First year head coach Charlie Strong has taken over a Louisville team that has fallen a long way since their trip to the Orange Bowl in 2006. They've been through two head coaches since then (Petrino, Kragthorpe), and things have been on a steady decline. This season is Strong's first attempt to return the Louisville program to the national spotlight. Strong brings 27 years of assistant coaching experience to the Cardinals, many of them under Urban Meyer at Florida. Here's a look at his offense:
Adam Froman is Louisville's starting quarterback, often praised for his leadership abilities. Many saw him as the clear and logical choice to start for the Cardinals this season, but Strong made his decision late in fall camp. He started seven games last year (his first as a Cardinal) and went 2-5, throwing for 1,354 yards with a 60% completion rate.
After Louisville's season opening loss to Kentucky, here's what Mike over on Card Chronicle had to say about Froman's performance:
I really like his character and am not convinced that someone else on the roster can play his position better, but Adam Froman simply isn't the caliber of quarterback necessary to achieve success at this level. He doesn't see the field well (50,000 people saw Doug Beaumont wide open in the endzone on our last drive), he doesn't have great arm strength, he's not especially accurate, and I still don't see the tremendous speed that everyone's been talking about for the past year and-a-half.
Running back Bilal Powell, on the other hand, has progressed through the Louisville system and is the bright spot of the offense through two games. He's averaging nearly eight yards per carry and 122.5 yards per game. Junior Vic Anderson has just under 50 yards per game to date. Anderson rushed for 1,407 yards as a freshman but was plagued by injury last year and missed valuable time in the offseason-- Powell has hit the ground running this season as the leader of UL's rushing attack. Watch out for Anderson as a return man, though.
Leading receiver Doug Beaumont (61.5 ypg) finally caught a touchdown pass last week-- his first at Louisville. Believe it or not, Beaumont had played in nearly 40 games and caught 106 passes without picking up a touchdown. Joining him in the receiving corp are top-targets tight end Cameron Graham and Andrell Smith. Froman likes to spread the ball around, however-- 11 different players have caught passes in the first two games.
Other than sophomore center Mario Benavides, the Cardinals start four seniors on the offensive line. Against Eastern Kentucky the line didn't have any problems in pass protection, but Louisville fans would like to see more holes open for Powell and company. The Beavers should be able to get more pressure onto Froman with the front four than they could against TCU and Andy Dalton. If not, there could be serious problems.
This is a game the Beavers should win, and it's game they need to win. Louisville doesn't have the talent level they did when OSU traveled back east in '06, and it's nothing that Charlie Strong or any of the current players brought on themselves. They're picked by many to finish last in the Big East.
--Jake | (firstname.lastname@example.org)