2007 Louisville Cardinals

Posted Jan 21, 2008

2007 Louisville Cardinals Season Game-By-Game Recaps and More

2007 Louisville Cardinals

Recap: Louisville belongs right in the same discussion with Nebraska, Notre Dame, and UCLA as one of the most disappointing programs of 2007.  The Cards, a Big East favorite and fringe national title contender in August, squandered QB Brian Brohm's final year in school, failing at 6-6 to even attract a bowl invitation.  Louisville's demise can be traced to a leaky defense that allowed 38 or more points seven times, and was helpless against opposing quarterbacks.      

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Brian Brohm

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Lamar Myles

Biggest Surprise: With very little to play for in the regular season finale, Louisville dug real deep against Rutgers, rallying from an 18-point, second-half deficit to pull out an improbable 41-38 victory.  The Cards displayed more heart in two quarters than it had in the previous 11 games combined, getting a spark from a future star, freshman RB Bilal Powell.

Biggest Disappointment: Where do you begin?  In a season marked by disappointments, none was bigger than the 40-34 loss to Kentucky on Sept. 15.  In a microcosm of all that went wrong in Steve Kragthorpe's debut season, Louisville somehow allowed WR Steve Johnson to get behind the secondary for a game-winning 57-yard score with 28 seconds left on the clock.  The loss wasn't quickly forgotten by the Cards, who were shocked by Syracuse the following Saturday.       

Looking Ahead: Kragthorpe has already shaken up his coaching staff like a snow globe, but it's going to take some time before the changes have an impact.  Louisville needs to replace a ton of offensive firepower in 2008, namely Brohm, receivers Harry Douglas and Mario Urrutia, and back Anthony Allen, who's transferring.    

- 2007 Louisville Preview
2006 Louisville Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 6-6

Aug. 30 Murray State W 73-10
Sept. 6 Middle Tenn W 58-42
Sept. 15 at Kentucky L 40-34
Sept. 22 Syracuse L 38-35
Sept. 29 at NC State W 29-10
Oct. 6 Utah L 44-35
Oct. 13 at Cincinnati W 28-24
Oct. 20 at Connecticut L 21-17
Oct. 27 Pitt W 24-17
Nov. 8 at West Virginia L 38-31
Nov. 17
at South Florida L 55-17
Nov. 29 Rutgers W 41-38

Nov. 29
Louisville 41 ... Rutgers 38
Louisville scored 17 unanswered points over the final 13 minutes of the game, capped off by a 33-yard Art Carmody field goal with 20 seconds to play. Brock Bolen ran for two short scores in the second half, and Bilal Powell ran for an 18-yard touchdown to storm back after the Scarlet Knights appeared to be cruising to the win. Ray Rice scored from ten, 14 and six yards out, and Kenny Britt caught touchdown passes from 35 and 39 yards out. But Brian Brohm, who was sacked five times, connected with Patrick Carter on a 52-yard pass play with just 11 seconds left in the first half, and he ran for a six-yard score, to keep his Cardinals alive, and then he was led the team on every key drive in the fourth quarter.
Player of the game: Louisville QB Brian Brohm completed 12 of 22 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown, and ran for a score
Stat Leaders: Louisville - Passing: Brian Brohm, 12-22, 237 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Brock Bolen, 13-117, 2 TD. Receiving: Gary Barnidge, 6-65
Rutgers - Passing: Mike Teel, 21-32, 265 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Ray Rice, 30-120, 3 TD. Receiving:
Kenny Britt, 12-173, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... After the way the Cardinals were blasted by South Florida, and after a lackluster first three quarters against Rutgers, the disappointing season appeared to closing out with a whimper. But Brian Brohm made one last great statement in his tremendous career and pulled off the win, and even though a bowl game might be tough to get, this was a great way to end the season and send head coach Steve Kraghthorpe and his program out on a high note. This game showed that the team still played hard until the end, and now Kragthorpe has something to build on.

