#24 Louisville Football 2015 Preview

Louisville Cardinals

Overall Rank: #24
#4 ACC

Louisville Team Page#24 Louisville Football 2015 PreviewBuy Louisville Football Tickets

Louisville had a pretty successful debut season in the ACC. They went 5-3 in conference play and 9-4 overall. Despite some terribly inconsistent quarterback play, the Cardinals managed to take care of business and even picked up a couple nice wins over the likes of Miami and Notre Dame. Ironically, it was the defense that led the way for Coach Bobby Petrino’s team. It is usually the offense that thrives under Coach Petrino. This year the offense should take a step to catching up with the defense.

2014 Record: 9-4, 5-3
2014 Bowl: Belk Bowl vs. Georgia (L 14-37)
Coach: Bobby Petrino (50-13 at Louisville, 92-34 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Garrick McGee
Defensive Coordinator: Todd Grantham

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Brandon Radcliff, RB, 737 yards
Passing: Will Gardner, QB, 1,669 yards
Receiving: James Quick, WR, 566 yards
Tackles: Keith Kelsey, LB, 87
Sacks: Sheldon Rankins, DE, 8.0
Interceptions: James Burgess, LB, 3

Other Key Returnees: QB Reggie Bonnafon, K John Wallace

Key Losses: RB Michael Dyer, RB Dominique Brown, WR DeVante Parker, WR Eli Rogers, OL Jamon Brown, OL Jake Smith, S James Sample, LB Lorenzo Mauldin, DB Gerod Holliman, DB Charles Gaines

Louisville allowed just 308.5 yards per game, ranking second in the ACC and sixth in the country. The aggressive 3-4 defense led to over three sacks per game and plenty of turnovers. Despite some holes to fill, the hope is the scheme will yield similar results in 2015. Defensive end Sheldon Rankins and linebackers James Burgess and Keith Kelsey will spend plenty of time in the opponent’s backfield. Rankins tallied 8.0 sacks and 13.5 tackles-for-loss, while Burgess and Kelsey combined for 9.0 sacks and 17.0 tackles-for-loss. The secondary will certainly miss Gerod Holliman, who tied an FBS record with 14 interceptions in 2014. However, Georgia transfers Josh Harvey-Clemons and Shaq Wiggins are eligible this year and should continue the ballhawking ways of the Louisville defense.

The Cardinals never found a quarterback last year and the story could be the same in 2015. Will Gardner played the most last season, throwing for 1,669 yards and 12 touchdowns, with just three interceptions, but he needs to stay healthy. Reggie Bonnafon is a better runner and Kyle Bolin played well against Kentucky in the regular season finale. And then there is Tyler Ferguson, a Penn State transfer to throw in the mix as well. Certainly Coach Petrino has options, but it remains to be seen if anybody will claim the job or if the Cardinals will rotate through quarterbacks again this year. James Quick is the only experienced receiver on the roster and it is time for him to live up to his potential. Meanwhile, Louisville will rely on running back Brandon Radcliff. He rushed for 737 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014 and was playing his best down the stretch.

The Bottom Line:
Coach Petrino is going to get the most out of his offense, but he did last year too and it was not good enough. With mostly the same cast of characters, Louisville will not make a drastic offensive improvement without finding more consistency in the passing game. Louisville hosts Clemson in week three and travel to Florida State on October 17th. Those two games will decide whether or not Louisville is capable of sticking around the ACC Atlantic race.

Projected Bowl: Pinstripe Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 142.7 (92nd in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 252.0 (46, 4)
Total Offense: 394.7 (69, 9)
Scoring Offense: 31.2 (50, 6)
Rushing Defense: 108.9 (10, 3)
Pass Defense: 199.6 (26, 6)
Total Defense: 308.5 (6, 2)
Scoring Defense: 21.8 (24, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.31 (43, 6)
Sacks: 3.15 (9, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 3.15 (114, 13)


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