2008 CFN Louisville Preview
2008 Louisville Offense
2007 CFN Louisville Preview
2006 CFN Louisville Preview
Head coach: Steve Kragthorpe
2nd year: 6-6
6th year overall: 35-28
Off. 27, Def. 21, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 20
Ten Best Cardinal Players
C Eric Wood, Sr.
2. OT George Bussey, Sr.
3. DT Earl Heyman, Sr.
4. QB Hunter Cantwell, Sr.
5. WR Scott Long, Jr.
6. DE Maurice Mitchell, Sr.
7. FB Brock Berlin, Sr.
8. S Latarrius Thomas, Jr.
9. LB James Bryant, Sr.
10. DT Adrian Grady, Sr.
CFN Prediction: 7-5
2008 Record: 0-0
Sept. 6 Tennessee Tech
Sept. 13 OPEN DATE
Sept. 17 Kansas State
Sept. 27 Connecticut
Oct. 4 OPEN DATE
Oct. 10 at Memphis
Oct. 18 Middle Tennessee
Oct. 25 South Florida
Nov. 1 at Syracuse
Nov. 8 at Pitt
Nov. 14 Cincinnati
Nov. 22 West Virginia
Nov. 29 OPEN DATE
Dec. 4 at Rutgers
CFN Prediction: 11-1
2007 Record: 6-6
at NC State
West Virginia L 38-31
at South Florida
When Bobby Petrino
left Louisville following the 2006 campaign, he apparently took more
than his family and his personal belongings to Atlanta. He also took
off with the Cardinals’ momentum and national image.
Louisville flopped in 2007, Steve Kragthorpe’s first year on the
job, going from defending Big East champ to a 6-6 record and a
bowl-less postseason for the first time in a decade. The blame for
the debacle fell squarely on the coaching staff, some of whom are no
longer with the program. For Kragthorpe, a darling of athletic
directors just one year ago, the honeymoon is already over.
If Kragthorpe is going to restore the order at Louisville and
stabilize his own job security, he’ll have to do so with new troops
everywhere. Gone from a year ago are star QB Brian Brohm, leading
rusher Anthony Allen, the top four receivers, and all three starting
linebackers. DE Peanut Whitehead, one of the most heralded recruits
to ever attend the school, suffered a career-ending spinal injury in
November. Starting CB Rod Council was booted from the team after
being charged with armed robbery in February. And that’s just from
the player personnel files.
The defensive staff also got whacked in response to last year’s
collapse, hiring four new assistants, including former Michigan
coach Ron English to coordinate the defense. All English is being
asked to do is energize a depleted group that couldn’t tackle or get
to the quarterback, and was miserable against teams like Middle
Tennessee and Syracuse. There’s a feeling that Louisville will
always find a way to score, no matter who’s at the controls, but if
the defense doesn’t improve by leaps and bounds, it’ll be another
also ran year.
Now the question is whether or not the Cardinals have gotten as low
as they can go, or if thing can get worse in an improved Big East.
With wholesale changes impacting every area of the program, the
Cardinals are capable of another clunker. Winning the Big East and
the Orange Bowl just two years ago raised the bar a few notches, and
now the pressure is on Kragthorpe to stop the bleeding now before it
becomes a hemorrhage.
What to watch for on offense: Sophomore RB Bilal
Powell. The veteran line can run block. The backfield has been
depleted by transfers, suspensions, and relocations. In other words,
Powell is about to see a dramatic spike in his production. Sure,
he’ll share touches with Brock Bolen, but there’ll be enough work to
keep everyone happy. When the season was spinning out of control
last November, Powell provided an unexpected spark, running with
intensity and a blend of speed and power that gave a glimmer of hope
about the future.The future is now for one of Louisville’s most
exciting offensive weapons.
What to watch for on defense: The linebackers. On a defense
filled with concerns, this is Kragthorpe’s biggest heading into the
season. Not only have last year’s three starters left the program,
but many of this year’s key replacements spent the spring sidelined
with an injury. A lot will be expected from senior James Bryant, a
hard-hitting import from Miami, and Chris Campa, a junior college
transfer who’s trying to get right after undergoing surgery on a
torn labrum in his shoulder.
The team will be far better if… new coordinator Ron English can
get the defense to overachieve. Louisville has never wanted for quality
athletes, but it’ll be up to English and his rookie assistants to get
this group to play with better overall fundamentals. There were too many
blown assignments and missed tackles last season, which will be
unacceptable on a unit that has so many holes to fill at linebacker and
in the secondary. Players, such as CB Woodny Turenne and LB James
Bryant, a Miami transfer, have upside.
English’s objective is to be sure they reach it.
You want a bounce-back season Cardinal fans? You have the schedule to do
it. There are only four road games and two are against Memphis and
Syracuse. The other two will be tough, but playing at Pitt and Rutgers isn't like going to West Virginia or South Florida.
Non-conference games against Kentucky and Kansas State might be tough,
but those both come at home. If things weren't easy enough, there's a
week off at the end of November before facing the Scarlet Knights. It
would've been nice to get the break before facing West Virginia, but
there's an extra day off before facing the Mountaineers.
Senior C Eric Wood. Now that all of the skill position talent is seeking
jobs in the NFL, Wood may actually start getting more of the national
recognition he deserves. The reigning First Team All-Big East center has
started 37 consecutive games dating back to his freshman year and is the
leader of the Cardinal offensive line. Lightning quick on the snap and
strong enough to move defensive tackles off the ball, he’ll be on the
Rimington Trophy short list for the third straight year.
Best defensive player: Senior DT Earl Heyman. It would be easy to lump every
Cardinal into last year’s defensive mess, but that would do a disservice
to Heyman, a tackle with next-level skills. At 6-3 and 285 pounds, he
has got the quickness of an end, a major concern for most guards and
centers. Heyman laid the foundation for a breakthrough senior year
notching 40 tackles, seven tackles for loss, four sacks, and three
Key player to a successful season:
Senior QB Hunter Cantwell. While the defense won’t be transformed
overnight, the offense still has a chance to keep Louisville competitive
in most games. Cantwell has been well hidden in Brian Brohm’s shadow,
but he’s a 6-5, 236-pound veteran with a rocket arm and 18 games of
experience. If the senior is able to keep his own defense off the field
while elevating the play of the young kids around him, the Cardinals
won’t be out of many games.
The season will be a success if
... Louisville wins seven games. Although the Cards might appear
shockingly far from being back in the Big East title hunt, they schedule
is conducive to a winning season. Eight games are at Papa John’s, and
the first troubling road trip doesn’t happen until a Nov. 8 visit to
Pittsburgh. The keys for Kragthorpe are to get beyond last season and
create something positive early on. Seven wins and a December bowl game
will accomplish both of those modest goals.
Aug. 31 vs. Kentucky. After last season’s meltdown in Lexington, the
Cardinals and Kragthorpe can ill-afford a second straight loss to rival
Kentucky. As much as any program in the country, Louisville needs a fast
start, and a win in the opener could be the spark needed to get to 6-0
before South Florida visits on Oct. 25. The only first half game away
from Papa John’s is a trip to Memphis after two weeks rest.
2007 Fun Stats:
- Fumbles: Opponents 32 (lost 17) – Louisville 13 (lost 10)
- Opponent 1st quarter scoring: 131 – Opponent 3rd
quarter scoring: 62
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 8 of 13 (62%) – Louisville (9 of 17