Nov. 17
South Florida 55 ... Louisville 17
Louisville fumbled away the opening kickoff for a score, and things would only go downhill from there with seven turnovers while allowing USF to jump out to an early 27-3 lead. Matt Grothe connected with Marcus Edwards for a seven-yard touchdown and Carlton Williams for a 30-yard score with things getting ugly on a 28-poiunt run. Trae Williams picked off a pass for a 64-yard score and Mike Ford ran for two scores. Brian Brohm threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Harry Douglas, but he also threw three interceptions and way replaced. In all, the Bulls had three defensive scores.
Player of the game: South Florida QB Matt Grothe completed 17 of 23 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 12 times for 67 yards and a score
Stat Leaders: Louisville - Passing: Brian Brohm, 18-37, 213 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Bilal Powell, 6-70, 1 TD. Receiving: Harry Douglas, 8-136, 1 TD
South Florida - Passing: Matt Grothe, 17-23, 194 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Mike Ford, 24-140, 2 TD. Receiving: Carlton Mitchell, 4-54, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The disastrous season only gets worse with a complete clunker of a performance against South Florida. If Brian Brohm isn't playing well, then there's no much hope for the rest of the team to show up. There were some good flashes at times to make it seem like the Cards would have a chance for a comeback, but the turnovers always killed any momentum. A bowl game might be a distant dream, but beating Rutgers would be a nice way to finish things up and to get into a position for a 13th game. To win, the run defense has to get far stronger in a big hurry.

Nov. 8
West Virginia 38 ... Louisville 31
An ugly game with 18 penalties, seven turnovers, and horrible all yellow West Virginia uniforms was all but ended on a beautiful 50-yard Pat White touchdown run with 1:36 to play. White got the team out to an early 14-0 lead with two touchdown passes to Darius Reynaud, and got up 31-14 late in the third quarter on a 44-yard John Holmes fumble recovery for a score. But Louisville would come back with a two-yard Brock Bolen touchdown run, a 12-yard Mario Urrutia scoring grab, and a 37-yard Art Carmody field goal to tie it. And then White went to work going 65 yards in four plays for the win. Louisville's final drive was snuffed with a Hail Mary interception, but Brian Brohm had a brilliant game throwing for 345 yards, scoring on a one-yard touchdown run, and throwing two touchdown passes.
Player of the game: West Virginia QB Pat White completed 16 of 25 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns and ran 24 times for 147 yards and a score
Stat Leaders: Louisville - Passing: Brian Brohm, 27-46, 345 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: George Stripling, 12-23. Receiving: George Stripling, 8-106
West Virginia - Passing: Pat White, 16-25, 181 yds, 2 TD
Pat White, 24-147, 1 TD. Receiving: Darius Reynaud, 6-79, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The final score might not show it, but Louisville's defense had a good day against the mighty West Virginia offense, keeping Steve Slaton in check, and keeping Pat White from going crazy until his big final touchdown run. The D was hitting like a ton of bricks, and Brian Brohm was on, throwing for 345 yards, but there wasn't nearly enough from the running game and there were too many big mistakes. Now the Cardinals might have to beat both either South Florida or Rutgers to get in the bowl mix, and have to win both to insure a 13th game.

Oct. 27
Louisville 24 ... Pitt 17
Louisville got two first half Brian Brohm touchdown passes, but needed a one-yard Brock Bolen scoring run in the final two minutes, and a goal line stand, to hang on. Pitt hung around with a 27-yard LeSean McCoy scoring play in the first half, and a seven-yard touchdown run in the second. Despite his huge game, McCoy fumbled on first and goal from the one in the final minute with the Panthers down seven, and the Cardinal hung on. The two teams combined to convert six of 24 third down chances.
Player of the game: Louisville QB Brian Brohm completed 21 of 30 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
Stat Leaders: Louisville - Passing: Brian Brohm, 21-30, 236 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Brock Bolen, 11-52, 1 TD. Receiving: Harry Douglas, 6-63, 1 TD
Pitt - Passing: Pat Bostick, 10-20, 136 yds
LeSean McCoy, 26-120, 1 TD. Receiving: LeSean McCoy, 3-60, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It wasn't pretty, but Louisville was able to overcome the Connecticut loss to get a tough win against Pitt. That's going to be Cardinal football the rest of the way out. Brian Brohm had a nice day, but it wasn't a typical Brian Brohm performance as the offense hasn't exactly been its explosive self over the last few weeks. Against West Virginia and South Florida over the next two weeks, the attack had better be ready to start letting it fly again. The defense has been better over the past month, but this still isn't a rock.

