a run of 13 unanswered points. Wake Forest only gained 100 yards of offense, but held a 10-7 lead thanks to a fumble recovery for a score and a 43-yard Mike Weaver field goal. John Wallace hit field goals from 31 and 34 yards out in the fourth to help put it away for the Cardinals.
What Else? Louisville RB Brandon Radcliff ran 17 times for 129 yards and two scores
- Wake Forest QB John Wolford completed 19-of-34 passes for 122 yards with three picks
- Rushing yards: Louisville 215 – Wake Forest -22
- Penalties: Louisville 11 for 89 yards – Wake Forest 4 for 45 yards
Game Rating: C-

Sept. 20 Louisville 34, at Florida International 3
And You Care Because … Louisville bounced back from its first loss of the season with a lopsided win at Florida International. The Cardinals seized control of the game in the second quarter, scoring three touchdowns in the span of four minutes. S Gerod Holliman kicked off the scoring with a 32-yard interception return, and QB Will Gardner had long scoring strikes to WR James Quick just 45 seconds apart.
What Else? There was finally a Michael Dyer sighting for the Cardinals. However, the once-injured Louisville running back didn’t factor into the final outcome, carrying the ball just eight times for 16 yards. Still, the former Auburn transfer will help this offense down the road now that he’s healthy.
- FIU quarterbacks wilted under the pressure of the Louisville speed and tenacity on defense. They threw two picks, no touchdowns and not a single completion over 25 yards.
- Quick is becoming the big-play guy that the Cardinals need in the passing game until DeVante Parker finishes his injury rehab. Quick finished the game with seven receptions for 174 yards and those two key touchdowns before halftime.
- Florida International RB Anthon Samuel had his busiest day since transferring over from Bowling Green. However, he saw little space versus Louisville, carrying 13 times for 38 yards.
Game Rating: D

Sept. 13 at Virginia 23, Louisville 21
And You Care Because … Ian Frye nailed a 42-yard field goal in the final minutes and the defense held on as Virginia got by Louisville in a mistake-prone day. The Cardinals turned it over four times, Virginia three, with the winning field goal coming off a muffed punt return by UofL’s James Quick. The Cavaliers got up to a 20-7 lead going into the fourth helped by two Frye field goals and a ten-yard touchdown run from Greyson Lambert, but Louisville roared back in the fourth with two decent scoring drives with a short touchdown run from Dominique Brown and a four-yard catch from Quick for a 23-21 lead before Frye was able to get the job done.
What Else? Neither offense got too much going with both running games held to just 2.9 yards. Virginia’ Kevin Parks ran for 66 yards on 22 carries, while Louisville’s Dominique Brown ran 20 times for 74 yards.
- Virginia QB Greyson Lambert ran for a score, but he was under pressure for most of the game, completing just 13-of-24 passes for 162 yards and a score with a pick. Louisville’s Will Gardner had a rough day, completing 14-of-34 throws for 164 yards with two touchdowns and a pick.
- Louisville FS Gerod Holliman came up with six tackles, a forced fumble and two picks.
- Virginia DE Eli Harold made three tackles with two sacks, and LB Max Valles made four tackles with four broken up passes.
Game Rating: B

Sept. 6 at Louisville 66, Murray State 21
And You Care Because … Coming off a short week and a big win over Miami, Louisville made quick work of the Racers, cranking up 603 yards and getting up 45-7 at halftime with Will Gardner throwing two touchdown passes and Reggie Bonnafon running for an eight-yard score and throwing a 27-yard scoring pass to Michaelee Harris. Gardner completed 13-of-22 passes for 133 yards and two scores, and Bonnafon hit 8-of-11 throws for 112 yards and a touchdown. L.J. Scott ran 11 times for 126 yards and two scores, and Brandon Radcliff ran 15 times for 97 yards and two scores.
Game Rating: D-

2014 Preview 

Change is hard. Louisville is anxiously nodding its head in agreement.

Teddy Bridgewater is preparing for a career as an NFL quarterback. Charlie Strong is preparing for his first season as a Longhorn. And the American is but a distant memory, replaced by a timely relocation to the ACC. Louisville is on solid footing for the long-term, but 2014 will be wrought with all kinds of tricky challenges.

Just how well the program weathers the initial storm will depend heavily on the ability of Bobby Petrino to recapture the magic he had as the school’s head coach from 2003-06. Hiring Petrino made for a shrewd reunion, provided the coach leaves his baggage at Louisville International Airport.

Petrino is one of the best in the business, an offensive innovator who excels at developing young quarterbacks. He was 41-9 in his first stint in Derby City. He won 29 games in his final three seasons at Arkansas. He went 8-4 last fall at Western Kentucky.

Yet, the records aren’t what folks remember when the subject is Petrino. They remember the abrupt in-season exit from the Atlanta Falcons in 2007. And the motorcycle accident, with Jessica Dorrell aboard, that cost him the Razorbacks job two years ago.

With Petrino comes a heavy dose of risk—and reward. Athletic director Tom Jurich is betting on his coach to keep the program on a path to prosperity. The Cardinals went 23-3 over the past two years for Strong, who’d thoroughly scrubbed any remnants of the failed three-year Steve Kragthorpe experiment. It’s now up to Petrino and his staff to solidify what Strong built, while making an opportunistic step up in weight class.

