By Pat Taggart, Associate College Football Editor
2009 SEASON IN REVIEW: Oh how the mighty have fallen. Louisville went to nine
consecutive bowl games, culminating with a 2007 Orange Bowl victory over Wake
Forest. Since then, however, the Cardinals have declined like a historically
bad day on Wall Street. Steve Kragthorpe failed miserably in three seasons at
the helm, and for that reason he was fired after the 2009 campaign.
After beating lowly Indiana State in the opener, the Cardinals were knocked
off in three consecutive contests, including a 25-point setback against
Pittsburgh in the league lidlifter. There were many lopsided losses during the
season, including a 31-point beating at Cincinnati and a 20-point setback at
home to Rutgers in the finale. The Cards finished the season with a 4-8
record, which included a 1-6 mark against Big East competition. The lone win
came over Syracuse by one point at home, not exactly cause for celebration.
The man chosen to take over for Kragthorpe is Charlie Strong, the former
defensive coordinator at Florida, who obviously brings a winning track record
and attitude to campus. "Some guys are just eating up scholarships," says
Strong, who is attempting to rebuild the program. "If you're here, you've got
OFFENSE: It is hard to believe that Louisville ranked 71st in the nation in
passing last season considering the fact that the Cardinals were one of
college football's top passing teams during the "glory days". The Cards
averaged a dismal 18.1 ppg in 2009, good for the 111th position among all FBS
Adam Froman, Will Stein and Justin Burke all saw time under center last
season, and while all three return for the 2010 campaign, none appears capable
of running a successful offense. Froman may win the job by the time the season
opens, but keep an eye on freshman Dominique Brown.
There isn't much to work with at the receiver position, especially considering
the fact that Scott Long has moved on. Perhaps Josh Chichester will be a
factor at 6-9, but so far his game hasn't been nearly as impressive as his
Moving to the tailback position, there is some talent in place. Victor
Anderson is an impressive performer who has averaged 5.6 yards per carry over
his first two seasons, but he needs to prove that he can stay healthy,
especially after some nagging injuries a year ago. Bilal Powell and Darius
Ashley are two more proven commodities out of the backfield that will
DEFENSE: While the Louisville offense struggled last season, the defense
yielded sub-par results. Obviously, the unit was on the field quite a bit
because of the offense's inability to sustain drives. The Cardinals allowed
26.3 ppg and 371.1 total ypg, numbers that can certainly stand some
The biggest problem for the club was that it finished last in the league
against the run. There is a glaring lack of size on the defensive side of the
ball, and while Strong figures to improve the unit by his presence alone, it
will take the coach a couple of years to get his type of player in place. At
the linebacker position, Antwon Canady figures to be a fixture in the middle.
A solid competitor, Canady is more steady than spectacular. Brandon Heath has
been a disappointment thus far, but the senior has the talent to be an impact
performer in his final collegiate season.
In the defensive backfield, there is a ton of room for improvement. Johnny
Patrick is an aggressive corner who is the tier's only returning starter. Up
front, keep an eye on Greg Scruggs, who may prove to be the best of the bunch.
Unfortunately, that isn't saying much.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Junior Chris Philpott will handle the placekicking duties, and
that should be an area of strength.
"I've really been pleased about Philpott," said Strong after the team's annual
Red-White game. "He's really been banging the ball really well, hitting a 53-
yarder which is really good for him because we need our kickers to have some
confidence and that is what he was able to do."
Trent Guy, who returned both punts and kickoffs, is gone and will be missed.
OUTLOOK: Strong certainly earned his shot to coach a collegiate team and may
very well succeed, but Louisville fans will have to be patient. Kragthorpe
really destroyed the program in regard to its ability to compete, and Strong
will need a couple of seasons to turn things around. If the Cardinals can win
six games this year, which seems like a longshot, Strong may be canonized.