Oct. 20
Connecticut 21 ... Louisville 17
In lousy weather, Connecticut forced three Brian Brohm interceptions and overcame a 17-7 fourth quarter deficit with a seven-yard D.J. Hernandez touchdown catch and a five-yard Andre Dixon scoring run. The Huskies got a big break early in the third quarter, as Larry Taylor waved for the fair catch on a punt, fielded it, and ran 74 yards for a score after the Louisville defenders stopped. It was still ruled a score. The Cardinal offense only managed a two-yard Scott Kuhn touchdown catch and a field goal, with Earl Heyman returning a fumble 32 yards for a score in the fourth. UConn's Scott Lutrus made 18 tackles, and Danny Lansanah made 15.
Player of the game: Connecticut RB Andre Dixon ran 22 times for 115 yards and a touchdown and led the team with three catches for 55 yards
Stat Leaders: Connecticut - Passing: Tyler Lorenzen, 9-18, 130 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Andre Dixon, 22-115, 1 TD. Receiving: Andre Dixon, 3-55
Louisville - Passing: Brian Brohm, 29-41, 228 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Brock Bolen, 16-60. Receiving: Gary Barnridge, 8-64
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Blame the weather, and blame a bad no-call on a Larry Taylor should've-been fair catch that went for a touchdown, but mostly, blame the Cardinals for not being able to get the running game going in lousy conditions and for Brian Brohm to play very unBrohm-like. There were several chances to take control of the game, but it never happened with the offense never establishing any sort of rhythm. Now, it might take a minor miracle to get to a bowl with Pitt, at West Virginia, at South Florida and Rutgers yet to play, with three of the four wins likely needed thanks to the lack of Big East bowl ties.

Oct. 13
Louisville 28 ... Cincinnati 24
A 51-yard completion to Harry Douglas set up a three-yard Anthony Allen touchdown run for what would turn out to be Louisville's game-winning score. Along with that big throw, Brian Brohm threw three touchdowns passes with two to Patrick Carter, while Cincinnati came up with three Ben Mauk touchdown passes, with two to Marcus Barnett. The Bearcats were able to pull within four on a 23-yard Jake Rogers field goal, but didn't get any closer, punting on one late possession and throwing an interception on the other.  The two teams combined for 674 passing yards and 22 penalties.
Player of the game: Louisville QB Brian Brohm completed 28 of 38 passes for 350 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Cincinnati - Passing: Ben Mauk, 26-45, 324 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Butler Benton, 10-56. Receiving: Dominick Goodman, 11-141, 1 TD
Louisville - Passing: Brian Brohm, 28-38, 350 yds, 3 TD
Trent Guy, 3-45. Receiving: Harry Douglas, 7-118
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... What a difference it is having Harry Douglas back. Brian Brohm got one of his top targets back, and it showed, as the offense was crisper than it had been in a few weeks, while the defense came up with one of its better performances, all things considered. Yes, it allowed a ton of yards (460), but it forced four turnovers and held firm after the offense got the team ahead for good. The Big East title is still up for grabs, and with the other big boys still to come, the team got its momentum builder at just the right time.

Oct. 5
Utah 44 ... Louisville 35
Utah rolled up 582 yards for the game, and got out to a 27-7 halftime lead, but had to hold on for dear life, as Louisville's Brian Brohm, without his usual targets, bombed his way back into the game, pulling within 41-35 with 3:33 to play on a 29-yard touchdown pass to Trent Guy. The Cardinals tried its second onside kick following a score, and for the second time, failed. Utah was able to get a 46-yard Louie Sakoda field goal to make it a nine-point lead with just over a minute to play. The Utes got out to their big lead on three Darrell Mack touchdown runs, from three, two, and three yards out, while the Cards got Brohm touchdown passes to with two to Guy.
Player of the game: Utah RB Darrell Mack rushed for 163 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries.
Stat Leaders: Louisville - Passing: Brian Brohm, 39-58, 467 yds, 4 TD
Rushing: Brock Bolen, 8-43, 1 TD. Receiving: Patrick Carter, 9-154, 1 TD
Utah - Passing: Brian Johnson, 24-31, 312 yds, 1 TD
Darrell Mack, 32-163, 3 TD. Receiving: Bradon Godfrey, 6-78, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Louisville's defense is giving away yards and points in bunches, but it was still impressive how the Ute offense rolled. Brian Johnson played like Brian Johnson again, running well, and spreading his passes around better, but it was the steady running of Darrell Mack that kept things moving. It gave the Ute attack a focus for the Cardinals to deal with, and allowed Johnson to work a little easier on the outside. Now the Utes have to start producing in Mountain West play after starting out 0-2. San Diego State is next.

