Tonight at 7:30 Cardinal fans will get a chance to see their team in a real scrimmage under new head coach Bobby Petrino. There will be plenty to watch for tonight as Louisville kicks off a new era of football heading into the ACC. With a totally new system on offense and a coach known to put up tons of points it will be interesting to see how much the offense improves.
The most intriguing thing to watch for in this game is the progression at the quarterback position, most notably that of Will Gardner. Will Gardner seems to be the front runner to replace Teddy Bridgewater and will be expected to produce at a high level with a lot of Teddy’s weapons still on the team.
Petrino is known for being one of the greatest offensive minds of his time and will have plenty to work with in his first season back at Louisville. Petrino loves to feed the studs and this bodes well for the gifted playmakers on Louisville’s roster. Devante Parker considered if only briefly, going to the NFL after last season; with coach Petrino calling the plays on offense, he’ll most likely be glad he came back. Parker is primed to have a great season and should get plenty of touches as Louisville’s number one receiver. Will be interesting to see how often Petrino goes to Parker in single coverage and lets him go up and get the ball, which we all know Spiderman can do.
The receivers that might benefit most from Petrino taking over is 6’5 Tennessee transfer Matt Milton and sophomore James Quick. Milton possesses the size and speed to be a gifted receiver but didn’t get much of a chance under Charlie Strong; word is the Cardinal staff likes what they have seen thus far from Milton. Quick got a few chances to display his talent under Strong, but under Petrino the speedy receiver and former track star should look to get the ball a lot in the open field, where he can use his quickness to make plays. Coach Petrino likes to spread the ball, so I look for all of Louisville’s talented receivers to benefit greatly from the coaching change.
A couple of other offensive players we might want to keep an eye on tonight, because I expect them to have break out seasons are tight ends Gerald Christian and Keith Towbridge. Both tight ends are physically gifted athletes who can catch the ball well and are a handful to bring down. Petrino loves to use the tight end and these guys should put up good numbers this year.
The running back position is loaded, not only does it return last year’s leading rusher Dominique Brown, it adds someone who may be this year’s true freshmen breakout player in L.J. Scott. Scott is a powerful back that has speed and great hands out of the backfield, which are all the tools Petrino looks for in a running back. Add in a healthy Michael Dyer, Brandon Radcliff, and Corvin Lamb and you have quite the group of talented backs to work with.
Although Louisville has large shoes to fill at quarterback, the offensive line will likely be the biggest question mark on Louisville’s offense. Louisville returns 3 solid starters in Jake Smith who will move back to the guard position, and the talented left side of the line in Jamon Brown and John Miller. The focus this spring was finding guys who will contribute consistently at the center position and at right tackle. Tobijah Hughley a walk-on sophomore may be an option at the center position and will be one to watch tonight. Pedro Sibea a converted defensive lineman will be another interesting player to keep an eye on this evening.
There will be plenty to watch for tonight, some of our questions as fans may be answered, others it may take until fall when we bring in a talented freshmen class and guys get healthy, but either way it will be exciting to see what product we’re taking into the new ACC era of Louisville football.