"When you look at our offense; when you have a quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater and you have the receivers like Andrell (Smith), DeVante (Parker), and you look at (Damian) Copeland, we have players that can make plays," said U of L head coach Charlie Strong on Monday. "On defense, just go out and get a stop, get the ball back for our offense and we know that our guys on defense feel that they know if they get the ball in our offense's hands then we have a chance to win the football game."
Twelve different players have recorded multiple receptions for the Cardinals this season, led by junior Damian Copeland's 28. A pair of sophomores follow, with DeVante Parker second with 20 catches and Eli Rogers totaling 19. Parker's 457 yards and 4 touchdowns are tops on the team.
"That says we have a great receiving corp and a great offense that utilizes all those weapons," Cardinals offensive coordinator Shawn Watson told Cardinal Authority. "If you're a defensive coordinator, guess what, you can not isolate on one guy. Anyone of those guys can hurt you."
And the evidence is there. With each passing week, a different receiver has stepped up to make a significant contribution. The first indication of the developing talent at the position came on the team's first offensive possession of the season and the trend has continued. Against Kentucky, when U of L faced a third-and-nine at it's own 2 yard line. Damian Copeland hauled in a 23-yard reception for a first down, which sparked the game's first touchdown-scoring drive.
"When I think about Copeland, and I think about the plays are receivers are making, you look at the Kentucky game, Copeland makes a big catch," said Strong. "We were backed up and he makes a big catch coming off the goal line. Then you look at the last game against South Florida he makes a big catch, and then you look at [Cincinnati] game, he goes down and makes a big catch, and then you throw the ball out there to Devante."
Most recently it was Parker's two fourth quarter touchdowns that highlighted Louisville's overtime win over Cincinnati.
"We knew that he was poised to do something special when he got his opportunity," said Watson. "In our offense, every one of those kids get targeted and he took advantage of his opportunities. I think we'll see him getter better, better and better. I think the sky is the limit for him."
The depth of talent at the position allows Watson and receivers coach Ron Dugans to avoid the urge to have just one or two primary receivers.
"When we look at it, we target the position and not the individual," explained Watson. "I trust Ron Dugans that he is utilizing the best skill set of each player. We don't want to feed just one guy, that's not us."
"We have a lot of guys," said Watson. "I laugh a little bit to myself, because people talk about how many catches guys have at other schools, but here we are going to distribute the ball equally."