Oct. 5
Utah 44 ... Louisville 35
Utah rolled up 582 yards for the game, and gout out to a 27-7 halftime lead, but had to hold on for deal life, as Louisville's Brian Brohm, without his usual targets, bombed his way back into the game, pulling within 41-35 with 3:33 to play on a 29-yard touchdown pass to Trent Guy. The Cardinals tried its second onside kick following a score, and for the second time, failed. Utah was able to get a 46-yard Louie Sakoda field goal to make it a nine-point lead with just over a minute to play. Utah got three Darrell Mack touchdown runs, from three, two, and three yards out, while the Cards got Brohm touchdown passes to with two to Guy.
Player of the game: Utah RB Darrell Mack rushed for 163 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries.
Stat Leaders: Louisville - Passing: Brian Brohm, 39-58, 467 yds, 4 TD
Rushing: Brock Bolen, 8-43, 1 TD. Receiving: Patrick Carter, 9-154, 1 TD
Utah - Passing: Brian Johnson, 24-31, 312 yds, 1 TD
Darrell Mack, 32-163, 3 TD. Receiving: Bradon Godfrey, 6-78, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Much will be made about yet another stunningly poor defensive performance, allowing 582 yards to Utah in the 44-35 loss, and Brian Brohm was Brian Brohm, despite missing receivers Harry Douglas (injury) and Mario Urrutia (unspecified reasons), but the real issue has to be the onside kick after scoring with 3:33 to play. Yeah, the D didn't stop the Utes all night long, but down six, and with plenty of time to allow a few first downs yet still get the ball back, the onside kick was a horrible coaching gaffe by Steve Kragthorpe. Utah was able to move the ball a little, the drive bogged down, kicked a field goal, and was up nine. Ball game. Basically, the coaching staff sent a message that the D can't be trusted. Ever.

Sept. 29
Louisville 29 ... NC State 10
Louisville took a 16-3 lead into halftime on three Art Carmody field goals and a seven-yard Anthony Allen touchdown run, but NC State appeared on the verge of a comeback, with Daniel Evans, in for an injured Harrison Beck, connecting with Ced Hickman on a two-yard touchdown pass, but the Pack fell short, seeing a late drive halted by a fumble, leading to an 18-yard George Stripling touchdown catch. In all, State turned it over five times.
Player of the game: Louisville RB Brock Bolen ran for 112 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
Stat Leaders: Louisville - Passing: Brian Brohm, 20-33, 251 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Brock Bolen, 18-112, 1 TD. Receiving: Mario Urrutia, 5-49
NC State - Passing: Harrison Beck, 17-28, 181 yds, 2 INTs
Andre Brown, 16-92. Receiving: Andre Brown, 5-38

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
The Cardinals played against NC State like a team that had just lost to Syracuse. The defense came up with a decent game, compared to the nightmares over the first part of the season, but it needed the turnover to avoid a close call, taking it away five times. The offense wasn't its normal high-octane self, and it won't have to be to beat Utah next week. That's nitpicking, considering the tremendous balance shown against the Pack. Louisville had better be Louisville again in a real hurry with four Big East road trips in five games.

Sept. 22
Syracuse 38 ... Louisville 35
In a wild game, Syracuse QB Andrew Robinson bombed away with a 79-yard touchdown pass to Taj Smith on the opening play, connected with Smith again in the third quarter for a 60-yard score, and threw two other touchdown passes to pull off the shocker. The Orange answered Louisville's first score, a four-yard Scott Kuhn touchdown catch, with a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Max Suter. The Cardinal offense roared in the second half, with Brian Brohm throwing three of his four touchdown passes, including a five-yard scoring strike to Patrick Carter in the final minute, but Syracuse recovered the onside kick. The two teams combined for 1,093 yards of total offense, 978 passing yards, and 23 penalties for 201 yards.
Player of the game ... The quarterbacks. Syracuse QB Andrew Robinson completed 17 of 26 passes for 423 yards and four touchdowns, and in a losing cause, Louisville QB Brian Brohm completed 45 of 65 passes for 555 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions.
Stat Leaders: Syracuse - Passing: Andrew Robinson, 17-26, 423 yds, 4 TD
Rushing: Curtis Brinkley, 23-53 Receiving: Mike Williams, 5-83, 1 TD
Louisville - Passing: Brian Brohm, 45-65, 555 yds, 4 TD, 2 INT
Anthony Allen, 18-66  Receiving: Harry Douglas, 12-205, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... So that's how it's going to be this year. Louisville isn't going to play any defense, is going to have breakdown after breakdown in the secondary, and will need Brian Brohm and the offense to save the day. Middle Tennessee doesn't have any offense, and Syracuse really doesn't have any offense, but they were able to get their speed guys in space and got big play after big play. After the shocking, bad loss to the Orange, the Cardinals get two weeks off from the Big East and need to find something to work on defense (better safety play would be nice) against NC State and Utah before dealing with Cincinnati.

