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.
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…
Dominique Brown only participated in 1 workout at the NFL Combine, and that was the bench press. He got 17 reps, which was good for 20th overall with running backs. Listed below are his measurements as well as an analysis from NFL.com. I must say, the scouting report on Brown pretty much lines up with what Bobby Petrino said about him during the season. The knock on him seems to be effort, and that is not a good thing.
Arm Length: 32 3/8″
Weight: 234 lbs
Hands: 9 1/2″
Analysis from NFL.com
This year’s East-West Shrine Game will take place on Saturday, January 17 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Instantly having flashbacks to the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl game in 2010 and leaving there being so excited to have a 7-6 record on the season.
This year’s game will include 6 former Louisville Cardinals playing for the East. And according to this article from cbssports.com, four of those six have been standing out at practices.
Right after the men’s basketball game ended on Tuesday night against Cal State Northridge, UofL twitter didn’t turn all of its attention to the Kentucky basketball game. Instead, news came out from ESPN680 radio that running back Michael Dyer would not play for the Cards in next week’s Belk Bowl. So then, the speculation started about why.
A lot of people recently have been asking about the status of Dominique Brown. It seems like Michael Dyer and Brandon Radcliff have taken over the running back responsibilities. L.J. Scott will get a carry every now and then, but senior Dominique Brown has been nowhere to be found.
In fact, he has not recorded a carry or reception since the Clemson game, which was back on October 11. Aside from the season opener against Miami, where Brown rushed for 143 yards, his most yards this season came at Virginia when he rushed for 74 yards.
Unless you are subscribed to our e-mail list, which sends you an e-mail every time a new post is made on CardinalSportsZone.com, there may be some things you miss during the week. By the way, getting on that e-mail list is a GREAT idea, not to mention easy. On that column there on the right (on the full site), there is a section called “Follow CSZ via email.” Just click “follow” and get signed up. It is a great way to keep up if you can’t always check out the site to see if there are new articles.
Now back to this. If you missed things during the week, or even if you didn’t but want a page with all of the links about Louisville-Syracuse from the week that we posted, here it is for you. This way you don’t have to go search if you want to see things like the depth chart or the video of Bobby Petrino talking about Syracuse. It is all listed below. If anything else gets posted today about the game, I will add it on here too. Hope this makes things easier for you. Go Cards!
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.
After practice on Monday, Bobby Petrino and Eli Rogers met with the media to talk about the team and preview Syracuse. Petrino talks about why Dominique Brown was benched, the status of Will Gardner, and how he thought Reggie Bonnafon did. When asked if there is concern about his team looking ahead to the Clemson game, Petrino laughs it off and says that there are enough players on this team that lost to Syracuse two years ago (45-26) and they have a chip on their shoulder from that.
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.
It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but it was a win. Here are three quick observations from the game yesterday.
The defense had another great game
Some things are obvious, but it has to be said. This defense picked up the slack for the offense once again this game. Gerod Holliman continues to impress as he got his 6th interception of the season and had a great return that almost went for a touchdown. He also had a huge hit on a Wake Forest player that sent him out of the game and got the crowd very energized. He is clearly one of the fan favorites on this team.
For the game, the defense only gave up 3 points, and that was after a fumble by Reggie Bonnafon around midfield. They also only gave up 100 yards of offense from Wake Forest. Lorenzo Mauldin was in the backfield all game and came away with 3 sacks. Sheldon Rankins actually had an interception on what seemed like the 30th time that the Demon Deacons tried to run that shovel pass play up the middle.
Facing a freshman QB for the 3rd time in 5 games, the defense did exactly what they should have done, shut him down.
Bobby Petrino told the media on Thursday that running back Michael Dyer is still questionable for the Virginia game on Saturday. He has practiced the last two days, but is still sore. According to Howie Lindsey, Petrino said that Dyer wants to be back, but there is atrophy in the thigh. Livestrong.com describes atrophy in the leg: The most common reason for atrophy to occur in the legs is disuse. Lack of activity for any reason — illness, injury, seated desk job, sedentary lifestyle — can lead to loss of leg muscle.
