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2010 NCAA Football Preview: Louisville Cardinals

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Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.

2009 Season Breakdown

2009 final record (overall, conference): 4-8, 1-6
Bowl Game: None
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'): NR, NR
Conference finish: 7th Big East
Offensive rank:
91
Defensive rank: 65

2009 Individual Statistical Leaders

Rushing: Vic Anderson, 473 yards, 5 TD; Darius Ashley, 462 yards, 4 TD
Passing: Adam Froman, 1,354 yards, 6 TD, 5 INTTT
Receiving: Scott Long, 727 yards, 2 TD
Tackles: Scott Long, 727 yards, 2 TD
Sacks: Chris Campa, 6 sacks (6 solo); William Savoy, 5 sacks (5 solo)
Interceptions: Chaz Thompson, 3 interceptionswn)

2010 Season Outlook

Schedule
(* denotes conference game)

louisvillecardinalsschedule

Key Matchups

September 4 vs. Kentucky: The annual rivalry game is always a big event in the state of Kentucky. While the Wildcats lead the all-time series 13-9, Louisville leads the series 9-7 since the teams resumed playing each other in 1994 after going 70 years without a matchup. Kentucky has won the last three, however.

September 18 @ Oregon State: The Cardinals let up big yardage on the ground in quite a few games last season, and will face Beavers running back Jacquizz Rogers in this one. The run defense isn't in terrible shape, but it will be interesting to see how the Cardinals front seven holds up against Rogers with Dion Lewis, Noel Devine and a few other talented running backs looming in the coming weeks. n.

October 15 vs. Cincinnati: The Cardinals will host this Friday night conference matchup that will be seen on ESPN. Speaking of talented running backs, Bearcats running back Isaiah Pead could be in for a breakout year, while Darrin Williams provides a spark for the Cincy rushing game. Zach Collaros is expected to fill in seamlessly for the departed Tony Pike, making this one heck of a challenge for the Cardinals to start conference play.

Preseason Rankings (will not officially be released until August)

AP: N/A

Coaches': N/A

Key Losses

Scott Long, WR; Trent Guy, WR/KR/PR; L.D. Scott, DE/DT; L.T. Walker, DT; John Dempsey, LB; Chris Campa, LB

Key Returning Players

Adam Froman, QB; Justin Burke, QB; Victor Anderson, RB; Bilal Powell, RB; Doug Beaumont, WR; Mario Benavides, C; Brandon Heath, LB; Antwon Canady, LB; Johnny Patrick, CBB

Offensive Overview

New head coach Charlie Strong has yet to decide between Adam Froman and Justin Burke as his starting quarterback. Dominique Brown has also been mentioned as a possibility once he arrives in the fall. The offense returns nine starters from last year's team, but loses leading wide receiver Scott Long. Four of five starting offensive linemen return and center Mario Benavides' name was on the Rimington Watch List.

Running back is the strongest and deepest position on the offense, with Victor Anderson and Bilal Powell returning. Darius Ashley was the second leading rusher in 2009 and scored four touchdowns, but will play the 2010 season in the secondary.

Defensive Overview

The Cardinals lose five starters from 2009, including the interior of their defensive line. Greg Scruggs and 300+ pounder Tim High are expected to start in the middle, while William Savoy, second on the team with five sacks in 2009, and Malcolm Tatum are atop the depth chart at the end positions. Concern has been voiced for the defensive line's ability to put pressure on the quarterback and stand their ground against some of the conference's stronger offensive lines.

Last year's leading tacklers, John Dempsey and Chris Campa, are gone. Antwan Canady and Brandon Heath are expected to carry the load this season, with Dexter Heyman making the switch back to linebacker after playing last season on the defensive line. While the linebacker position isn't all doom and gloom for the Cardinals despite losing its two most productive members, the secondary has seen better days.

Johnny Patrick is a solid cornerback, but after that, it's thin. Anthony Conner is listed as the other starter at corner. He saw action in nine games last year and broke up three passes against Rutgers in the season finale. Safety Terrence Simien was listed as 'no contact' this spring as he recovered from injury. Darius Ashley, a running back last season, will switch to the secondary as the Cardinals try to add depth and talent to the unit.

Special Teams Overview

PuThe Cardinals lose five starters from 2009, including the interior of their defensive line. Greg Scruggs and 300+ pounder Tim High are expected to start in the middle, while William Savoy, second on the team with five sacks in 2009, and Malcolm Tatum are atop the depth chart at the end positions. Concern has been voiced for the defensive line's ability to put pressure on the quarterback and stand their ground against some of the conference's stronger offensive lines.

Last year's leading tacklers, John Dempsey and Chris Campa, are gone. Antwan Canady and Brandon Heath are expected to carry the load this season, with Dexter Heyman making the switch back to linebacker after playing last season on the defensive line. While the linebacker position isn't all doom and gloom for the Cardinals despite losing its two most productive members, the secondary has seen better days.

Johnny Patrick is a solid cornerback, but after that, it's thin. Anthony Conner is listed as the other starter at corner. He saw action in nine games last year and broke up three passes against Rutgers in the season finale. Safety Terrence Simien was listed as 'no contact' this spring as he recovered from injury. Darius Ashley, a running back last season, will switch to the secondary as the Cardinals try to add depth and talent to the unit.

Head Coach: Charlie Strong

Charlie Strong enters his first season as the head coach in Louisville after spending eight years as the defensive coordinator of the Florida Gators. Strong has been well received since arriving in Louisville and brings hope to a team eager to get back to their 2006 form when they went 12-1 and beat Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl.

Strong is a talented recruiter whose relationships and ties to high schools in Florida could prove very helpful in bringing some of the state's deep crop of talent to the Louisville. What Strong also brings to the program is a winner's attitude. As a member of the University of Florida for the past eight seasons, his approach to the game will surely rub off on his players to create a winning environment throughout the program.

   

Top 2011 Draft Prospects

Cameron Graham, TE

Season Prediction

8th Big East

The arrival of Charlie Strong brings hope to Cardinal fans, as well it should, but in the short term, with few proven players on the roster and a question as to who will be leading Louisville under center, success will be hard to come by. The rebuilding project commenced immediately with the arrival of Strong, who is committed to improving Louisville's recruiting classes to put the Cardinals once again in the upper echelons of not only the Big East, but of college football as a whole.

The backfield is solid and the Cardinals will return an experienced offensive line. The running game will be the strength of this team, but would benefit tremendously if either Froman or Burke can take hold of the reins and produce through the air. The defense looks shaky heading into the season, with questions about the effectiveness of the pass rush and the secondary, a lethal combination for many teams. The linebackers should be solid, though, and the Cardinals could improve in run defense.
- Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

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