Kentucky 40 ... Louisville 34
Andre Woodson connected with Steve Johnson for a 57-yard touchdown with 28 seconds to play to give Kentucky a 40-34 lead. Louisville made the final moments interesting as Brian Brohm's Hail Mary pass was batted into the arms of Harry Douglas, but he was tackled short of the goal line. Kentucky took a first quarter 13-0 lead, but Louisville took control on two Brohm touchdown passes and two of Anthony Allen's three touchdowns. Just when it appeared Kentucky was about to take over, going 78 yards on 11 plays on the opening drive of the second half, finishing up with a seven-yard John Conner touchdown catch, the Cards struck right back as Trent Guy took the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a score. The two teams traded scores in the fourth quarterback the Wildcats went 74 yards in eight plays for the game-winning touchdown.
Player of the game: Kentucky QB Andre Woodson finished 30-of-44 for 275 yards and four touchdown passes.
Stat Leaders: Louisville - Passing: Brian Brohm, 28-43, 366 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Anthony Allen, 18-96, 2 TDs. Receiving: Harry Douglas, 13-223, 1 TD
Kentucky - Passing: Andre Woodson, 30-44, 275 yds, 4 TDs
Rafael Little, 27-151, 1 TD. Receiving: Keenan Burton, 9-99

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The offense is going to put up yards and points on everyone, but as the loss to Kentucky showed, the defense has too many weakness, and makes too many mistakes. Even with the problems, the Cardinals had its chance to pull out the classic battle, but a defensive mix-up allowed the Wildcats to get their final touchdown after keeping Andre Woodson and the passing game in check for most of the day. With Syracuse and NC State ahead, the team should feel better about itself in a real hurry.

Sept. 6
Louisville 58 ... Middle Tennessee 42
In one of the wildest shootouts in Big East history, Louisville cranked out 729 yards of total offense, but the defense couldn't handle a Middle Tennessee attack that blew up for 555 yards and made it a game late into the fourth. Up 38-35 after halftime, the Cardinals didn't pull away until Brian Brohm threw his fourth and fifth touchdowns of the game, with Mario Urrutia catching a 22-yard strike and Harry Douglas catching a short pass and going ten yards for the touchdown. UL RB Anthony Allen ran for a career high 275 yards and two touchdowns, but it was Middle Tennessee's DeMarco McNair and Phillip Tanner who provided the bolts of lightning. McNair averaged 10.3 yards per carry, helped by a 39-yard touchdown dash in the second quarter, and started off the Blue Raider scoring by taking a pass 79 yards for a score. Tanner, who averaged 16.3 yards per carry, scored three times, with his 79-yard run in the fourth quarter the team's only points of the half. Each team only punted once.
Player of the game: Louisville QB Brian Brohm completed 25 of 39 passes for 401 yards and five touchdowns, and RB Anthony Allen ran 35 times for 275 yards and two scores
Stat Leaders: Middle Tennessee - Passing: Joe Craddock, 14-26, 290 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Phillip Tanner, 9-144, 3 TD. Receiving: DeMarco McNair, 3-92, 1 TD
Louisville - Passing: Brian Brohm, 25-39, 401 yds, 5 TD
Anthony Allen, 35-275, 2 TD Receiving: Harry Douglas, 9-100, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... You can exhale now. Yeah, Louisville's offense might have blown past Middle Tennessee like it wasn't even on the field, but the pathetic performance by a Cardinal defense that was constantly out of position and got its doors blown off by big play after big play raised eyebrows for an alleged national title contender. If an awful offense like Middle Tennessee's could do that, imagine what Kentucky might be able to do next week. Get the scoreboard ready because that won't be a defensive slugfest of any sort.

