2010 Louisville Preview – Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Louisville Cardinal Offense
Preview 2010 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: One of the first moves made by Charlie Strong was to hire Mike Sanford to run his offense. Fired as the head coach of UNLV, he remains one of the game's brighter minds, a strong proponent of the spread. His attack will look similar to the one at Florida, which requires its quarterback to be mobile and multi-dimensional. Sans an ideal fit at the position right now, the coordinator will try to fit his scheme around the personnel. That'll mean more action for backs Victor Anderson, Darius Ashley, and Bilal Powell, who form the offense's deepest unit. Anderson is making his way back from an injury-filled sophomore year, looking to regain the form that helped make him a 1,000-yard rusher in 2008. Sanford is likely to choose between two senior quarterbacks, Justin Burke and Adam Froman, the latter having a little more experience and a lot more speed.
Star of the offense: Junior RB Victor Anderson
Passing: Adam Froman
111-185, 1,354 yds, 6 TDs, 5 INTs
Rushing: Victor Anderson
89 carries, 473 yds, 5 TDs
Receiving: Doug Beaumont
38 catches, 465 yds, 0 TDs
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior QB Adam Froman or Justin Burke
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore C Mario Benavides
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Cameron Graham
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Anderson, 2) Graham, 3) Senior WR Doug Beaumont
Strength of the offense: Depth at running back, size of the receivers, experience on the line
Weakness of the offense: Pass protection, the passing game, red zone scoring
Projected Starter: The Cardinals have a wide-open situation at quarterback that might not get settled until late in the summer. All three players who started games in 2009 are back, but the offense needs just one to step up and take charge. The battle is likely to come down to a pair of seniors, 6-4, 227-pound Adam Froman and 6-3, 229-pound Justin Burke . Froman took the most snaps a year ago, his first out of Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College, going 111-of-185 for 1,354 yards, six touchdowns, and five interceptions. After an awkward debut, he has enough arm strength, mobility, and toughness to put it behind him.
After beginning his career at NC State, Burke made his return to Kentucky, where he was the state's Player of the Year in 2006. It wasn't exactly a rousing homecoming despite the fact that he lettered and started three games, including the opener. The rust was evident, as he completed only 49-of-97 passes for 654 yards, three touchdowns, and five picks. He has the physical tools, but is running out of time to fulfill lofty prep expectations.
Projected Top Reserves: Although no one expects sophomore Will Stein , a 5-10, 185-pound former walk-on, to be much of a threat at the top of the depth chart, injuries did force him to start two games in 2009. He gained valuable experience, going 43-of 78 for 450 yards and an interception, which will help in the event of another emergency this fall.
Watch Out For .... the most athletic quarterback to gain an important edge in the competition. That'd be Froman, a former wide receiver clocked in the 4.5 range. New coordinator Mike Sanford favors mobility under center, which could tip the scales in the direction of the former JUCO star.
Strength: Starting experience. Just a year ago, this was a major stumbling block for the offense. Today, however, Louisville has three quarterbacks with starts on their resume, a degree of depth that few programs can boast.
Weakness: Producing big plays. With Froman, Burke, and Stein at the controls, the passing game was flat out impotent a year ago, finishing last in the Big East in touchdown passes and yards per attempt. Of the Cardinals' 365 pass attempts, just nine were scoring strikes and three went for at least 50 yards.
Outlook: While Froman and Burke possess good size and raw talent, it'll be a chore for Sanford and his staff to turn it into instant results. With a half-year under his belt, Froman is the favorite for now, possessing the speed and agility that will be fully utilized if he holds off Burke and remains on top.
Projected Starters: The Cardinals weren't going very far last year no matter what, but losing junior Victor Anderson for much of the year to a shoulder injury hastened the decline. The program's best weapon, he was limited to four starts, yet still rushed for a team-high 473 yards and five touchdowns on 89 carries. He's a lot closer to the playmaker, who rushed for 1,000 yards and earned All-Big East honors as a freshman in 2008. A 5-10, 190-pound game-breaker, he's also deceptively strong and will run through weak arm tackles. More than any other player, Louisville needs him to be at full strength this year.