The first order of business this offseason will be to install new systems on both sides of the ball. Petrino’s offense will not only feature an unproven triggerman, but the terminology and the philosophy is going to change. Yeah, the Cardinals want to be balanced, but the passing game—and the quarterbacks—will be the stars of the show going forward. On defense, former Georgia coordinator Todd Grantham is employing a 3-4 alignment that shifts smaller ends to outside linebacker, and puts a premium on immovable nose tackles. Grantham inherits a unit that was dynamite a year ago, but is also replacing seven quality starters.

After a seven-year hiatus, Petrino is back in Louisville, looking to make the most of his second chance at a spotlight school. Not many coaches get the opportunity for a sequel with a former employer. In that genre, Petrino needs to be Bill Snyder or Mike Riley, and not John Robinson or Johnny Majors. The Cardinals are undergoing significant changes in 2014, both on and off the field. The constant? They’re still one of the surging programs in America, a trend Petrino & Co. are determined to further as the newest member of the ACC.

What to watch for on offense: Ready for life after Teddy. You don’t get better after losing a quarterback the caliber of Teddy Bridgewater. But don’t expect Louisville to travel back to the Dark Ages. The Cards return a very nice assortment of talent, including the leading rusher, nearly every receiver and the entire starting O-line, from a group that underachieved in 2013. Oh, and the new staff, led by Petrino and coordinator Garrick McGee, is far more inventive than the prior staff. If Bridgewater’s successor is even competent, Louisville could be home to one of the ACC’s top attacks this fall.

What to watch for on defense: The safety battle. When Calvin Pryor decided to leave early for the NFL Draft, it meant the Cardinals would be without both members of a dynamite safety tandem; four-time all-star Hakeem Smith was a senior in 2013. Veteran corners Charles Gaines and Terell Floyd will help the rebuilding secondary, but the onus falls on the new safeties to pull their weight. Versatile junior Jermaine Reve holds an edge on redshirt freshman Richard Benjamin at free safety. Strong safety could go down to the wire between rookie Chucky Williams and gifted junior Gerod Holliman.

The team will be far better if… it attempts fewer field goals. Louisville was 28th in total offense a year ago, yet averaged just 28 points in eight conference games. Why? Too many John Wallace field goal tries, when the end zone was the target. The Cardinals were 89th in the country in red-zone touchdown rate, despite being led by one of the game’s best quarterbacks. One of the many goals of the Petrino-led staff will be to make the offense more efficient, even if the total yardage output doesn’t match last year’s numbers.

The Schedule: It’s interesting. Life in the ACC kicks off with a rematch of your 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl - a Louisville 36-9 win over Miami – and then after the breather against Murray State, the road games kick in with four in five weeks including dates at Syracuse and Clemson. The Florida State game is at home, and there’s a week off to prepare for it. There’s another long road stretch going from October 30th to November 29th away from home, going to Boston College and Notre Dame with an off-week in the middle. Missing North Carolina and Georgia Tech from the Coastal is a plus with the Miami and Virginia games not that bad.

Best offensive player: Senior WR DeVante Parker. Despite being NFL-ready, Parker wasn’t quite ready to leave the Cardinals, which will provide a major boost to the 2014 passing game. He’s Louisville’s top offensive playmaker, a big target who’ll make life much easier for QB Teddy Bridgewater’s heir apparent. Parker is a 6-3 acrobat, affording his quarterback the luxury of lofting the ball into the air without reservations or repercussions. When stretches the field, the other Cardinal skill position players become the beneficiaries.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Lorenzo Mauldin. For a 3-4 defense to be successful, it needs a stout nose tackle and explosive outside linebackers. Mauldin has the latter covered. His shift from defensive end makes sense, both for his future and for the benefit of the D. He operates with a predator’s mentality, actively looking to wreak havoc in the backfield. Now that he’ll have his eyes up, as opposed to being buried in the trenches, Mauldin will get a head start by seeing the entire field as the play develops.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Will Gardner. No one was happier about the Petrino hiring than Gardner. The teacher has a long list of former quarterbacks who went on to play in the NFL. His latest pupil could be next in line to play on Sundays. Gardner has the edge right now over touted redshirt freshman Kyle Bolin and senior Brett Nelson. The 6-5, 226-pounder served as Bridgewater’s backup in 2013, but he only attempted a dozen passes. So far, the team has been impressed by Gardner’s leadership and overall feel for the game.

The season will be a success if ... the Cardinals win eight games. Starting a season with a new coach and a new quarterback is never easy. But Louisville is better than most people think. There’s a lot of quality players still left on campus, and it’s not as if Petrino is a stranger to starting from scratch. This program could be a pleasant surprise in its ACC debut, as long as the quarterback situation isn’t a year-long problem. A visit from Florida State and road games at Clemson and at Notre Dame will keep the Cards from climbing much higher.

Key game: Sept. 1 vs. Miami. Just how far has Louisville slipped from last year’s 12-1 campaign? The opener will provide some poignant answers. The Cards whacked the Canes, 36-9, in last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl, a game played in the state of Florida. In this meeting, Louisville gets to host at Papa John’s, with a chance to go back-to-back against one of the ACC’s name brand programs. There’ll be storylines galore on Labor Day, from Petrino’s return to the starting debuts of both schools’ quarterbacks.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Scoring: Louisville 35.2 – Opponents 12.2
- Third-down %: Louisville 56% – Opponents 27%
- Sacks: Louisville 43 – Opponents 26

- 2014 Louisville Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players  

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