Aug. 30
Louisville 73 ... Murray State 10
Louisville had few problems doing whatever it wanted to as Brian Brohm threw four touchdown passes with two to Harry Douglas and two to Gary Barnidge. MSU answered a 44-yard Douglas score to tie it at seven on a six-yard touchdown catch from Derrick Townsel, and then the Cardinals opened up the floodgates on the way to a 49-point first half. Louisville scored the final 45 points of the game highlighted by a 59-yard Douglas touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, and a 54-yard Trent Guy punt return for a score.
Player of the game: Louisville QB Brian Brohm completed 16 of 21 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns and ran for a one-yard score.
Stat Leaders: Murray State - Passing: Jeff Ehrhardt, 12-20 88 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Paul McKinnis, 9-72. Receiving: Rod Harper, 4-30
Louisville - Passing: Brian Brohm, 16-21, 375 yds, 4 TD
George Stripling, 14-92. Receiving: Harry Douglas, 5-151, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Yeah, Louisville was only playing Murray State and could've hung a hundred if it wanted to, but it was still a meaningful first game considering it was the opening of the Steve Kragthorpe era. Anything less than a 73-point outing would've got the Cardinal fans buzzing, but all the parts appeared to be working. Again, we're talking Murray State here, but several NFL types have to be wondering what Brian Brohm would be like as an Oakland Raider or Cleveland Brown right now.

Aug. 30 – Murray State

Sept. 8 - Middle Tennessee
Offense: The offense was strange last year finishing sixth in the league in total yards but first in scoring. In other words, the O took advantage of almost every opportunity despite not being all that good scoring on 33 of 36 chances in the red zone. Even without long-time starting quarterback Clint Marks, the passing game can't help but better whether it's Joe Craddock, or one of three other options under center. The receiving corps is experienced, but unless Bobby Williams plays up to his talent, it won't be much better. The running game will be the strength with DeMarco McNair and speedsters Desmond Gee and Phillip Tanner running behind a massive line.
Defense: This should be one of the Sun Belt's best defenses in time, but only if the back seven can fill all the holes. The front four will be regulars in the backfield with three all-conference caliber ends in Erik Walden, Sean Mosley and Tavares Jones along with nose tackle Trevor Jenkins. The linebackers are a big problem needing to replace all three starters, but they aren't the problem the cornerbacks are. Bradley Robinson is an all-star, but there's no depth and a concern at the second spot. Damon Nickson will carry things for a while at safety.

Sept. 15 – at Kentucky
Offense: The Wildcat offense exploded last year thanks to the emergence of Andre Woodson as a superstar quarterback. It'll be bombs away once again, as Woodson chose to come back for his senior year and will have all his weapons at his disposal. Keenan Burton finally stayed healthy, and he became one of the SEC's most lethal receivers. Dicky Lyons, tight end Jacob Tamme, and running back Rafael Little are also back, with Little healthy enough again to be one of the SEC's best all-around offensive weapons. The problem is the line, which is mediocre at best, a liability at worst. It could be what keeps the Wildcats from being special.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Mike Archer is gone, and now former secondary coach Steve Brown will take over in an attempt to revive one of the nation's worst defenses. The run defense won't be any good again with little size up front, but the secondary should be better with excellent speed and good young prospects. It'll take awhile to see any improvement overall, but there's enough overall athleticism to expect things to be a bit better.

Sept. 22 - Syracuse
Offense: The pieces are there among the skill players for a night-and-day improvement from last year's putrid attack that cranked out a mere 264 yards and 17.4 points per game. The receiving cops, helped by the return of Taj Smith from injury, should be one of the best in the Big East, while Curtis Brinkley is a good back to work around. Sophomore QB Andrew Robinson is a star in the making, but he'll have a hard time with his consistency behind an offensive line that needs work even with three starters returning in the interior.
Defense: It might take a little while, but the D will improve as the season goes on, it struggled in every area but getting into the backfield, and with a strong defensive line returning, led be end Jameel McClain, generating pressure won't be much of a problem. The linebacking corps will be a work in progress with three news starters, but the excellent safety tandem of Dowayne Davis and Joe Fields should clean up plenty of messes.

