Anderson new 'face' of Louisville football

Senior running back Victor Anderson, who forms one of the Big East's top running back duo's with Jeremy Wright, replaces Bilal Powell as the 'face' of Charlie Strong's program.

Charlie Strong named senior tight end Josh Chichester the ‘anchor' of his program; senior defensive lineman Greg Scruggs ‘Mr. Reliable,' and senior wide receiver Josh Bellamy ‘Mr. Hardhat.' But senior running back Victor Anderson is the new ‘face' of the Louisville football program.

That honor last season was bestowed to running back Bilal Powell, who now plays for the New York Jets in the National Football League. Anderson certainly has big shoes to fill. Clearly, Strong believes Anderson up to the task.

"Vic is doing an outstanding job," Strong said Tuesday at the Kickoff Luncheon. "He's been through a lot, he's homegrown and he's a special player. He did not miss one day of spring practice, he's been to work every day (in camp), and it's amazing to watch the growth he's made in this program. And he graduated in three years and one summer."

Powell and Anderson share similar stories at UofL, struggling early in their careers – Powell with fumble problems; Anderson with injury-related issues – before breaking out in their final seasons, at least that's the hope for Anderson.

Anderson, who earned Big East Rookie of the Year honors in 2008 after rushing for 1,047, failed to live up to expectations the past two seasons, largely because of injuries. Now healthy, Anderson is one of the team leaders and appears poised to form one of the Big East's top running back duo's with sophomore Jeremy Wright, Louisville's leading returning rusher.

"We feel very good about the running back position with Vic Anderson and Jeremy Wright," UL offensive coordinator Mike Sanford said. "They have the ability to be top level running backs."

"Vic and Jeremy have two different styles," Strong added. "Jeremy is more of a down-hill runner and will remind you a little of Bilal, though he's not as big. Vic is more of an outside runner."

Jeremy Wright
After topping the century mark as a freshman, Anderson rushed for less than 800 yards the past two seasons, failing to score a touchdown as a junior. Despite injuries last season, Anderson still averaged 4.5 yards per carry on 64 attempts, and ranked seventh in the country in kick return average with 30.2 yards per return.

"The running back position is pretty solid," Strong said. "Now we have to get the offensive line to move people like they did last year."

Anderson and Wright won't have the luxury of running behind a veteran offensive line like Powell did last season. Louisville lost four starters on the offensive line and looks to rebuild around veteran center Mario Benavides, a two-year starter and All-Big East candidate, this season.

"They look great," Anderson said of the offensive line. "They're always in the film room studying and trying to get better."

Wright, who rushed for 327 yards and four touchdowns last season, has burst and power similar to Powell. His shining moment as a rookie came at Syracuse, when he stepped in for Powell, who was out with an injury, and rushed for 98 yards and two scores to lead Louisville in a key road win over the Orange. Wright, who had a 64-yard touchdown score against Rutgers, also sparked the Cardinals comeback win over USM with a 95-yard kick return touchdown in the Beef O'Brady Bowl.

"[Bilal] never stopped working in training camp and each day he improved," Wright said. "So I learned to just keeping working. I think we're similar in some ways, but I think we have different running styles. I think the way we approach the hole is different."

Like the oft-injured Anderson, Wright missed spring practice after undergoing hernia surgery following last season.

"I'm fine I've just got to get back into the swing of things as far as the pace," Wright said. "It's not hindering me from doing what I know I can do."

While Wright may emerge as Louisville's top running back this season, Victor Anderson is the new ‘face' of Strong's program.

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