#10 Louisville Football 2013 Preview

Louisville Cardinals

Overall Rank: #10
#1 American

Louisville Team Page#10 Louisville Football 2013 PreviewBuy Louisville Football Tickets

Those familiar with Big East football and NCAA championship history will not recognize much about the newly formed American Athletic Conference. The Louisville Cardinals come in as the clear favorite after winning the conference a year ago and making the BCS Sugar Bowl. They return a number of key starters from that squad and have the advantage of the rest of the conference being in shambles after new teams are coming in and certain members ran away, scattering to other conferences around the nation. Louisville is one of the better schools in the country regardless. However, they will be tested very little this season in the AAC and seem like almost a shoe-in to nab that BCS automatic bowl berth.

2012 Record: (11-2, 5-2)
2012 Bowl: BCS Sugar Bowl vs. Florida (W 33-23)
Coach: Charlie Strong (25-14 at Louisville, 25-14 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Shawn Watson
Defensive Coordinator: Vance Bedford

Returning Leaders:
Rushing:Senorise Perry, RB, 705 yards
Passing: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, 3,718 yards
Receiving: DeVante Parker, WR, 744 yards
Tackles: Preston Brown, LB, 109
Sacks: Lorenzo Mauldin, DL, 4.5
Interceptions: Terell Floyd, DB, 3

Other Key Returnees: WR Damian Copeland, WR Eli Rogers, OL Jake Smith, DL Marcus Smith, DB Calvin Pryor, DB Hakeem Smith

Key Losses: RB Jeremy Wright, WR Andrell Smith, TE Nate Nord, C Mario Benavides, OL Alex Kupper, DB Adrian Bushell

The best part of this team is their passing offense, thanks to the man throwing those passes. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater returns to Louisville as the best QB in the country and a likely top two NFL draft pick. His freshman and sophomore seasons were both shrouded by awards and his junior year may be no different. Bridgewater comes in as a Heisman Trophy favorite and leading the Cardinals to another BCS bowl win could back that up. The team around Teddy isn't so bad either. Louisville had the best pass defense in the conference last season and many of those same starters return this season. The team's top three tacklers all return with Adrian Bushell really being the only big time contributor who graduated. Bridgewater will see his top two receiving weapons for another season as well, making the Cardinals a veteran heavy squad in 2013.

The problem with playing a weak schedule and poor slate of opponents is that a team doesn't get tested or pushed to be its best. We thought this would be a problem for Louisville last year as they glided to the Sugar Bowl to face overwhelming favorite Florida. Whether Florida was disappointed with their bid or not, Louisville took it to them and won. This season should play out differently though. Louisville now comes in as one of the top teams in the country; playing a weak regular season schedule will not do them any favors come postseason play. And this team is not perfect by any stretch either. They had a weak rushing attack that should struggle to even maintain that production with the graduation of starting back Jeremy Wright. Wright had one more year of eligibility left but decided to leave anyway. And the special teams units a season ago were a disaster, finishing outside the top 100 nationally in punting, punt returns and kick returns. The only other spot where Louisville was comparably weak was making plays for loss on defense. A team that relied heavily on its pass defense was very poor in getting to any ball carries in the backfield, quarterback or otherwise.

The Bottom Line:
Louisville will not face a single out-of-conference team of note this season. They will be favored in every contest. In fact, they may go the whole season without facing a ranked opponent. It seems possible, even if likely is too strong a word, that Louisville will go undefeated. A top two ranking in the final BCS poll will be harder to come by though with no big time opponents on tap. And the Louisville we saw last season, Sugar Bowl performance not withstanding, was not one to blow people's minds enough to vault them up the standings. They made few plays behind the line of scrimmage on defense and had little balance to their prolific passing offense. Of course a monster Teddy Bridgewater season could make all this moot but if we're talking about making the BCS National Championship and impressing voters, it seems like a long shot.

Projected Bowl: Fiesta Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 122.69 (102nd in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 296.08 (24, 1)
Total Offense: 418.77 (52, 3)
Scoring Offense: 31.15 (50, 2)
Rushing Defense: 148.00 (48, 6)
Pass Defense: 192.31 (16, 1)
Total Defense: 340.31 (23, 4)
Scoring Defense: 23.77 (36, 5)
Turnover Margin: .85 (17, 2)
Sacks: 1.69 (78, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 2.38 (85, 6)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#4 Teddy Bridgewater

Madness 2013 Football Recruit Rankings:
#67 James Quick


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