FSU 2015 Season Preview Series: Louisville

We continue our 2015 season preview series with the Louisville Cardinals.

We continue our season preview series with the Louisville Cardinals. Last Season Louisville fell off a bit as they made their way into the ACC and had to deal with the loss of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and head coach Charlie Strong. Still the Cardinals proved that they were up to the challenge playing the Top-2 teams in the conference, Florida State and Clemson, extremely close.

Against Florida State the Cardinals took a 21-0 lead in the second quarter and looked to have the undefeated Seminoles on the ropes heading into halftime with a 21-7 lead. Florida State exploded in the second half thanks to Dalvin Cook’s 110 yard and 2 touchdown performance. Winston threw three interceptions in the first 30:17 of the game and then threw for three touchdowns in the second half. Florida State ended up winning 42-31 in a game that was much closer than the score indicated.


Schedule


Schedule

Win Probability

Sep. 5 Auburn (Neutral)

.3

Sep 12. Houston

.85

Sep. 17 Clemson

.3

Sep. 26 Samford

1

Oct. 3 At NC State

.65

Oct. 17 At Florida State

.25

Oct. 24 Boston College

.65

Oct. 30 At Wake Forest

.75

Nov. 7 vs. Syracuse

.65

Nov. 14 UVA

.75

Nov. 21 At Pitt

.6

Nov. 28 At Kentucky

.55

Overall

7.3

Once again Louisville is starting off the season with a bang by playing No. 7 Auburn in their opening game of the season in the Georgia dome. Louisville will still be dealing with the numerous losses on both sides of the ball, and this game could be a bit one sided. There are two other games on the schedule, Clemson and Florida State, where the Cardinals will be underdogs, but they should be favored in the remaining games.

It will be interesting to see how Louisville’s season turns out because they have had to replace so many key pieces to their team. They could end up as a 10 win team or a 6 win team.



Offense


Projected Starters


Quarterback

Will Gardner

Running Back

Brandon Radcliff

Full Back

Lamar Atkins

Wide Receiver

James Quick

Wide Receiver

Jamari Staples

Tight End

Keith Towbridge

Left Tackle

Kelby Johnson

Left Guard

Pedro Sibiea

Center

Tobijah Hughley

Right Guard

Skylar Lacy

Right Tackle

Aaron Epps

Key Players


WR James Quick: With Parker injured for most of the season last year Quick stepped up and became the top receiver on the team.


RB Brandon Radcliff: Radcliff led the team in rushing last year and should see even more carries this year with Michael Dyer and Dominique Brown gone. He finished last season with 737 yards, 12 touchdowns, and a 5.1 yard per carry average.




Question Marks


The Offensive Line: Once again the offensive line will be a major concern for the Cardinal offense. Four of the five starters from last season are gone, and the lone remaining starter was a walk-on in 2013.


Overall: Offense

Louisville is losing two of their top three running backs, four of their top five receivers, and four of their starting offensive linemen. They return three quarterbacks who all got playing time in 2014, but not separated themselves from the other. Petrino is going to have his hands full getting this offense ready for a task like Auburn in the first game. Louisville was 51st in the offensive FEI rankings last season and with the losses that they have suffered it is tough to see how they can improve on that.


Defense


Projected Starters

Defensive End

Sheldon Rankins

Nose Tackle

DeAngelo Brown

Defensive End

Pio Vatuvei

Outside Linebacker

James Burgess

Inside Linebacker

Keith Brown

Inside Linebacker

Keith Kelsey

Outside Linebacker

Devonte Fields

Corner

Shaq Wiggins

Strong Safety

Josh Harvey-Clemons

Free Safety

Terrance Ross

Corner

Trumaine Washington

Key Players


LB Devonte Fields: Fields was the Big 12 defensive player of the year in 2012 and as transferred to Louisville after an injury and a suspension sidelined him for the past two years. If he is still the 2012 version of himself he will be hell to deal with for opposing tackles.


SS Josh Harvey-Clemons: The former 5-star safety is another transfer, this time from Georgia. He has the talent to be a great player, but hasn’t lived up to the hype yet.


Question Marks

The Secondary: Louisville lost all four members of their starting secondary, but with the transfers of Harvey-Clemons and Shaq Wiggins from Georgia they should be able to limit the damage. How much of a drop off will there be?

Overall: Defense


Louisville had the second best defense in the ACC last season behind Clemson at sixth in the FEI defensive rankings. The loss of their entire secondary as well as the two of the three top pass rushers on the team will be tough to overcome, but the three major transfers that Louisville picked up will help to ease that pain. Luckily Louisville returns their top pass rusher Sheldon Rankins as well as two of their top linebackers. Still, it will be tough for them to replicate the excellent season they had last year.


Special Teams


Projected Starters


Kicker

John Wallace

Punter

Joshua Appelby

Punt Returner

James Quick

Kickoff Returner

James Quick

Brandon Radcliff


How They Match Up With FSU


Louisville has a ton of questions that they will need to answer before they get to the Florida State game, which is similar to what Florida State is dealing with. Louisville’s offense in particular is dealing with the lack of returning starters at every position except quarterback, where there isn’t a clear cut favorite. Florida State will have the advantage on both offense and defense against the Cardinals and with the Noles playing at home this game should be easier than last years.


Wayne’s Prediction: 27-13 Florida State (Win probability 75%)


Jason’s Prediction: I think this is a very dangerous game for Florida State, especially coming on the heels of the Miami game. Louisville should have one of the nation's best defenses again, especially if Devonta Fields can approach the level of play he showed at TCU, and any Bobby Petrino team will always be dangerous on offense. I think this is the most likely candidate to be an upset this season. I won't pick the Cardinals to win, but I think they're going to give FSU a lot of trouble in this one. If FSU makes it through this game undefeated, however, look out, because this could also be the "turn the corner" game for a young Seminoles team. I have a 27-24 Florida State (Win probability: 60%)

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