Preview 2008 - Offense
2008 CFN Louisville Preview
2008 Louisville Offense
2007 CFN Louisville Preview
2006 CFN Louisville Preview
you need to know:
Louisville’s high-octane offense, unstoppable over the last
decade, is about to turn the page and begin writing a new
chapter. Not only is QB Brian Brohm gone, but so are all of his
favorite weapons, including All-Big East WR Harry Douglas.
Brohm’s graduation clears a path for senior and long-time backup
Hunter Cantwell to show the nation—and NFL scouts—that he’s more
than just a nice insurance policy. He’ll need a lot of help from
a supporting cast that’ll show little resemblance to the one
that roamed Papa John’s last season. Two players capable of
filling the void are RB Bilal Powell and WR Scott Long, whose
potential has been corked by the recent logjam on offense.
Passing: Hunter Cantwell
8-14, 79 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Brock Bolen
88 carries, 456 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Scott Long
27 catches, 358 yds, 0 TD
Star of the offense: Senior C Eric Wood
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior QB
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Scott Long
Best pro prospect: Wood
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Wood 2) Senior LT
George Bussey 3) Long
Strength of the offense: Athleticism at the skill
Weakness of the offense: Inexperience
Projected Starter: It’s never easy losing a player
like Brian Brohm, one of the best quarterbacks in school
history, but at least senior Hunter Cantwell is waiting
in the wings. Brohm’s understudy for the last three years, he
has a big arm, a good head, and 18 games of experience to fall
back on. At 6-5 and 236 pounds, Cantwell is built like a
linebacker, yet shows good feet in the pocket and an ability to
escape the heat of a pass rush. Despite throwing just 157 career
passes and being a career backup, he’s in a high-stakes position
to catapult into the first day of the 2009 NFL Draft with a
strong final season as the Cardinal starter.
Projected Top Reserves: Now that Cantwell has
elevated to the top of the depth chart, the Cardinals no longer
have a seasoned vet at the backup quarterback position. Instead,
a couple of untested kids, sophomore Tyler Wolfe and
redshirt freshman Matt Simms, will battle to fill the
opening and get an early lead for the job in 2009.
Simms was one of the prized catches of 2007, a fundamentally
sound quarterback who hopes to follow father Phil and brother
Chris into the NFL someday. At 6-3 and 210 pounds, he stands
tall in the pocket and plays with the poise and the leadership
of a much older player. Simms is viewed as the quarterback of
the future, and can be next in line for 2009 by winning the No.
At 6-5 and 216 pounds, Wolfe makes quite a presence in the
pocket as well, peering above the linemen to find his receivers.
Cardinal coaches believe he can make all the throws and they
really like his ability to sidestep the rush and pick up yards
with his feet.
Watch Out For… Cantwell. Few outside of Louisville
even know who he is, but pro scouts already believe he has a
chance to be this year’s top quarterback prospect. Not only can
Hunter dramatically upgrade his draft grade in his lone year as
the triggerman, but he’ll also be counted on to help keep the
Cards from slipping further in the Big East.
Strength: Downfield passing. Even without Brohm,
Louisville boasts three well-sized hurlers with the arm strength
to test opposing secondaries on the boundaries. Add incoming
freshman Zack Stoudt, and the Cardinals have four bombers
who are 6-3 or larger.
Weakness: The wide receivers. The quarterbacks
have the talent to move the ball downfield, but will they get
any help from a receiving corps that loses its top four
pass-catchers? Even if Cantwell does his job, the passing game
might suffer from a group of wideouts that won’t make defensive
Outlook: For anyone else, it would be next to
impossible to fill Brohm’s shoes. Cantwell, however, won’t shy
away from the challenge or muff an opportunity in his only crack
at the starting job. If the defense is as feeble as a year ago,
he’ll also have plenty of chances to ring up Brohm-like numbers.
Projected Starters: Last year’s leading rusher
Anthony Allen has transferred and George Stripling was
dismissed, creating an opportunity for a handful of backs,
including one fullback. At 6-0 and 238 pounds, senior Brock
Bolen isn’t your typical feature back, but that didn’t stop
him from rushing for 456 yards and seven touchdowns, while
adding 14 receptions for 121 yards and another score. More than
just a lead blocker or a short yardage option, he’s capable of
carrying the load, when given a chance.
Projected Top Reserves: Lightly recruited coming
out of high school, sophomore Bilal Powell is going to
make plenty of Florida schools sorry they didn’t go after him.
