Louisville Football: With Bobby Back the Cardinals Could Fly High
- Updated: March 7, 2014
College football is a very funny sport. Every season a new team seems to rise to the top of the heap and threaten for the National Title. While the SEC will always be a force in the sport several other teams from other conferences have proved they are up for the challenge. Last year it was the Florida State Seminoles out of the ACC and this year it could be another team from that same conference that makes some noise.
The Louisville Cardinals have a new coach that is a familiar face. After a seven-year hiatus that included an abrupt departure from the Atlanta Falcons and a damaging scandal at Arkansas, Bobby Petrino is back in charge at Louisville insisting he’s a changed man. Fans will be watching closely to see if he has changed his stripes away from the field, but also whether he can rekindle the same offensive fireworks he delivered in his first stint with the Cardinals. He has been successful in this job before and if he can get his team and his fans to buy in, the Cardinals could make noise once again.
The biggest question for this team will be who will play the quarterback position. Sophomore Will Gardner is perhaps the favorite, but he has just 12 career pass attempts. Redshirt freshman Kyle Bolin is close behind, while Reggie Bonnafon is set to arrive in the fall. With a fast paced offense being installed, it will be easy to see who has the skills to run the show.
They will also need to replace some pivotal pieces on defense. Hakeem Smith finished fifth on the team in tackles last season, breaking up five passes and defending eight more. Calvin Pryor finished second on the team in tackles, making 5.5 stops in the backfield and forcing two fumbles. Each player recorded three interceptions last season. Both were first-team all-conference players in the American. And both are now gone to the NFL, with Pryor likely hearing his name called on Day 1 of the draft. The Cardinals will have to fill those holes.
The Cardinals have plenty of hurdles and they will get tested with a difficult schedule. The schedule is much more challenging in 2014, too, with games against Florida State, Clemson, Notre Dame and Miami. The program is a step behind Florida State and Clemson, but Bobby Petrino sure knows how to coach. He won 10 or more games in the SEC West. Twice. Their chances are remote, but they should still be one of the top-tier ACC teams this year. This experience will not only make the Cardinals a team to watch this season, but in the foreseeable future.