Projected Top Reserves: Senior Bilal Powell brings a veteran presence and an element of inside power to the second unit. He's appeared in 30 games over the last three years, peaking a year ago with 108 carries for 392 yards and four touchdowns. He won't snap off the long ball, but at 6-0 and 215 pounds, is the type of north-south runner who can soften a defense between the tackles and pick up the tough yards on third-and-short.
Watch Out For .... the health of Anderson's shoulders. Powell and Ashley are nice options off the bench, but Anderson is the headliner of the backfield and the entire offense. He needs to be at full strength in order to play with the fearless style that typified his initial season of action.
Strength: Depth. Yeah, Anderson is feature back when he's healthy, but the staff believes it has three running backs that could start if necessary. All of them have at least one 100-yard day on the brag sheet, giving Louisville different options in the running game and a desired level of depth.
Weakness: Size. As tough and as feisty as Anderson and Ashley are, they're still undersized 185-pound backs, who can absorb only so much pounding. That was never more evident than last season, when Anderson was a frequent scratch. The team doesn't have a guy you'd want to feed 25 times a game, realizing there'll be consequences for that kind of workload.
Outlook: Provided injuries don't once again alter the plan, running back will be the strongest unit on the Cardinal team. Anderson is a bona fide star, and Powell and Ashley bring ideal and complimentary support off the bench. There's a good mix of experience and youth, and enough flash to keep the running game from becoming too methodical.
Projected Starters: The Cardinals need more production out of their receivers, especially now that top pass-catcher Scott Long is out of eligibility. Senior Doug Beaumont is the most productive returner, but not exactly the outside deep threat that Long had become. No, at 5-9 and 183 pounds, he's more of a slot receiver, sitting down in the soft spots of defenses and picking up yards after the catch. He's caught 100 career passes, 38 a year ago, for 1,215 yards, but is still waiting for his first touchdown catch.
Looking more like a power forward than a receiver, 6-9, 250-pound junior Josh Chichester is one of the most physically imposing weapons in the country. His production? Not so much. While he presents obvious matchup problems for any defensive back, he regressed in 2009, catching 17 balls for 202 yards and two scores. Still raw and inconsistent, that's unlikely to keep Louisville from trying to maximize his unique size, especially near the end zone.
Bucking for the full-time job at "Y" receiver is sophomore Stephon Ball , who had his only three catches for 42 yards in the Connecticut game. At 6-4 and 223 pounds, he could have a future at tight end if he adds more weight, but for now, will use his thickness and physicality to box out defensive backs and out leap them on jump balls.
In his second season out of El Camino (Calif.) Community College, 6-4 and 253-pound senior Cameron Graham emerged as the program's best threat at tight end. Playing with the moves and the quickness of an H-back, he proved to be a handful for opposing linebackers, making 27 grabs for 323 yards and two touchdowns. In an offense that prefers the quick-hitters and the middle of the field, he'll continue to be a busy player and an All-Big East candidate.
Projected Top Reserves: Although he has two years remaining, it might be now or never for 6-3, 203-pound junior Troy Pascley to reach his potential in the passing game. He took a step in reverse last fall, likely a product of the quarterback play as well. Athletically, he's smooth and quick, and has the potential to be field-stretcher that the offense covets. Last year's numbers, four catches for 35 yards in nine games, however, isn't going to cut it for the backup at "X".
Andrell Smith is another super-sized sophomore in the hunt for more snaps and attention. He played in nine games as a rookie, mostly on special teams, and generally used the season as an opportunity to learn and get stronger in the weight room. A 6-4, 216-pounder, he can out muscle defenders when the ball is in the air.
Watch Out For .... Beaumont to approach his 2008 production, when he caught 62 passes for 750 yards. More than anyone, he was hurt by the instability at quarterback, but now that he's had time to develop chemistry with Adam Froman and Justin Burke, beefier numbers will follow.
