2009 CFN Louisville Preview
Louisville WR Josh Chichester
Louisville WR Josh Chichester
Posted Jul 20, 2009

The CFN 2009 Louisville Cardinals Preview, Breakdown, and Analysis.

Louisville Cardinals

Preview 2009

By Richard Cirminiello

- 2009 CFN Louisville Preview | 2009 Louisville Offense
- 2009 Louisville Defense | 2009 Louisville Depth Chart
- 2008 UofL Preview | 2007 UofL Preview | 2006 UofL Preview 

Head coach: Steve Kragthorpe
3rd year: 11-13
7th year overall: 40-35
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 24, Def. 21, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best Cardinal Players
1. RB Victor Anderson, Soph.
2. LB Jon Dempsey, Sr.
3. WR Scott Long, Sr.
4. WR Doug Beaumont, Jr.
5. DT L.T. Walker, Sr.
6. OT Jeff Adams, Jr.
7. S Richard Raglin, Sr.
8. DE Greg Scruggs, Soph.
9. S Daniel Covington, Sr.
10. OT Greg Tomczyk, Jr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 5-7
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 Indiana State
9/19 at Kentucky
9/26 at Utah
10/2 Pitt
10/10 Southern Miss
10/17 at Connecticut
10/24 at Cincinnati
10/31 Arkansas State
11/7 at West Virginia
11/14 Syracuse
11/21 at USF
11/28 Rutgers

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-5
2008 Record: 5-7

8/30 Kentucky L 27-2
9/6 Tenn. Tech W 51-10
9/17 Kansas State W 38-29
9/27 Connecticut L 26-21
10/10 at Memphis W 35-28
10/18 Middle Tenn W 42-23
10/25 South Florida W 24-20
11/1 at Syracuse L 28-21
11/8 at Pitt L 41-7
11/14 Cincinnati L 28-20
11/22 West Virginia L 35-21
12/4 at Rutgers L 63-14

These are desperate times for the Louisville football program. And head coach Steve Kragthorpe knows it.

It’s taken just two seasons for Kragthorpe to dismantle what Bobby Petrino had accomplished when he was at the controls. Say what you will about Petrino’s exit strategies, but he knew how to win games, going 41-9 in four seasons and basically spoiling the locals. Not only has Kragthorpe failed to take the baton, but he’s completely botched the handoff, winning just 11 games and failing to make the postseason both years. Even worse, the Cardinals lost their final games of 2008 to share the Big East cellar with Syracuse. Yup, the same Syracuse that’s been the league’s doormat for much of the decade.

In response to the team’s collapse, Kragthorpe took a broom to his coaching staff in the off-season, sweeping out offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm and some of his assistants, and hiring Brent Guy to replace the departed Ron English. English is the one coach Louisville didn’t want to lose, but he’s now the head guy at Eastern Michigan. In another sign that Kragthorpe wants greater control over his fate, he’ll be coordinating the offense and calling the plays this fall. The big issue? He doesn’t have an abundance of talent on either side of the ball. Both lines have been damaged by graduation and there isn’t a proven quarterback on the roster.

There’s a cold wind blowing through Louisville and a head coach broiling on the hot seat. If the Cards are going to reverse their recent trend and navigate a difficult schedule, they’ll need a bunch of surprises to emerge between now and the Sept. 5 opener.

What to watch for on offense: A quarterback derby that lasts until deep into August. Hunter Cantwell has graduated, meaning Louisville will have a new starter behind center for the third straight year. There are four contenders at this point, none of whom has any significant experience at this level. Unless the unlikely happens and one of those players builds serious separation, Kragthorpe plans to let this play out until just before the opener.       

What to watch for on defense: More attacking. Guy favors a defense that can bring pressure and create turnovers with speedy, undersized defenders. Considering the turnover that’s taking place on the defensive line, he’ll have no choice but to get creative in order to rattle the other quarterback. The Cardinals do have decent athletes on the back seven, so Guy plans to turn them loose as long as the cornerbacks will allow it.

The team will be far better if… it improves dramatically in turnover margin. A year ago, the Cardinals were sixth in the Big East in takeaways and last in giveaways, resulting in one of the nation’s worst programs in turnover margin. No matter what kind of talent is on the field, that’s a sure-fire recipe for another deflating season in Louisville.

The Schedule: The rebuilding job for the Cardinals won't be made much easier with a tough road schedule. Not only are there back-to-back non-conference games against Kentucky and Utah, but they kick off a stretch of four road games in six weeks and five road games in seven. There are four Big East road games with dates at West Virginia and South Florida while Pitt and Rutgers have to come to Papa John's. The off weeks come in lousy times with the first one coming after the season-opening layup against a bad Indiana State team. There's a run of 11 games in 11 weeks before the regular season ends with the Rutgers game on November 28th.

Best offensive player: Sophomore RB Victor Anderson.  A blend of power and acceleration in a compact package, Anderson gives the Cardinals their best running back since Michael Bush was at the top of his game. After debuting with 1,047 yards rushing, Louisville is eager to see what he can do for an encore.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Jon Dempsey.  In just his first season out of the College of the Sequoias, Dempsey was a revelation for the program, leading the team with 80 tackles and making eight stops behind the line. He reads and reacts well, giving the Cards one of the Big East’s better run stoppers from the middle of the field.

Key player to a successful season: The new quarterback. Whether it’s been Browning Nagle, Chris Redman, or Brian Brohm, when Louisville has been successful, it’s always had a capable quarterback. Now that Hunter Cantwell has graduated, the program is auditioning four players—Tyler Wolfe, Justin Burke, Adam Froman, and Zack Stoudt—who have yet to throw a touchdown pass at this level.

The season will be a success if ... Louisville wins seven games. Forget the Big East title, which appears to be out of reach for a second straight year. These Cards need to manufacture seven wins and get to any bowl game in order to halt the current two-year slide. Three straight bowl-less postseasons on the back of a 12-win season would be demoralizing for Kragthorpe and his staff. 

Key game: Sept. 19 at Kentucky. If the Cardinals are going to capture any momentum early in the year, they’ve got to do it at the expense of their in-state rival. Louisville has suffered bad losses to Kentucky in each of the last two years. Three in-a-row would be the type of omen that the program does not want to experience.

2008 Fun Stats:
- Louisville 1st quarter scoring: 41 - Louisville 2nd quarter scoring: 108
- Field goals: Opponents 10-of-17 - Louisville 5-of-11
- Interceptions: Opponents 17 - Louisville 8

- 2009 CFN Louisville Preview | 2009 Louisville Offense
- 2009 Louisville Defense | 2009 Louisville Depth Chart
- 2008 UofL Preview | 2007 UofL Preview | 2006 UofL Preview