2012 Recap: Remembered: Louisville upset Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Not remembered: Louisville won six games by one-score or less, including Florida international (SRS 102), Southern Miss (SRS 122) and South Florida (SRS 89). They beat two FBS teams, Temple and Kentucky, by more than 10 points. They were beaten by Syracuse and lost to UConn at home. The Cardinals won 11 games. They played a schedule that permitted them to do so while finishing 28th according to Football Outsiders and 44th according to SRS. Progression will happen from how good they were, not how good they appeared to be.
Offense: It’s obviously the Teddy Bridgewater show. He’s the presumptive No. 1 quarterback off the board next April. He was the 8th rated passer last year as a sophomore. He should have a monster season. Michael Dyer, if he’s in shape, could be a huge transfer for the Cardinals, as their best running back Senorise Perry is coming off a torn ACL. The real concern is the offensive line. Louisville loses three players, including the two best, from a unit that ranked 85th in sacks allowed and 106th in yards per carry. Bridgewater was bogged down by injuries late last season. Louisville can’t have him taking more shots like this.
Defense: The Cardinals defense should improve. Nine starters return, including six of the front seven. Five of them are seniors. They could use more plays from that group this season, as Louisville finished dead last in the Big East in sacks and tackles for loss in 2012. Adrian Bushell, a cornerback, is a loss. Though, having two returning All-Conference safeties ameliorates that concern somewhat.
Schedule: Louisville now has “expectations,” but the school must hang around with old Jo for one more season. They play no one of note. The “tough” portion of their schedule is three weeks in October: Rutgers, UCF and at USF. Tricky road games at UConn and at Cincinnati. Not so devastating. They will be favored in all 12 games.
Ceiling: 12-0. The offensive line settles in. Bridgewater stays healthy. The defense is stalwart, or at least stalwart enough. Louisville wins every game in which they will be favored. So, all of them.
Floor: 8-4. The offensive line falters. Bridgewater gets banged up. Louisville gets embroiled in a number of one-score games again. They don’t go 6-1.
Prediction: 10-2. To go undefeated, you have to be consistent enough to not have an off day or talented enough to make an off-day not matter. Not sure Louisville will be either of those. They have cold weather week night games on the road against Connecticut and Cincinnati. Mark Stoops’ Kentucky on the road could get interesting. Willie Taggart could have some folks on the bus by late in the season. There are just too many games you can’t pencil down wins.
[Photo via USA Today Sports]
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