Strength: Size. Beaumont being the lone exception, the Cardinals are flush with long bodies and great overall size. Boasting seven receivers who go at least 6-3, the offense should be able to create match up problems for the opposition and give fits to smaller defensive backs.
Weakness: Consistency. No, it's not all their fault, but the receivers looked lost at times in 2009 and the drops and poor routes did not help the new quarterbacks. Collectively, they need to come together and do their part to help elevate a passing game that produced just eight touchdown catches from the receivers and tight ends.
Outlook: Where's the go-to guy? How about the field-stretcher? While Beaumont has talent and Graham was a revelation at tight end, this remains a marginal unit with suspect depth. It can hurt you with size, but there's not a ton of speed or a consistent threat that opposing defenses will have to scheme to shut down.
Projected Starters: With almost the entire starting offensive line returning intact, Louisville likes its chances of controlling the line of scrimmage this fall. In the middle, sophomore Mario Benavides did a laudable job of replacing all-star Eric Wood, starting all 12 games and performing beyond his years. One of the team's strongest players, he also moves well for a 6-4, 300-pounder and is only going to improve with more experience.
Holding things down at the all-important left tackle spot will be 6-6, 298-pound senior Greg Tomczyk , a versatile veteran of two letters and a dozen career starts at both tackle and guard. He has the footwork coaches look for in a blindside protector, a must for a group that yielded way too many sacks last season.
The favorite to flank Tomczyk at right tackle is 6-8, 298-pound senior Jeff Adams . A starter in each of the last two seasons, he has the right frame and the long arms to excel at the position, but needs to do a much better job of sealing off edge rushers and giving the quarterbacks more time to throw. Needing to become more of a knee-bender, improving his technique is an offseason objective.
The veteran among the guards on the right side is 6-5, 316-pound senior Mark Wetterer , a two-year starter who was in the lineup for all but one game a year ago. He's strong in the upper body and uses his hands well in tight spaces, allowing him to be one of the line's better run blockers.
The most heated competition of the offseason will take place at left guard, where 6-6, 340-pound Joe Evinger is looking to hold off the charge of 6-3, 300-pound redshirt freshman Kamran Joyer . Two very different players, Evinger is a road grader, while Joyer is the better all-around athlete. A heralded recruit out of College of the Canyons in 2009, Evinger appeared in four games and earned one start in his debut with the Cards.
Projected Top Reserves: Louisville is holding out hope that T Byron Stingily can return to the squad without limitations following offseason back surgery. A starter on the left side for all but the finale with Rutgers, he'd begin showing signs of becoming the kind of blocker who'd gotten so much attention while at Joliet (Ill.) College. Despite being 6-5 and 295 pounds, he has good feet and enough agility to help this group.
Senior Josh Byrom is another seasoned blocker the Cardinals are hoping to have at full strength in 2010. He can play multiple positions on the inside and has started a game in each of the last two seasons. While he won't be a threat to anyone's starting job, the 6-5, 305-pounder brings a dose of experience and reliability to the second unit.
Watch Out For .... leaner linemen. One of Charlie Strong's first mandates upon being hired was that everyone needed to trim the body fat and get in much better shape. The offensive linemen will be no exception. Anyone unable to get lean and improve his wind will have a difficult time getting on the field this fall.
Strength: Experience. If nothing else, Louisville has enough returning bodies to not be unnerved by anything thrown its way. Four starters return, four seniors figure to be in the starting lineup, and the second team will be flush with upperclassmen.
Weakness: Pass protection. The quarterbacks can share some of the blame, but this unit was whipped repeatedly off the snap last fall. The Cardinals gave up more than three sacks per game, which was worse than all but nine FBS programs. If the passing game is going to make strides, the line has to carry its weight by giving more time on third down.
Outlook: The front wall has plenty of familiar faces and an equal number of issues to be addressed. Yes, there are building, especially with Benavides at center and Tomczyk at left tackle, but more help is needed if Louisville is to stop the trend of losing battles at the line of scrimmage.
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2010 Louisville Defense |
Louisville Depth Chart
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