Last season, we saw the consistency of Blanton Creque and Mason King in their unheralded, but all important roles. While the return game was managed by the likes of Reggie Bonnafon and Seth Dawkins, we missed out on the excitement of Jaire Alexander due to his injury suffered in the first game. The first two names mentioned are back in their roles and look to build on already successful careers. The return game will be an interesting decision when the depth chart is released.
Redshirt-Junior Blanton Creque is as good a kicker that the Louisville football program has seen. His accuracy and dependability is up there with former Lou Groza winner, Art Carmody. For his career, Creque is 97-99 on extra points and 33-39 on field goals good for 84.6%. When Creque takes the field, the Louisville fans should feel confident that he’s going to throw points on the board.
Redshirt-Junior Mason King started his Louisville career as a walk-on. Once he got his opportunity, he never looked back. In King’s redshirt freshman season, he set a Louisville record for punting average with 43.9 yards per punt. Like Creque, King’s consistency stands out at this position and his leg will certainly bail Louisville out of certain situations this year. Also, look for the outstanding punter to put opponents in bad situations. In the past two years, the soon-to-be redshirt-Junior has downed 26 punts inside the 20-yard line.
Last season, the return game was highly anticipated as being one of the most exciting aspects of the team. Jaire Alexander had proven to be electric when given space, but the injury suffered against Purdue stopped him from continuing his dominance. Reggie Bonnafon, Russ Yeast, Jaylen Smith and Seth Dawkins all got their share of returns in his absence. This season, sophomore Russ Yeast could emerge as the best option at punt returner. Louisville born and bred, Redshirt-sophomore Keion Wakefield is another guy that you could see getting his shot in the return game. Junior Seth Dawkins will likely be one of the guys back deep to return kicks because of his sure-handedness. Redshirt-senior Cornelius Sturghill claims to be the fastest player on the team and I don’t doubt that for a second. Freshman TuTu Atwell also has a lot of explosiveness and big play ability, so expect to see either of those two either together or alongside Dawkins returning kicks.
While the return game is as much of a guess as anyone’s at this point. The kicking/punting game will continue to be manned by two of the most consistent special team players the Louisville football program has ever seen. Mistake-free football is winning football, and you won’t see many mistakes from this unit.