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.
The Louisville Cardinals had their football pro day on Wednesday inside the Trager Center, and there were representatives in attendance from all 32 NFL teams. There were three head coaches there: New England’s Bill Belichick, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, and Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis. The cool thing about that to me is that they easily could have been somewhere else since both Alabama and Southern California also had their pro days on Wednesday. I am sure they sent team personnel to those also, but to have any head coaches here is a pretty big deal.
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…
A few days ago, I posted James Sample’s results from the NFL Combine in the tests he participated in. This one is a little different. This will show his measurements and the analysis on him from NFL.com. It also gives his grade, and what that number means as a projection for him as a pro.
Arm Length: 32″
Weight: 209 lbs
Hands: 9 1/2″
Analysis from NFL.com
James Sample was a very late addition to the roster for the University of Louisville in 2014. This was definitely a case of better late than never. Sample sure did his part to fill the void left by Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith in the defensive backfield. At the NFL Combine, Sample participated in 4 of the workouts. Here are his results, along with where his numbers rank among safeties. I will also post the leader for each category.
40 Yard Dash
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.
This week on 55………………..
I am going to switch it up a little bit. After doing 55 for about a year now, I wanted to do something a little different. I know, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I just want to give this a try. Instead of bringing you 55 facts each week, I am going to write a column that I break down into 4 quarters. 1st Quarter: Football, 2nd Quarter: Basketball, 3rd Quarter: Cardinal Athletics, 4th Quarter: Our best stories and weeks best tid-bits that doesn’t fit into the first three-quarters. In weeks there are no Football games, I will make that week a quarter where one fan will be chosen to have a guest spot on 55 and discuss anything UofL. I feel like this will give 55 a fresh look and if you guys don’t like it let me know and I will go back. Like I said, I’m just looking for new ways to do the same thing and that’s entertain you. Wonder who will be the first fan columnist for the 11/17 Episode? Tweet me and hashtag #55GuestSpot. I will only pick out of these people. If you tweet me at @Jeremy_CSZ and say I want to but don’t include the hashtag #55GuestSpot then you are out of luck. Simple directions people…. Without further interruption, here are the things from this week that stand out to me the most. The most ridiculous,interesting and factual things I came across. This is 55……….
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.
My first game with Louisville as a member of the ACC was magnificent. It started out with the best CardMarch I have ever been to. It didn’t seem like I tailgated since 3pm either. I know some were out longer but that’s the earliest I could get out. Walking through the sea of CardNation after the CardMarch was amazing too. Walked by Luke Hancock, the entire UofL Basketball Team and even seen Miss Rose Bridgewater. It was a great time. Then we took the long walk to Section 9 Row GG to our seats. I thought I was gonna die. I sat down and did not move until the clock hit 0:00. (unlike 20% of the crowd) But I understood this time, Late night game, work and school tomorrow, I will give you some slack. I will not however give the 15,000 people who decided to spend the 2nd half on the party deck any slack. lol. They really should make those standing room only seats. It would increase capacity too!. The game was what I expected from a “Rookie” QB. Will Gardner did have a rough night but he didn’t do anything wrong that coaching and a nice game vs Murray State won’t fix. 3rd most yards in a opener under Petrino at QB isn’t too shabby either. Dom Brown and the entire receiving core impressed me. We said multiple people would have to step up to cover DP being out and boy did they ever. The entire Defense was amazing too. Lozo, Rankins, Kelsey AKA Mr 55 (cheap pop), Floyd, Sample, Holliman, Brown, Burgess and whoever else I forgot just made me glow.
It’s getting to be that time where the national publications release their preseason college football polls. There will be many different ones of course. This one is from Lindy’s, who have the Cards at #31 on their countdown. I would expect this to be about where most magazines and other media outlets have the Cards, somewhere around that #25 mark. Many factors will contribute to that. Yes there is a lot of talent back, but the uncertainty of a new QB, replacing 3 first round NFL Draft picks, and everything you already know about.
Here is what Lindy’s says about the Cards in 2014…(They mention Robert Clark, but of course he has transferred to Samford.)
According to Insidetheville.com, Louisville has added another Junior College player for the 2014 season. Carl Williams, a 6’1 safety from Eastern Arizona College, is the latest to commit to Bobby Petrino.
He is originally from Jacksonville, Florida and was committed to South Alabama coming out of high school. Louisville recently offered him a walk-on position with the team. His dad told Insidetheville that they are working on finding him a scholarship.
Williams will be the 5th JUCO addition to the 2014 class since signing day in February. He joins Pio Vatuvei (defensive end), Pat Thomas (quarterback), Isaac Watson (safety), and James Sample (safety).
Last night Lars Hanson, who covers the Washington Huskies for 247sports, tweeted:
Sample, a former US Army All American, was a top 10 safety out of High School. After two seasons with the Huskies and some injuries Sample went to the JUCO ranks and spent last season at American River (CC). The 6’2 191 lbs Sample should be eligible immediately with two years remaining and would add much needed help and depth to the Safety position for Petrino and the Cards. Follow Sample on twitter @Phenom2323