He only rushed 24 times for 187 yards and two touchdowns, but he
showed flashes on special teams and gave hints of his upside in
the finale with Rutgers. At 6-0 and 208 pounds, Powell is a
downhill runner who can make tacklers miss, a strong candidate
to be the every down back.
The Cardinals had the luxury of redshirting Victor Anderson,
who’s ready to begin contributing. Just 5-9 and 182 pounds,
he’s an electrifying open field runner with breakaway speed and
enough wiggle to dance out of traffic.
Watch Out For… Anderson. Allen and Stripling’s
departures and Sergio Spencer move to safety creates space for
Anderson to scale the depth chart. He’s a Noel Devine-type
homerun hitter which the Louisville offense has been missing.
Strength: Versatility. Just like a year ago, the
Cardinals have a nice mix of complimentary backs who all do
something a little different. For the tough yards, there’s Bolen
and Powell. For the long ball and swing passes out of the
backfield, Louisville has Anderson.
Weakness: Lack of a feature back. For now, the
Cards have a bunch of role players, but no go-to guy with a
proven track record of handling 20-25 carries a game. Someone
needs to step up and assume the lead role in the backfield.
Outlook: No one in this group will command 250
carries, with the touches being spread out over a diverse group
of backs. Powell, however, is loaded with enough potential for
him to steal playing time from the others, making a late run for
1,000 yards in an offense that plans to run more this season.
Projected Starters: Last year’s top four receivers
are gone, forcing the Cardinals to rebuild the receiving corps
from the bottom up. The biggest beneficiary of the make-over is
junior Scott Long, a budding star who’ll set career highs
after catching 27 passes for 358 yards and starting seven games
in a complimentary role. A physical, 6-2 and 211-pound receiver,
he’s next in line to become Hunter Cantwell’s favorite target.
Juniors Trent Guy and JaJuan Spillman are a pair
of undersized playmakers in the Harry Douglas mold who can take
a slant and zip through the secondary. The 5-9, 165-pound Guy
caught 11 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns, doing most of
his damage as a kick returner.
Spillman is expected back after being suspended for the second
half of last season. An absolute blur, the 5-10, 160-pounder
needs to get more touches in the open field. Like Guy, Spillman
is a dangerous returner who was No. 11 nationally in kickoff
returns two years ago.
The graduations of Gary Barnidge and Scott Kuhn have
Louisville scrambling to find a reliable tight end who can block
and catch passes. Unfortunately, the three main candidates,
sophomore Pete Nochta, redshirt freshman
Michael Fennerty, and redshirt freshman Zach
Meagher, have no career catches and just one letter among
them. Nochta has good size at 6-5 and 246 pounds, and rates a
slight edge by virtue of his extra year of experience on special
Meagher is only 6-4 and 240 pounds, but plays with a nasty
streak and shows the potential in practice to be the best
blocker of the group. The 6-4, 229-pound Fennerty will
exclusively be a receiving threat until he can add more bulk to
his frame. Of the trio, Meagher is most likely to be the team’s
tight end of the future.
Louisville is also banking on little-used senior Johnnie
Burns to contribute at tight end after flip-flopping between
offense and defense. A 6-3, 245-pounder, he’s mostly played on
special teams throughout his career.
Projected Top Reserves: The staff gets
giddy when the topic is Troy Pascley, a quick,
athletically-gifted sophomore who missed the season with
pneumonia. A fluid 6-2 and 190-pounder, he’s one of the untapped
Cardinal receivers capable of making a big statement in 2008.
Senior Chris Vaughn has some of the best measurables of
the group, but has been limited throughout his career by
injuries. A 6-3, 220-pound gazelle, he’s only caught six passes
since transferring from Note Dame in 2005, but has the
size-speed combination that shouldn’t be ignored.
Sophomore Doug Beaumont lettered a year ago, playing in
all 12 games on special teams. Named Kentucky’s Mr. Football in
2006, the 5-9, 176-pound jackrabbit is quicker than he is fast
and dangerous as a receiver or taking handoffs.
Redshirt freshman Josh Chichester is a little raw, but at
6-8 and 224 pounds, he’s a worthwhile project for the Louisville
coaching staff. His ball skills continue to improve, and at that
size, there’s not a defensive back in the country who can match
up on jump balls.
Watch Out For… a shorter passing game. Harry
Douglas and Mario Urrutia were skilled route runners on post
patterns, but the next wave of Cardinals needs work on
fundamentals. While Long can test a secondary deep, Guy and
Spillman will be used more on slants in the hope they can break
free for big chunks of real estate.
