Radcliff now the lead back for Louisville

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Sophomore Brandon Radcliff started the season as the fourth-string running back for the University of Louisville football team. But now he's the lead back as the Cardinals prepare to meet Georgia in the Belk Bowl on Tuesday.

Some folks wondered in the preseason how University of Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino would use his stable of four quality running backs.

Brandon Radcliff didn't fret.

The sophomore from Miami at the time was running as the fourth-string back but said he "always had confidence in the way coach Petrino uses his guys."

Now as the Cardinals prepare to play Georgia on Tuesday night in the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium, Radcliff is the lead back for the Cardinals. He has rushed for a team-high 648 yards and 11 touchdowns despite playing in just 10 of 12 games.

"Coach Petrino puts trust in his running backs," Radcliff said. "We all come out and work hard and when our number is called, it's time to step up.

"It all works out. It's a long season, a long, long season. But you just have to keep working and be patience. In football, there's all type of stuff with injuries and errors and things, you just have to keep working and wait your turn."

After playing mostly on special teams last season with only 16 carries for 90 yards and one TD, Radcliff said he worked hard in spring ball and in fall camp.

But it took a while for his number to get called.

Senior Dominique Brown started the season with 33 carries for 143 yards against Miami and scored in each of the first three games; while freshman L.J. Scott had 126 yards rushing in the second game against Murray State.

Corvin Lamb, who was a kick returner and also a running back, tore a ligament in his knee in mid-October and was done for the season, while Brown fell out of favor with the staff. He's carried just one time in the past five games, while Scott's carries have also been limited.

So in recent games it's been Radcliff and Michael Dyer, who is no longer with the team after being ruled academically ineligible for the bowl game.

Dyer had 100-plus yards games against N.C. State and Florida State, while Radcliff had totaled 100-yard games against Wake Forest (129), Syracuse (110) and Notre Dame (136).

"He runs hard," senior lineman Jamon Brown said of Radcliff. "He runs hard and he's hard for one guy to tackle, he's tough for defenses."

Radcliff has carried 49 times for 253 yards and five touchdowns in the past three games for the Cardinals, which were all three victories.

"I think I am way fresh because of the way Petrino takes of his players," Radcliff said. "With the way we take care of our players, I feel like my body is just as it was at the beginning of the season."

And that could spell doom for the Bulldogs.

Radcliff is expected to get a bulk of the carries since Dyer is not on the trip with the Cardinals. The most he's carries in a game this season was 23 times at Syarcuse.

"We miss Michael Dyer, but it's just like a player getting hurt in that we'll miss him but we just have to get out there and grind for him," Radcliff said. "You just have to be prepared when your time comes, no matter what the situation."

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