Petrino photo: Tim Haag/CardinalSportsZone.com Strong photo: livestream7.com
The Louisville Cardinals had a school record 10 players selected in this past weekend’s NFL Draft. They had the second most of any team, behind Florida State’s 11 picks. Regardless, that looks great for the program. But who do you think should get the most credit? The guy who coached them last season? Or the guy who brought most of those guys to UofL and developed them?
Just for the record, when I refer to Bobby Petrino or Charlie Strong in this, it obviously includes their whole staff as well. Clearly guys like Todd Grantham and Clint Hurtt have a lot to do with the success of those head coaches, but for the sake of time, I will just refer to Petrino and Strong.
Let’s take a look at the 10 draft picks and try to figure out who is most responsible for them getting drafted…
It was a very eventful weekend for the city of Louisville as well as the University of Louisville football program. If you are like me, you were focused on the Derby festivities, but kept an eye on the NFL Draft at least. The Kentucky Derby is what this city is known for, and I was lucky enough to have tickets, so of course that was where my attention was. But I also get mobile alerts, and somehow my phone was working at Churchill Downs, so I was aware when former Louisville players were getting drafted, which was a plus.
In all, a school record 10 players from UofL were drafted. Florida State had the most players with 11. On top of those 10 for the Cards, four (so far) have also signed free agent deals and will have a chance to make a team.
Here is just a quick rundown of where the players were selected.
Earlier this week, I posted about five players to watch on offense at this Friday’s spring football game. Now it is time for the five players to watch on defense. Once again, these won’t be the obvious guys that you already know about like Sheldon Rankins or James Burgess. Rather, this will be a list of guys that you may or may not have heard of, but that we expect to make an impact in the 2015 season for the Cards.
Once again, just for reference, I will tell you the five guys we highlighted going into last year’s spring game, just to show we may have an idea of what we are talking about. And if this is completely wrong this year, my fault. Last year’s five to watch on defense:
1) Keith Kelsey – Had to fill the void left by Preston Brown last season. I would say he did that.
2) Sheldon Rankins – Like I said, not even listing him this year because he is obvious. Was not obvious at this point last year.
3 & 4) Richard Benjamin & Chucky Williams – Had these guys on here because of the loss of Hakeem Smith and Calvin Pryor. Had no idea Gerod Holliman would blow up like he did, and James Sample wasn’t even a thought to be a Cardinal at the time.
5) Trevon Young – Didn’t have a breakout season, but also played a similar position as some guy named Lorenzo Mauldin. He still appeared in 11 games though.
So what that shows is this list may miss a time or two (Benjamin and Williams) or it can have guys on here that can be huge on defense (Kelsey and Rankins). Take it for what it’s worth. It would be easy to name the big-time guys. Taking a couple chances here.
Over the last few days, there have been plenty of posts on the NFL Combine with information on former Louisville players and how they performed. That is what happens when you send 11 players up to Indianapolis for the event. Here are links to all of the posts from CSZ regarding the NFL combine…
Gerod Holliman only participated in the bench press at the NFL Combine, where he got 17 reps. That ranked 6th among safeties. Nobody made more of a name for himself in such a short period of time for UofL than Gerod Holliman. In his only year of starting, Holliman tied the NCAA record for interceptions in a season with 14. Here are his measurements as well as his analysis from NFL.com.
Arm Length: 32″
Weight: 218 lbs
Hands: 9 1/2″
Analysis from NFL.com
The following comes from Andrea Adelson, who covers the ACC for ESPN.com. She recently posted an article wrapping up the first season in the ACC for the Cards. It may not have ended how we wanted it to, but I agree that overall, it was a successful first season in our new league.
There is only one way to describe the story of Louisville’s first season in the ACC:
Especially when you consider what the Cardinals had to deal with throughout 2014. Forget about the new staff and schemes. Louisville had to go without its best player for seven games; played three different quarterbacks; and faced perhaps the toughest schedule in school history.
On Monday afternoon, it was learned that the Louisville Cardinals will not only have to replace Gerod Holliman in the secondary next season, but also James Sample, who will forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft.