Strength: Athleticism. Bobby Petrino recruited the
position well when he was in Louisville, attracting a slew of
young thoroughbreds capable of turning short hitches into big
gainers. Across the board, the Cards have speedy athletes who
just need to hone their receiving skills.
Weakness: Experience. When you lose both starting
receivers, a starting tight end, and your top reserve, a lack of
experience is an unavoidable issue. Louisville needs a number of
players to raise the level of their games, especially at tight
Outlook: While there’s enough talent for the
Cardinals to piece together a quality starting unit, the days of
spooking opposing secondaries are over for now. Long is this
group’s Derby horse, an All-Big East candidate if he can avoid
getting doubled constantly.
Projected Starters: The bad news is that
Louisville must replace three of last year’s starters. The good
news is that the two senior holdovers, C Eric Wood and LT
George Bussey, have been All-Big East the last two years.
Wood is one of the nation’s premier centers, the heady
quarterback of the line and a fourth-year starter. An immovable
object with a great work ethic at the pivot, the 6-4,
310-pounder has started 37 consecutive games for the Cardinals.
Bussey is entering his third season as the starter after
starting his career as a walk-on. A better pass protector than
run blocker, even though he’s a big 6-4 and 306 pounds, he keeps
sharpening his technique and has continued to improve, which
hasn’t been lost on NFL scouts.
The favorite to bookend Bussey is RT Jeff Adams, a
massive sophomore who backed up starter Breno Giacomini last
season. Still a bit unrefined with just four games of
experience, his potential resides in a massive 6-8, 316-pound
frame and the long arms needed to effectively wall off edge
The Cardinals will have two new regulars at guard, courtesy of
the graduations of Danny Barlowe and Mike Donoghue. The leader
on the right side is sophomore Mark Wetterer, who climbed
to No. 2 on the depth chart behind Barlowe as a rookie. He’s up
to 6-5 and 315 pounds, but plays even bigger using his hands and
upper body strength to control opposing defensive linemen. In
Wetterer, the coaches feel they’ve got a young cornerstone for
the next three years.
Left guard figures to be the scene of a tight battle between
juniors Abdul Kuyateh and Brian Roche, who both
started games in 2007. The early part of Roche’s career was
hindered by an injury, but he’s still hoping to approach the
weighty expectations that accompanied his signing in 2005.
After slipping all the way to No. 4 on the depth chart, the 6-4,
303-pounder got his chance to play in November after a spate of
bad breaks crippled the position.
The 6-2, 295-pound Kuyateh arrived from Reedley (Calif.) College
a year ago, quickly rising up the ladder. Both powerful and
light on his feet, he started the Connecticut game ahead of
Roche before an injury put him on the shelf and had the edge
coming out of spring.
Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore T Greg
Tomczyk will spend another season as Bussey’s caddy at left
tackle, preparing to take over the job in 2009. A surprise
letterwinner in his first season out of high school, he’s 6-6
and 297 pounds with the footwork to be a solid contributor in
the second half of his career. One more year learning behind
Bussey will serve Tomczyk well when his time comes to start.
Adams’ stiffest challenge at right tackle will come from RT
Ryan Kessling, a 6-5, 314-pound redshirt freshman who was a
late bloomer in high school. For a player his size, the coaches
have been pleased with his athletic ability and maturity.
Adding depth at guard is 6-5, 289-pound Josh Byrom, a
sophomore who lettered for his work on special teams. A probable
backup to Wetterer, he can also chip in at tackle if the need
Watch Out For… Roche. A broken leg stunted
his development, but that was three years ago. With all the
problems they had last season, the Cardinals need some stability
at guard, and it’s high time Roche started fulfilling all of his
Strength: The left side of the line. With Bussey
anchoring Hunter Cantwell’s backside and both Roche and Kuyateh
getting starts in 2007, Louisville is in fine shape to the left
of Wood, one of the game’s best all-around centers.
Weakness: Experience on the second unit. Once you
get past the starting five, the Cards are going to be green at
every position. Not only did the unit lose three starters, but
it also parted ways with a few reliable reserves.
Outlook: Wood and Bussey make the offensive line
solid, but to get to another level it’ll need players like Adams
and Roche to turn the corner and dominate on a consistent basis.
The group needs to step it up in pass protection, especially
since Cantwell won’t conjure up images of Stefan LeFors.