Cardinal Authority takes a look at 5 Cardinals that seem to be on the cusp of having an MVP type season.
Dominique Brown, RB, Senior: The senior from Cincinnati will be the feature back for the Cardinals again this fall. Brown led U of L with 825 yards in 2013 and playing in Petrino's more efficient offense could help him reach the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career in 2014. Brown, who measures 6-foot-2, 241-pounds, is a punishing runner who is also effective in the passing attack.
Charles Gaines, CB, Junior: Gaines had a breakout season in 2013, his first as a full-time cornerback. His 5 interceptions last season led the team and ranked 28th in the nation. He returned one interception for a touchdown, while also scoring as both a kick and punt returner. Gaines' aggressive play on the ball, along with return duties, could equal an MVP season in 2014.
Will Gardner, QB, Sophomore: If you play quarterback, you always have the opportunity to be a team MVP. Despite having very little game experience, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound sophomore is the next in line of successful signal-callers tutored by Bobby Petrino. Gardner has a solid offensive line, a strong group of running backs and a talented corp of receivers to help him in his initial year as the Cardinals starter.
Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB, Senior Moving into an outside linebacker position this season will give Mauldin more freedom and opportunities to make big plays. He finished among the top 30 in the nation last season with 9.5 sacks and is focused on reaching double figures in the category in 2014. Should Mauldin reach his goal for 10 sacks or more, he will certainly be one of the defensive MVP's.
Eli Rogers, WR, Senior The fourth-year player from Miami (Fla.) Northwestern has remained consistent since arriving on campus in 2011. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound target has appeared in 38 games, with 5 career starts. He has averaged 44 catches for 498 yards per season during his first three years and with the temporary loss of DeVante Parker, Rogers is poised for his biggest season yet.