Louisville Cardinals kicker John Wallace (45) kicks a field goal during the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Louisville Cardinals Football Preview: Special Teams

Welcome to the first of our three part 2014 Louisville Cardinals Football Preview series. Today we will take a look at the special teams units, followed by defense tomorrow, and finally the offense on Sunday. It’s finally getting close to football season and the excitement around the city is starting to heat up. A new coach, a new conference, a new QB, and a new schedule are just some of the major changes heading into the season and we hope to give you all a better since of what has changed and what is to be expected.

What’s Changed

Special teams is the one area this year that should not have a lot of major changes as far as personnel is concerned. The good news is that the majority of players are upper classmen and have a good amount of experience under their belt. The bad news is that most of these guys are the same players that have seen some major struggles in special teams over the past couple of years, especially in the return game. So my hope is that the biggest change involves new schemes and blocking patterns so that we actually start drives outside of our own 25 yard line sometimes.

The biggest change that has already taken place is the new special teams coordinator, Tony Grantham. Tony is new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s brother and he comes with years of experience, but mostly with coaching linebackers which he will do here as well. He did run special team at Eastern Illinois back when Tony Romo played there.

Major Players

John Wallace K

Wallace had a great year last year coming within one field goal of tying Art Carmody’s record for most in a season. He’s already been named to the Lou Groza award watch list and he’s only a junior.

Ryan Johnson P

The local senior out of DeSales High School brought some consistency to the punting game last year averaging 41.2 yards per punt. His best performances have been in the bigger games like Kentucky when he had his longest punt of the year at 54 yards.

Charles Gaines/James Quick KR

If there is to be improvement in the special teams area, then these speed demons need to be let loose. I love seeing James Quick back there because he’s an athlete that needs to see the field more often and Petrino always finds a way to get his best athletes on the field one way or another.

Season Outlook

With the talent and experience in the kicking game, Louisville should been one of the best in the ACC this year in that aspect. I think the new coaching staff will help to improve the return game and while we may not see a bunch of touchdowns scored from returns, I expect an improvement in average starting field position.

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