2012 Louisville Cardinals Football Preview
2011 Record: 7-6 (5-3 Big East)
Head Coach: Charlie Strong, third season (14-12 at Louisville) (14-13 overall)
Projected Returning Starters: 14
Spring Game: April 14th (Red 28 White 24)
Notes: Louisville’s program enjoyed great success from 2003-2006, with then-Coach Bobby Petrino compiling a record of 31-9. During that time, Louisville was 4-0 against rival Kentucky, with an average margin of victory of 20.5. Contrast that with Louisville’s dark years, under Steve Kragthorpe – Louisville was 15-21, including a 0-3 record against Kentucky (average margin of defeat of 11.7). Under Charlie Strong, the program has slowly comeback. After going 3-4 in Big East play in Strong’s first season, the Cardinals were co-Big East champs last season, defeating rival Kentucky, in Lexington. Even with a freshman quarterback last season, Louisville was able to win a big road game against West Virginia.
BVTSB Take: Louisville’s strength heading into 2012 is their offensive line. The Cardinals return four of their five starters. C Mario Benavides started the last 10 games last year, earning all Big East Honorable Mention. RG Jake Smith started all 13 games last season, while his counterpart, LG John Miller started 10 games, missing 3 with an injury. LT Alex Kupper started 10 games at LT last season and 3 at C. RT Ryan Mack is a redshirt freshman who is the lone offensive lineman without experience. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a highly touted prospect (4 star) out of Miami, had some growing pains at time last season. Still, he threw for 2129 yards, completing 64.5% of his passes, had 14 touchdown passes, but 12 interceptions. With better pass protection and better decision-making, Bridgewater’s numbers will improve in 2012. Louisville loses starter Victor Anderson (539 yards rushing and three touchdowns), but Dominique Brown actually had more carries. Brown had 533 yards on the ground and four rushing touchdowns – expect his numbers to improve as he starts this season. Bridgewater’s top two receivers return – Michaelee Harris and Eli Rogers. Harris and Rogers accounted for 909 yards receiving (33% of team’s receiving yards), but only three receiving touchdowns (15.8% of team’s receiving touchdowns). DeVante Parker will join Harris and Rogers, starting for the Cards. Parker led the team in touchdown catches with six, while he had 291 receiving yards. Expect the receiving numbers to improve, especially for Harris and Rogers, who should both have at least five touchdown catches apiece this year. Louisville’s non-conference schedule should help prepare them for conference play, especially in their latter three games. The Cardinals open with games against Kentucky, Missouri State, and North Carolina, before hitting the road for games against Florida International and Southern Miss. UL has a great shot at being 4-1 in those games, if not 5-0. Road games against Pittsburgh and Syracuse could be troublesome, as could home games against South Florida and Cincinnati. Still, this team is more than capable of winning the Big East. Circle the October 20th meeting between Louisville and South Florida, at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, as being the game that decides the BCS bid.
2012 Early Projection: 10-2
To see the 2012 Big East composite schedule, click here.
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