Sept. 29 – at NC State
Offense: This won't be a bombs away attack under Dana Bible, but it could be with a big, fast, experienced receiving corps that should be able to spread the field. The trio of running backs, Toney Baker, Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugene, should be a major plus, but the line has to be far better and needs to replace the starting tackles. It'll be a three-man race for the starting quarterback job between Daniel Evans, Nebraska transfer Harrison Beck, and Justin Burke, with the one of them needing to be able to move the offense consistently, something that wasn't done this spring. This will be a running offense that will eventually grow into a 50/50 balance.
Defense: This will be a solid defense, but it won't be spectacular. It could be fantastic in 2008 when all the promising young prospects are ready to shine, but for now, this will be a good, sound D that should be far more consistent than last year. Demario Pressley and Martrel Brown lead a strong line that should be the strength, while three senior linebackers will keep the mistakes to a minimum. The secondary has to come up with more big plays after helping the Pack pick off just seven passes.

Oct. 6 - Utah
Offense: Look out. Utah not only gets just about everyone back with its top six wide receivers, leading rusher Darryl Poston, and four starting offensive linemen, but it also welcomes back its superstar, quarterback Brian Johnson, after taking last year off to recover from a torn ACL. All the problems with inconsistency throughout last season should be gone thanks to all the experience. Expect more explosion, a slew of Mountain West all-stars, and for Johnson to become a national college football name. There's more than enough depth at the skill positions to withstand injuries, but there's no development among the backups on the line.  
Defense: There's a ton of athleticism and loads of potential, but there are also several major concerns on the line and secondary. The linebacking corps will be fine with four starting-caliber players returning led by Joe Jianonni in the middle. Martail Burnett is an all-star waiting to blow up at end, free safety Steve Tate is good for 100 tackles, and Brice McCain has the kind of speed that NFL scouts tend to drool over. Everything else is up in the air with former receiver Sean Smith trying to handle the second corner spot, no experience to count on at strong safety, and unproven new starters at tackle and the second defensive end. In the end, the D will be fine in Mountain West play because of all the talent, but it might not be good enough to win the league title if the offense struggles for a game or two.

Oct. 13 – at Cincinnati
Offense: Take whatever you knew about last year's Cincy offense and delete it.  Nothing will be the same, as Brian Kelly and his staff dismantle Mark Dantonio's plodding run game in favor of a fancy spread attack.  There'll be growing pains, to be sure, but by mid-season, there should also be improvement if a consistent quarterback, such as Wake Forest transfer Ben Mauk, develops and the line adjusts to a zone blocking scheme.  A receiving corps that's led by juniors Derrick Stewart, Dominick Goodman and Connor Barwin has a chance to blow up in the new system.
Defense: That Bearcat defense, which was so stingy a year ago, returns almost virtually intact.  The unit is small, but very quick from sideline to sideline, and prone to swarming anyone with the ball in his hands.  It all starts up front with a line that welcomes back four players with starting experience, including its figurehead, junior tackle Terrill Byrd.  Junior cornerback Mike Mickens is one of the best unknown cornerbacks in the country and the kind of defender that can shut down the opposition's No. 1 receiver.  While the offense takes time to adjust to a new system, the defense is going to keep Cincy in plenty of games.

Oct. 20 – at Connecticut
Offense: For two years running, the Husky offense has been painfully inept, particularly in the passing game.  Tyler Lorenzen was recruited from the ranks of the junior colleges to specifically address that vertical shortcoming.  His arrival pushed D.J. Hernandez to slot receiver and set up a heated competition with sophomore Dennis Brown that'll resume in August.  While quarterback is a question mark, running back is not.  Sophomore Donald Brown exploded on to the scene in 2006 with almost 700 yards and five scores in a torrid five-game stretch to finish the season.  With a bunch of linemen back, he's poised for a monster season in an offense that still uses the run to set up the pass.
Defense: The bend-but-don't-break Huskies snapped like a toothpick in 2006.  The main culprit was a run defense that couldn't slow down anyone not named Rhode Island.  Things don't get any easier this year, as the unit will be looking for ways to replace both of last year's starting tackles.  Uh-oh.  Led by senior linebacker Danny Lansanah and junior corner Darius Butler, the back seven will be picking up a lot of the slack on Saturdays.  Expect the pass rush that produced only 11 sacks in the final eight games to get a spark from the returns of junior Cody Brown and sophomore Lindsey Witten, disruptive ends that'll be on the line together for the first time in September.