Louisville Safety Gerod Holliman has been named a 1st Team Associated Press All American. This is another honor for Holliman to go along with the Jim Thrope Award (Nations best Defensive Back), 1st Team All ACC, as well as being named to the Walter Camp All American team. Holliman becomes the first AP All American for the Cards since Elvis Dumervil in 2005.
Full AP All American 1st Team:
The Associated Press All-America team.
Quarterback — Marcus Mariota, junior, 6-foot-4, 219 pounds, Oregon
Running backs — Melvin Gordon, junior, 6-1, 213, Wisconsin; Tevin Coleman, junior, 6-1, 210, Indiana.
Tackles — Brandon Scherff, senior, 6-5, 320, Iowa; Spencer Drango, junior, 6-6, 310, Baylor.
Guards — Tre Jackson, senior, 6-4, 330, Florida State; Laken Tomlinson, senior, 6-3, 320, Duke.
Center — Reese Dismukes, senior, 6-3, 296, Auburn.
Tight End — Nick O’Leary, senior, 6-3, 247, Florida State.
Wide receivers — Amari Cooper, junior, 6-1, 210, Alabama; Rashard Higgins, sophomore, 6-2, 188, Colorado State.
Kicker — Roberto Aguayo, sophomore, 6-1, 203, Florida State.
All-purpose player — Shaq Thompson, junior, 6-1, 228, Washington.
Ends — Joey Bosa, sophomore, 6-5, 278, Ohio State; Vic Beasley, senior, 6-3, 235, Clemson.
Tackles — Malcolm Brown, junior, 6-2, 320, Texas; Danny Shelton, junior, 6-2, 339, Washington.
Linebackers — Scooby Wright III, sophomore, 6-1, 246, Arizona; Hau’oli Kikaha, senior, 6-3, 246, Washington; Paul Dawson, senior, 6-2, 230, TCU.
Cornerbacks — Senquez Golson, senior, 5-9, 176, Mississippi; Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, senior, 5-10, 195, Oregon.
Safeties — Landon Collins, junior, 6-0, 222, Alabama; Gerod Holliman, sophomore, 6-2, 213, Louisville.
Punter — Tom Hackett, junior, 5-11, 187, Utah.
This week on 55…………
We talk Basketball watch party. We talk big win over Notre Dame. We talk ranked teams and end of seasons. I will share a story of my trip to Notre Dame, a gallery of the trip and more tidbits as we go. We talk kentucky football and much, much more. So without further adieu, get ready for the ride. Without further interruption, here are the things from this week that stood out to me the most. The most ridiculous, interesting and factual things I came across. This is 55……….
The Jim Thorpe Award is given out each season to the Nations top Defensive Back and today Louisville’s Gerod Holliman was named one of 15 semifinalist. Holliman leads the nation with 8 interceptions and ranks 7th in tackles on the #1 defense in the land with 24. Look for Holliman to be a finalist for the Thorpe Award when all is said and done.
Full list of Semifinalist:
Sam Carter, TCU, Sr.
Jeremy Cash, Duke, Jr.
Landon Collins, Alabama, Jr.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon, Sr.
Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech, So.
Senquez Golson, Ole Miss, Sr.
Josh Hawkins, East Carolina, Jr.
Gerod Holliman, Louisville, Jr.
Ronald Martin, LSU, Sr.
Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss, Sr.
Jordan Richards, Stanford, Sr.
Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma, So.
Triston Wade, UTSA, Sr.
Trae Waynes, Michigan State, Jr.
PJ Williams, Florida State, Jr.
ESPN released their College Football Mid Season All American Teams today and Louisville safety Gerod Holliman was on it. The former Army All-American came out of nowhere this season to lead the nation in interceptions with 7. At this pace I don’t see a way Holliman isn’t on this same list when the season ends as well as many post season awards list. Holliman, only a (RS) Sophmore, can return to Louisville for the next two seasons so it’s possible he is only getting started!!