When the depth chart was released, it showed Dyer as the backup running back. If he is unable to go for the third straight game this season, L.J. Scott will likely move into the backup role behind Dominique Brown. I think we are all comfortable with Scott as the backup, but it sure would be nice to have Michael Dyer back soon.
Bobby Petrino met with reporters on Thursday to talk a little about the Miami win, as well as preparing for the Murray State game on Saturday. It appears that senior Michael Dyer will not play against the Racers as he is still healing from a thigh injury. They hope he is ready to play next week when the Cards hit the road for their second ACC game at Virginia.
“Yeah I don’t think he’s going to be ready this weekend either,” Petrino said. “Right now we are kind of focusing on getting him ready for Virginia.” Petrino said that is the plan unless something happens in the next 48 hours, but even then, I doubt they risk him this weekend.
The Louisville-Miami game ended about 2 days ago at the time I am typing this. So too much time has passed to write about that game, right? Time to move on to the next game? Nah, not just yet. A game of this magnitude can be celebrated and talked about just a little bit longer than normal games. I started going to UofL football games as early in my life that I can remember, and the games were played on astroturf on a baseball field, not too far from horse manure. Big names like Texas and Penn State came in to play, but still, Louisville was far from a big-time program.
The Cards moved into Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium beginning in the 1998 season. It was definitely a new era of Cardinal football. At the time, we were a program that was nothing more than decent, and in Conference USA. Fast forward to Monday night, and you have seen the Cards in the Big East and the American Athletic Conference. But Monday night, you saw the Cards take on the Miami Hurricanes as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Not just members, but a program that is ready to compete right away.
I remember when you could go to a gas station and get free tickets for UofL football games. I remember the smell of the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center as you are walking into old Cardinal Stadium. I remember watching Ron Cooper lead us to a 1-10 season. I think it is quite alright to let Monday’s huge game/moment last just a little bit longer than usual.
So after watching the game from my new seats in section 224, and finally watching it on DVR to catch anything I may have missed, there are some things that surprised me and some things that didn’t surprise me. I will attempt to outline them now…
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.
During Saturday’s scrimmage, running back Michael Dyer suffered a quad contusion that has held the senior out of practice since. The injury likely occurred by a helmet hitting his thigh. Bobby Petrino met with reporters after practice on Tuesday. Asked if Dyer would be ready for the Miami game on September 1, Petrino said “I hope so.”
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.)
Phil Steele released his Preseason All-ACC teams today, and there were plenty of Louisville Cardinals getting some recognition. DeVante Parker and Jake Smith were the only players to make the first team, although he has Smith as a center. Smith moved to guard in spring practice. On the second team, you will see Lorenzo Mauldin as a defensive end, even though he will basically be a linebacker/defense end hybrid this season. But it’s whatever. In all, 12 different Cards made the list. Charles Gaines is on it twice because he runs with animals.
Of the 12 players on the 1st Team Offense, Florida State has 6 of them. So they will probably be pretty good this season.
Here are the teams. What do you think?
ESPN.com’s David Hale wrote this blog that talked about the top returning football players in the ACC for the 2014 season according to the numbers. Louisville players were not included in the actual lists, but they were certainly mentioned if they would have been a top returner. I may have just confused you with that, so just check out what I am talking about. The following is from the blog on ESPN.com…
Here’s a quick look at the top returning players in the ACC this upcoming season, based on their stats from 2013. (Last year’s ACC ranking in parentheses.)
1. Kevin Parks, Virginia – 1,031 (2nd)
2. Duke Johnson, Miami – 920 (5th)
3. James Conner, Pitt – 799 (8th)
4. Isaac Bennett, Pitt – 797 (9th)
5. Shad Thornton, NC State – 768 (11th)
Of note: Louisville’s Dominique Brown would actually rank third on this list after racking up 825 rushing yards last season, good for fourth in the AAC. Including Brown, the ACC returns 11 running backs this year who accounted for at least 500 yards on the ground in 2013, though Miami’s Dallas Crawford (558 yards) is currently working with the Hurricanes’ secondary. Parks returns after a 1,000-yard season. The last running backs to return following a 1,000-yard effort in the ACC were Gio Bernard and Andre Ellington in 2012. Both topped 1,000 again in their follow-up campaigns.