Oct. 27 - Pitt
Offense: The graduation of Tyler Palko leaves a gaping hole on the Panther offense that'll be filled by either junior Bill Stull or hot-shot rookie Pat Bostick.  Whoever gets the ball will enjoy an outstanding supporting cast that includes junior running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, one of the deepest receiving corps in the nation and the program's best front wall since Dave Wannstedt arrived.  Wannstedt and Matt Cavanaugh want to establish a more physical ground game, but if the new hurler is up to the challenge, the ensuing balance will make this a very dangerous offense.   
Defense: Last year's defense had big names, like H.B. Blades and Darrelle Revis, with poor results.  This year's defense is devoid of stars, but might wind up being statistically better.  The key will be stopping the run, something that vexed the Panthers throughout the second half of the 2006 season.  The difference this fall will be a defensive line that'll be much deeper than last year, and capable of creating inside-outside pressure with junior tackle Gus Mustakas and senior end Joe Clermond.  Although replacing Revis won't be a snap, the secondary is busting with potential from future all-Big East players, like sophomores Aaron Berry and Elijah Fields.

Nov. 8 – at West Virginia
Offense: Unlike most schools that run the spread offense, West Virginia aims to open lanes for its prolific ground game, rarely putting the ball in the air more than 20 times a game.  The Mountaineers want the ball in the hands of its two junior Heisman candidates, quarterback Patrick White and running back Steve Slaton.  Along with receiver Darius Reynaud, they form the fastest offensive trio in America, and are threats for six with even a hint of daylight.  White is an underrated passer that rarely misses his target, but needs more help from a receiving corps that's suspect after Reynaud.  Few schools rebuild on the offensive line better than West Virginia, but how will the unit react without its long-time quarterback Dan Mozes and long-time coach Rick Trickett?
Defense: Lost in all the yards the Mountaineer offense gained in 2006 was all the yards the defense allowed.  West Virginia allowed 35 or more points three times last fall and was torched through the air repeatedly over the second half of the year.  Worse, this once relentless defense had trouble getting to the quarterback and looked a step slow.  Rich Rodriguez is banking on a few tweaks to the back eight and an influx of faster players as the solutions in the team's 3-3-5 stack formation.  Led by playmaking senior safety Eric Wicks, the secondary has a glut of really talented athletes that need to gel into a cohesive unit.

Nov. 17 – at South Florida
Offense: This is Matt Grothe's offense, but unlike last season, he shouldn't have to do everything short of crafting the weekly gameplan in order to make the unit hum.  Although he led the offense in passing, rushing and scoring, the program realizes it needs to protect its most important commodity and give him more support.  Can freshman Mike Ford live up to the hype?  Plenty is expected from a back that should ignite a rushing attack that did little in 2006 when Grothe wasn't slithering through opposing defenses.  Originally headed to Tuscaloosa, he's the highest-profile recruit to ever sign with USF.  The Bull receivers are a dynamic bunch that's loaded with size, speed and underachievers that need to get their act together.
Defense: Like all teams from Florida, the USF defense pursues well and is built on speed.  Wally Burnham's unit is well-coached, prevents the big play and is vastly underappreciated and unnoticed on a national level.  That could change if the Bulls crack the top 10 in total defense in 2007, a distinct possibility.  Next level corners Trae Williams and Mike Jenkins allow the defense to sell out on occasion, and the front four, led by sophomore rush end George Selvie, returns seven linemen that started games in 2006.  Importing defensive line coach Dan McCarney and linebacker Tyrone McKenzie from Iowa State were coups that'll pay immediate dividends.

Nov. 29 - Rutgers
Offense: Although Rutgers is more than content to pound the ball between the tackles 30 times a game with All-America running back Ray Rice, it wouldn't mind a little more offensive balance this year.  Whether that happens depends on the development of junior quarterback Mike Teel who struggled badly last year, but did play his best ball at the end of the year and has a speedy group of receivers needed to author a rebound.  While question marks exist on the interior of the offensive line, the tackle tandem of seniors Pedro Sosa and Jeremy Zuttah is one of the best in the country.
Defense: For Greg Schiano and his Rutgers defense, it's all about creating pressure and turnovers with a variety of different looks to confuse opposing offenses.  Everything came together last year for a unit that had 31 takeaways and allowed just 252 yards and 14 points a game, but five starters need to be replaced.  Senior defensive tackle Eric Foster is a ticking time bomb that exploded on quarterbacks in 2006, en route to All-America recognition.  He's the physical and spiritual leader of a front seven that's noticeably less experienced than last year.  Provided sophomore Devin McCourty can handle the corner spot opposite twin brother Jason, the secondary will rock with the return of all-league safeties, Courtney Greene and Ron Girault.



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