S Gerod Holliman, Louisville: Holliman has been the breakout star on one of the nation’s top defenses through seven weeks. The Louisville sophomore has already racked up seven interceptions, which leads the nation. A year ago, only Virginia’s Anthony Harris had more for the entire season. More importantly, Holliman’s contributions have helped the Cardinals overcome a lackluster offense early with a defense that has allowed just three offensive touchdowns to FBS foes all year. — David M. Hale
Louisville’s offensive and defensive coordinators, Garrick McGee an Todd Grantham (respectively), met with the media over the last couple of days to discuss the upcoming game against Clemson. They also talked about their own team a little bit. The links to the videos are provided, as well as summaries of key notes they talked about.
-Practice was good. The kids were spirited. Not everything was perfect but it’s like that on Tuesdays because you are installing a new game plan, playing against a new defensive structure, but the spirit was there.
-Clemson has a really good defensive scheme. They have powerful guys in the middle. They have one of the top pash rushers in the country (Vic Beasley). They have three really good linebackers. They have length at safety. “I think #20 is 6’4.” So they present plenty of challenges for us.
Highlights from the game last night from the ACC Digital Network.
Well the Cards just went to the Carrier Dome and exercised some demons. Going up to a place that hasn’t been to friendly, Louisville leaves Syracuse with the 28-6 victory. They improve to 5-1 on the season and are now 3-1 in ACC play. Here are just some quick thoughts right after the game.
*First off, the defense was outstanding once again. After facing 3 freshman quarterbacks in their first 5 games, the Cards finally faced a team that has been decent on offense. Senior QB Terrel Hunt threw for 294 yards last week against Notre Dame. Louisville held him to 196 yards in this game and he threw 2 interceptions and 0 touchdowns. He obviously didn’t throw for a touchdown because this defense didn’t give up a touchdown all game. In fact, they haven’t given up a touchdown since the 3rd quarter in the Virginia game.
Here are the depth charts listed on each team’s website for Friday night’s game between Louisville and Syracuse. For Louisville, although it does say “Will Gardner or Reggie Bonnafon,” we know that Coach Petrino has announced that Reggie Bonnafon will start the game. It does list Matt Milton as a starter at wide receiver. Personally, I am STILL waiting for him to break onto the scene. I feel like I have been hyping him up for 3 years now.
The offensive line still has the “or” word used at center and right guard. Another interesting note is that James Quick is not listed as the first or second punt returner. Sticking with special teams, Brandon Radcliff is not listed as a starting kick returner, possibly indicating that he will continue to get more carries from the running back position.
11 Will Gardner 6-5 226 So.
or 7 Reggie Bonnafon 6-3 206 Fr.
12 Brett Nelson 6-4 220 Sr.
Anytime I go to a UofL football game, I like to watch it back on DVR before typing up too much about it. It is easy to have initial thoughts and reactions while at the game, but you do notice a lot more when you watch it again on TV. So since I finally was able to do that and I just finished with it, I will close the book on the Wake Forest game with these few thoughts, before moving on to Syracuse.
*I believe that Reggie Bonnafon had a very good game. In my 3 quick hitters after the game, I mentioned this, but I have to expand on that after seeing the game again. If you just look at the stats, you would think he was average at best. He threw for 206 yards on 16/32 passing and did not throw for a touchdown. He also did not have an interception. He rushed for 46 yards on 14 carries. Two of those carries were on 3rd and long and he picked up the 1st down with big runs. Huge plays!
Speaking of 3rd and long, the rest of the offense did not do him any favors when it came to down and distance. In the first quarter, actually on the same drive, the offense for the Cards had two different penalties on 3rd down that backed them up to 3rd and long. On 3rd and 9, there was an illegal substitution that backed it up to 3rd and 14. Bonnafon would actually convert that into a 1st down with a great throw to Eli Rogers, but that kind of penalty just can’t happen. Then on 3rd and 4, the Cards were called for a chop block, backing them up to 3rd and 18. On the next play, Bonnafon was sacked. Before the chop block was called, Louisville had picked up that 1st down on 3rd and 4.